Leaving a Legacy

Legacy Planning Series

 What:     45-60 minute conversation with individuals and their loved ones
When:    TBD
Where:   TBD
Why:      So that you can express your wishes clearly. There are important but often difficult decisions and conversations that we need to have regarding end of life matters. Specifically:

  • Planning your Life Celebration Service
  • Planning and communicating your end of life medical decisions
  • Planning and communicating your Will and Estate wishes
  • Planning and communicating your financial legacy

Why Plan:

  • You do have preferences – so communicate them clearly.
  • You don’t want to be a burden – so make the decisions that are yours to make
  • You do want to be helpful – so give as much information as possible
  • Your life will impact people after you’re gone – so take control of that legacy.

Invite your friends, family, and others who you wish to participate in this conversation with you or who want and need to have it for yourself. Following this presentation, opportunities will be provided for deeper individual conversation or additional more in depth discussion.

For additional information please contact:

Rev. Dr. Ken G. Crawford   ~    KenGCrawford (at) gmail (dot) com


Legacy Planning

Whether you are young, older or somewhere in between, everyone needs to let their loved ones know their wishes as they age and approach end of life.  Making these decisions now takes the burden off your loved ones because your wishes are clear and there is no doubt about who, what and how your wishes are handled. With each of the four parts below you will have a 1 page overview worksheet to guide your thinking, planning and discussion. You can give copies of these summary documents to people who may need to have access to the information at a later date.

Life Celebration and Remembrance Services:

“How do you want to be remembered?” – plan your life celebration (scriptures, hymns, stories, etc); write your own obituary and eulogy. Use this exercise as an opportunity to share what matters most with who matters most. Give a copy of this worksheet to your church pastor or secretary so it is available when the time comes for them to help your loved ones plan your final life celebration service.

Advanced Directives

(Medical and financial powers of attorney, declarations of guardian, living wills… in Texas a physician’s directive, agent to control disposition of remains, DNR, organ donation.)  These are important because they allow a trusted family member or friend to step into your shoes to make decisions for you when you cannot.  They also tell your medical and financial providers what you want in advance.  This takes the guesswork out of making these decisions when you are unable to and gives the family member or friend the authority to make these decisions when you cannot make them yourself.  This takes the burden and confusion away from your loved ones in a time of what is often great stress and heartache.

ABC’s of Estate Planning and Probate
Getting Your Act Together So Your Loved Ones Don’t Have To

Having an estate plan and a will in Texas is easy and imperative.  It significantly cuts down on the cost and ease of probate which is nothing more than transferring the ownership of property from the person who passed to the persons who inherit.  Without an estate plan and a will, Texas makes these decisions for you and it may not be what you want.  Having an estate plan and will in place makes your wishes known, clear and easily implemented.  Not having an estate plan and will in place can result in confusion, a lengthy passage of time before the estate is handled, and potentially, fighting and resentments among family members.

Financial Legacy:

The ABCS of the how tos, possibilities and whys for leaving a legacy to your family members, your church, or those causes and charities that you are passionate about.  Understanding these options allows you to leave a long lasting impact on your community.


What do you most want to do? What will you do?

My goal in life is to read and write – and through these activities to make a difference. And along side this WORK, to be near or on the water, with my beloveds.

I think I’m wired the way I am for a reason – all pathology aside. My personality and my gifts and my strengths and my abilities and my experiences and my education and my connections and my unique point of view all somehow work together to make me who I am. (perhaps there’s other stuff in there too…)

A colleague and friend asked me several years ago, “What do you most want to do?”
My answer: “Sit on the porch overlooking the water and write.”
“Well,” he asked after a pregnant pause, “What do you need to do in order to do that?”

What indeed.

I also recognize that the VAST MAJORITY of the world’s population have, do, and probably always will work at things to feed and shelter their families that are in no way connected to their passions and dreams and personality. They do what needs to be done. Perhaps it is expressly western privilege that leads me to think I can and should do otherwise.

