Build a Family Legacy: Start with a Fun Family Covenant

What is an easy way to start building a family legacy? Create a Family Covenant with your family at your next family meeting. Here is a simple way to do it.

Build a Family Legacy: Start with a Fun Family Covenant

Ever thought about how to build a family legacy practically?

Before it's too late ☠️

I have spent a lot of time on my dream of acquiring family wealth through entrepreneurship.  

But this hasn't worked out as I planned, and my oldest daughter may not be at home in 2 years when she turns 18. And she could be starting a family in the decade that follows.

What will she take with her from my efforts as a father?

What will be left over from our family culture when I become a great-grandfather?

I am a 45-year-old father and a Christian, who has researched the topic of family legacy through books, podcasts, and just by observing families.

And a spiritual legacy matters more, than wealth transfer.

In this post, I am going to tell you about my experience creating a family covenant together with my wife and 3 girls, so you can try the same. I even throw in our family covenant example.

30-Minute Family Meeting

It's "Swedecation 23" (what we called our Swedish Vacation in 2023) for the Lee family.

Our three girls and Sylvia are at the kitchen table of Sylvia's Uncle's home in the woods near Gothenburg (a big city on the west coast in Sweden).

I am standing up explaining that we are going to create together a Family Legacy Social Covenant for the next 20 minutes.

The girls (ages 10, 12, and 16) are extremely giggly, on the brink of looney.

This is my first attempt with the family to create a document that will shape our family culture.

I got this idea from this book on Kindle (free with Kindle Unlimited): The Family Legacy - Shaping Culture from the Inside Out: How to Lead Your Family, Live Your Legacy, and Shape Culture in the Process by Randall W. Bixby

Creating a covenant together is where he recommends starting.

Seems practical.

Let's hope this experiment works before the girls go bat-crazy and us parents turn into fuming monster overlords.

Key Elements of Building a  Family Legacy for Christians?

I browsed a ton of books on this topic and Bixby's won because of 2 reasons:

His focus is not on wealth transfer or legacy planning but on spiritual/character transfer to future generations. Most books on legacy are about the family business or inheritance.

It has a really practical free PDF download of all the family meetings you can do, step-by-step.

The word "legacy" does not show up if you search for it in an ESV Bible.

But there is a lot of talk in the Old Testament about generational blessing and in the New Testament about discipleship.

How Family Legacy Worked in the Old Testament

If you search the word "generations" in the Old Testament, you will not be disappointed.

God thinks long-term.

He blesses (and curses) generationally.

The Abrahamic covenant is inherently generational.

Genesis 13:16 "I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted."

But being devoted to Yahweh was fragile, and could be lost within one generation.

It happens time and time again.

Just read the book of Judges.

Nonetheless, God gave instructions on how to ensure multi-generational blessing.

Deuteronomy 6:7-9 shows God's people how to teach their children.

"7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

God also commanded pilgrimages each year that the family would go on. (That must have been fun!)

There were also prescribed family rituals, like circumcision.

But in all the examples, Father Abraham was the ultimate example of a Family Legacy:

  • To live as if you will have countless descendants.
  • To live with the reality of your great great great grandchildren's spiritual health.

In the book "Family Revision: How Ancient Wisdom Can Heal the Modern Family", Jeremy Pryor goes into detail about Jewish long-term vision of family stems from their high regard for Abraham.  He points out that nothing in the New Testament shows that we should stop thinking multi-generationally.

How Legacy Works in the New Testament Era

It could be said that the New Testament de-emphasizes the role of biological lineage family in God's Heilsgeschichte.

This is true.

Disciplie-making is the new paradigm.

"Brother" and "Sister" take on a new spiritual connotation.

Growth of God's people is more geographical than genealogical: Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria to the ends of the Earth.

Much can be said about this.

Nonetheless, we see in Acts entire "households" converting (e.g. Cornelius).

We see the four prophesying daughters of Philip the Evangelist (Acts 21).

And, there are the family criteria of eldership in Titus 1:6.

"the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination."

Moreover, how important were children to Jesus?

Mt 18:6

"but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

Apparently, execution by drowning made sense to Jesus, if you didn't disciple your kids.

As a father, the Great Commission starts in my Jerusalem.

My home.

how to start a family legacy

Create a Family Covenant

Back to the kitchen table in Sweden:

Our youngest, Kiki, can't stop cracking jokes and offering goofy answers to the covenant questions.

But we do get down to business in the end.

Sylvia takes notes.

Standing up, I explain that we want to lay the foundation for building our family legacy.

It will only take about 30 minutes, but we want to discover our family's core values as a team, and strengthen our sense of identity as a family to build a legacy.

To do that we need a home that is safe and secure, full of trust, respect, and empathy.

Here are Bixby's questions for the Family Legacy Social Covenant.

Click on the questions to toggle our answers:

1) What do you (children) want/need from us parents?

This question should come first to get buy-in from the girls.

Here were their answers:

  • A house that we can live in
  • Everyone gets their own room
  • Food
  • Support in our projects
  • More praise and recognition when we do good in school
  • Help with working through fights
  • Freedom to make our own decisions
  • Freedom to say no
  • More vegetables

Right now we are just gathering data. Later we will formulate the covenant properly.

2) What do we (parents) want/need from you (children)?

  • Respect what others find important
  • Responsibility for household chores, being helpful
  • Obedience to parents and God
  • Your sisters are your best friends and allies, so be kind and respect them.
  • We want you to know how it feels to be healthy and fit.

3) What do you want/need from each other (to build trust and empathy)?

  • I need you to stop hitting me.
  • I need you to stop making fun of me in a harsh way.
  • I want my sisters to respect me when I want to go to bed on time.
  • Please don't say "Auggie (our dog) doesn't like you."
  • I don't want Auggie to be used as a power tool.
  • I want to be heard.
  • No chewing with your mouth open and doing kissy faces.
  • Don't wake me up in the morning, unless I ask you.

