Is It An Inheritance Or Is It A Legacy?

June 30, 2011

Have you known of family members squabbling and fighting over the inheritance? Worst. Have you ever heard of siblings fighting over the inheritance even while the father or the mother is still alive?

Do not underestimate the effect of what you leave behind.

Did Johann Sebastian Bach leave a legacy of music behind?

It would seem so — More than 100 descendants of Johann Sebastian Bach have been cathedral organists.

Featured in that wonderful book entitled “Illustrations Unlimited,” learn some lessons from this story.

Max Jukes lived in New York. He did not believe in Christ or in Christian training. He refused to take his children to church, even when they asked to go. He has had 1,026 descendants; 300 were sent to prison for an average term of thirteen years; 190 were public prostitutes; 680 were admitted alcoholics. His family, thus far, has cost the state in excess of $420,000. They made no contribution to society.

Jonathan Edwards lived in the same state, at the same time as Jukes. He loved the Lord and saw that his children were in church every Sunday, as he served the Lord to the best of his ability. He has had 929 descendants, and of these 430 were ministers; 86 became university professors; 13 became university presidents; 75 authored good books; 7 were elected to the United States Congress. One was vice president of his nation. His family never cost the state one-cent but has contributed immeasurably to the life of plenty in that land today.[1]

But the question is: what about you and me? Mere mortals in this decaying planet rising up early in the morning, braving the terrible blood-sucking energy- zapping metropolitan traffic trying to make an honest living wanting to leave something behind for our loved ones? What are we leaving behind?

Maybe the same question is aptly addressed to those who have mastered the science and art of wealth creation. Those whose personal investment portfolio has withstood the onslaught of the Lehman Brothers debacle and can afford to live a thousand lifetimes even if they do not have to work a single day in their lives. What are they leaving behind?

And thus, the question: Are we leaving an inheritance or are we leaving a legacy. There is a big difference in between.


An inheritance is something you leave to your family or loved ones, and it also fades.

A legacy is something you leave in your family and loved ones and they appreciate in value over time.


When I leave One Hundred Million Pesos to my children I am leaving them an inheritanc

When I model a life of devotion to God and a faithful affection to their mother I am leaving them a legacy.


When I leave a profitable business enterprise behind I am leaving all the people who work for me an inheritance.

But when I model good citizenry, servant leadership doing business based on truth and integrity I am leaving in them a legacy.


It is quite possible for someone to be leaving behind a wealth of inheritance but empty on legacy.

An inheritance is leaving the children loots and things.

It is very possible for someone not to have anything left for an inheritance but leaving behind a wealthy legacy.


A legacy is leaving the children roots and wings.

Can your children live successfully long after you are gone?


Anyone can leave an inheritance. Not everyone can leave a legacy.

So what are we leaving behind? Are we really leaving a legacy or are we merely busy with leaving behind an inheritance.

There is finality to life in this decaying planet. Eternity belongs to the life beyond this one. The wealthy know this all too well. This is why they leave their names on foundations that would last just a little bit longer after they die.

Don’t just busy yourself leaving an inheritance, begin now to build on leaving a legacy.








[1]    –James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 195.

This Post Has 8 Comments


    A very inspiring message indeed. It is really worth sharing especially to my friends whose priority is just to leave an inheritance and not a legacy.

  2. Daniel

    Thanks for the insight. While leaving an inheritance has some value, yet it may not be permanent as how the children would spent it. Leaving a legacy however has eternal significance. A life where faith in Christ is displayed could be passed on to our children and to their children. There would be no loss as HE will reward those who will put their trust in Him, in Jesus Christ.

  3. AnneShi Cheng

    This is so true!.. Very well said!..
    I think this mostly happens with traditional Chinese families.. I personally saw and experienced the ‘fighting over inheritance’ thing.. which happened with my father’s side of the family.. with my father’s friends’ family.. And it is really a rumble!..
    So glad I was able to read this post.. Gave me new knowledge.. Thank you! =)

  4. motax

    Hello Francis,
    I am an OFW here in Qatar for four years.
    And in few days, I am ending my contract because I opted to work where I am near to my family.
    As I read your post, it just re-affirmed my decision. You’re right; gaining wealth, creating inheritance is useless if we are losing our precious time with our family, our being with them – missing our kids’ growing years and with wife’s intimate moments.
    Keep on sharing your thoughts, they’re quite powerful.
    Indeed, you’re already building up your own legacy.
    I’ll personally share this newly found blog of yours to my friends.
    Many thanks and God bless you!

  5. Zara

    Yeah you’re right, I agree with you in your last line which is ” Don’t just busy yourself leaving an inheritance, begin now to build on leaving a legacy.” Actually i’m aiming for leaving a legacy. How I’d like my loved ones to remember what I value most in life…good virtues.

  6. chritian

    Let your child inherit your legacy…. this one is so inspirational…

  7. Rex Sacayan

    A wonderful article! Just the way JESUS did, leaving a legacy to all humanity.

  8. chris

    So right!
    Live and leave a legacy.
    More power in building a noble legacy.

Leave a Reply