And, there is plenty of other meaningful work that I find very rewarding. I LOVE congregational ministry. Sermon preparation and delivery, worship planning and leadership, leadership development, teaching, strategic planning, community engagement, pastoral visitation, EVEN MEETINGS. I find meaning and purpose in all of it. The casual conversations at a Thursday morning men’s breakfast coffee klatch at McDonalds are enjoyable and important. This week I led 16 octogenarians and above in a brief service of Eucharist and Ashes. I could tell by their expressions that this was incredibly important to them, and thus an immensely important way for me to spend an hour of my time.

I don’t want to be one of those people who delays the pursuit of life’s passions for retirement, only to drop dead of a heart attack the next week. My ow grandfather died at age 59 on the dais during the hymn of preparation for the sermon on the Monday of Holy Week. I never knew him, but by all accounts he lived a rich and full life and did the things he found important, worthwhile and meaningful. That’s what matters. Whether he had unfulfilled hopes and dreams for himself and others, I don’t know. That’ll be a good conversation with my own father and uncle soon. A neighbor of mine lost his wife of 50+ years 6 months after moving into the first home they ever owned together – he was career military so they’d always lived in base or government owned housing. He’s going on to live a rich full life, but I wonder if they’d have done something differently had they known. I’ve seen so many clergy suffer severe health problems within 1 year of retiring, as if their body said, “Finally, I can rest long enough to be sick because you’re not dragging me around every which way.”

The most important impact I make is in the lives of my wife and two children. That is completely clear for me. There is no argument that can prevail against it.

AND, I think I have something to contribute to the larger world, to the church, and to the conversation about how leaders in ministry can flourish and thrive in the coming decades. This matters, because communities’ health and well-being is greatly impacted by the organizations and institutions within them. Individual and grassroots resilience can overcome immense dysfunction in local institutions. Even so, everyone benefits when local congregations, nonprofits, education, government and businesses are healthy.

And organizations can not be healthy if their leaders are not healthy.

And it is incredibly difficult to be a healthy leader in the midst of a dis-eased institution.

Thus, supporting leaders in today’s institutions matters. It creates direct impact in the real lives of individuals and households throughout our communities, regardless of population size or demographic diversity.

If I could find a way to impact that system from my study, I would. At present, I don’t know how to do that other than by pastoring a local congregation, serving in nonprofit leadership, offering coaching and consulting, and showing up in local communities. If you or someone you know wants to pay me to research and write perhaps in an international think tank on leadership impact, please let me know.

Until then, I look forward to seeing you in church, in a coworking space, or at the local coffee shop.

Getting noticed, or not.

I desire to be noticed
not for ego’s sake,
but for the sake
of influence.

I want to made a difference
because I’ve been told
that’s why I’m here.

They’ve told me
that my impact
is measured against
my audience.

“Mine is
than yours…”

I’d just as soon
sit with my books,
my pen and paper,
play with ideas,
and live with words.

I’d walk in the woods,
sit in cafes and pubs
with a few choice friends.

I’d linger over
small batch,
fresh roast,
single malt,

I’d think my thoughts,
dream my dreams,
weave my tapestries
of hope and love
and transformation.

“Vocation requires an audience.”
This I believe is true.

But perhaps
the audience could be
a tree
a bird
just one friend
a smallish room
of patient listeners.

Deep or wide?
There’s a fountain
flowing deep AND wide.

Some go wide.
Others go deep.
Must we all do both?

Must I do both?
Can I do both?
Is it my burden to bear?

I think
the burden
is to show up
whenever and wherever.

I said it wasn’t ego.
Perhaps I’m wrong.
Perhaps ego wants impact.

“Cast your bread upon the waters.”
“Don’t cast your pearls before swine.”
“The swine ran headlong down into the water.”

Can I let go
of the desire
to make a difference?
Should I?

What to do?