4) How will we resolve a broken covenant?

  • First, talk to the person 1 to 1.
  • Then bring in another person/parent, if it is not resolved.
old man on a park bench

Family Covenant Example

My next job is to reformulate these statements into a covenant.

So what follows is my first draft thanks to my little AI friend.

To write this covenant I used a free Chat GPT account. Why?

I didn't know how to formulate a family covenant.

We had quite a long list of items to include, and Chat GPT can consolidate and organize information quite well.

I am a nerd.

Here is the prompt I used:

Write a family covenant for the Lee family, based on the information included at the end of this prompt. I want the language to be simple enough for a 5th grader to read. The tone is with dad humor, happy, and encouraging. This covenant is meant to influence family culture for generations to come. The items agreed upon should be grouped by topic/value. Each individual item should be preceded by a respective value or values. The end should be a call to sign. Add lots of emojis. Here is the information: (copy and pasted the list the family made).

Here are some follow-up prompts:

Make the tone less cute and more like a father who likes dad jokesTone down the creative language a bit

Here is the result with some minor edits:

🌟 The Lee Family Covenant 🌟

🧔🗣️Let's make our family bond even tighter than a jar of pickles for generations to come! 🤝🥒

❤️💙 Our Agreements❤️💙

🏡 Home Sweet Home: Our cozy castle of love and laughter! No matter where you go, this place will always be your refuge. 🏰❤️

💖 Your Room, Your Apartment: You each get your own space to make your own, and take full responsibiltiy for it! 🌈✨

🍔 Good Eats: We'll cook up yummy meals, including those sneaky veggies to keep us healthy! 🥦🍔

🤗 Support & Praise: We'll be your biggest fans, cheering you on in your projects and lending a helping hand whenever you need it. We also promise to go crazy when you make good grades.🎉📣

👭 Sisters Stick Together: Your sisters are your BFFs, and you've got an unbreakable sisterhood! Like James and John. Mary and Martha. Thor and Loki.🕊️🤝

🌟 Responsibilities & Respect 🌟

🌟 Respectful Rockstars: We'll treat each other with kindness and respect, and be mindful of each other's feelings. 🙌🤝

🙏 Chores: Let's team up and take care of household chores, turning them into fun family missions! 🧹💃

🙏 Commandments of God, Daddy, and Mama: The best way you can follow Jesus as a child is to obey us like you were just asked to watch a Marvel Universe movie marathon. 🧔✨

💪 Fit-Fam: We'll stay active, keeping our bodies healthy and having fun while we're at it! 🏃‍♀️😂

💞 Trust & Empathy 💞

🤜🤛 Fist-Bump-Hug Rules: No hitting allowed, but lots of high-fives, fist bumps, and hugs for showing love and support! 🤜🤛🔒

🙊 Giggle-Friendly Jokes: Jokes are great, but let's make sure they're never mean or hurtful. Laughter is the best medicine! So are antibiotics.🤣💖

🌛 Bedtime Magic: Sweet dreams are important, so let's respect each other's bedtime wishes! 🌙💤

🐶 Paw-some Love: We love to love Auggie, not use him as a tool to manipulate and put each other down. 🐾🐕

👂 Listen and Hugs: We'll be good listeners and give lots of hugs when anyone needs a shoulder to lean on. 🤗❤️

😅 Chew with Charm: No open-mouth chewing or kissy faces at the table! Let's enjoy our meals and not do things that make us gag. 🍽️😋

Morning Manners: We'll give morning greetings only when requested, respecting each other's sleepy time! 🌅🤫

🗽 Freedom to Decide 🗽

🎈 Decision-making Divas: Each of you has the freedom to make your own choices. Own it and be confident! 🌟✨

🙅‍♀️ Super "No" Powers: Saying no is okay when you feel it's necessary. We'll respect your decisions. 🙅‍♂️💪

🤝 Resolving with Love 🤝

🗣️ Feedback Time: If something's bothering you, let's talk it out one-on-one, with open hearts and ears. 🗣️💬

🤝 Family Mediation: If we need backup, we'll get someone to help us work things out peacefully. 🦸‍♂️🚀

📝 Signing the Lee Family Covenant 📝

Alright, let's sign this family agreement with love and commitment! 🤝📜

⚡💪 We, the Lee Family, promise to follow these rules and build a family bond that will last generations! 😄👨‍👩‍👧‍👧

Together, we'll make unforgettable memories and keep our family love shining from generation to generation. 🌟🌌❤️

Note: This is just a draft. I still need a family meeting to confirm these.

Leave a Legacy: Review Your Family Covenant Regularly

Since doing this exercise, the girls keep teasingly calling our covenant list the "No-No List".

I play along and act annoyed saying,

"No, it is a COVENENT, not a no-no list."

But, once the covenant is formulated and checked by everyone, then we will sign it, laminate it and put the covenant on the fridge.

When we have family meetings we will review the covenant, and think of practical ways to make them a reality.

And then update it, when necessary.

Final Encouragement

Your family's legacy is more important than your family's wealth.

I struggle with overvaluing treasure on earth.

Yet, he best investment moms and dads can make right now is in their family culture, more than the family business.

As a Christian, you are part of a bigger purpose than just building financial wealth for your children and grandchildren. Wealth management is important and so is a successful career, but your family needs to feel like part of something bigger right now.

A Family Covenant is easy to do and it can benefit your family to change your family history forever, better than any wealth advisor can.

Am I right?

In the end, the experiment was really fun. Goofing off did happen, but we stuck to our 30-minute time limit and ended it before anyone turned into Hulk or She-Hulk.

Tell me your thoughts in the comments!