I find myself jealous of others
who find success and visibility.
Today its #realclergybios.
Truly, I’m overjoyed for Elizabeth & Mihee
Glad that the stories are being told
and heard.

And yet I’ve been struggling for years
to figure out how
to get an audience
for this very conversation.
And they got one without even trying.
(Yes, I know that’s unfair and untrue.)
Their visibility far outstretched their reach.

I rejoice with them and for them.
I’m left wondering.
Am I supposed to DO SOMETHING
to create broader visibility and impact?

I hustle
for opportunity
that seems elusive.

Because it matters.
Ministry matters.

I really care about the lives of ministers.
Clergy and lay leaders
some well trained, others less so
some immensely gifted, others less so.
All longing to be faithful
to make a difference
to change the world
to see the kingdom and the kin-dom come.

There is so much need
and so few resources
and so little help
or hope.

We can.
God will.

Perhaps I can rest in that.

Lent – the original mud run

As I was out in the community yesterday offering ashes, I was struck by the wide variety of facial and body-language responses of the people who seemed to notice my presence. The least common seemed to be a knowing recognition and appreciation of why I was there – to offer a companioned experience of renewal to those who might desire it. A subset of these people actually came over and engaged me in conversation, some of them requested and received prayer and the imposition of ashes.

Ash WednesdayFar more common were the variations of folks who didn’t really seem to get what I was doing, even though I had a sign that clearly stated the offer —

I did not ask any of them about their thoughts – It seemed important not to insert or impose myself into their worlds any more than I already was by my mere presence and posture. Even so, I couldn’t help but wonder.

Granted, the mall or a metro station are not where one typically looks for experiences of forgiveness and renewal. Transformation may be sought many places and in many different kinds of experiences, but there was definitely a disconnect for these folks.

I thought about the work of Angie Thurston and Casper ter Kuile, two scholars from Harvard Divinity SchoolHow We Gather. Their research took them into relationship with an array of leaders in new expressions of community designed to foster and facilitate individual, community and social transformation. CrossFit may be the most well known manifestation of this “new” trend in “non-religious” community formation. In the process, Angie and Casper identify six recurring themes that these gatherings have in common with religious expressions of community. As with religious groups, all six are not emphasized equally, and some are ignored completely. These six themes are:

Community  ~  Personal Transformation  ~  Social Transformation
Purpose Finding  ~  Creativity  ~  Accountability

HWG- six themes

How We Gather, Angie Thurston & Casper ter Kuile, 2015. p8

As I looked hopefully on the people around me, those with smudged foreheads and those who wondered why I didn’t wash my face, it occurred to me. People are always searching for journeys of transformation. And often these journeys connect us with the earth in one way or another. Some people walk the Appalachian Trail. Others walk on hot coals with Trever McGhee. The journey will include at least 4 elements:

  • It is both a solitary and communal act – As the person making the journey, it is you against the elements. And yet you are also surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” who have traveled the road before you, or are on the journey with you now.
  • It is an arduous process – The journey includes various forms of pain (physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, mental) and deprivation (going without some creature comforts, or even things typically considered essential).
  • It is transformative – The participant expects to be changed in some way – perhaps to prove to oneself an inner strength, a mastery of the elements, the mind or the body.
  • It leaves a mark – Often the mark is some form of dirt or ash. The road takes its toll, and the marks are a kind of badge of honor for the wearer – and perhaps a cause of bewilderment for the disengaged onlooker (“You people must be crazy…” is a phrase often spoke of or at those who make such journeys.)

And then I realized – Lent, beginning as it does with Ash Wednesday – is the original Mud Run. The Mud Run meets all four tests listed above, though it is certainly briefer than the AT or Lent.

mudrun 1Lent is a journey of transformation, marked with the initiating challenge to runners “You are dust, and to dust you will return.” Perhaps things like the Mud Run exist because the way church has offered transformation journeys over the recent centuries has lost meaning and power for many people. Perhaps the church, without coopting (ripping off) the culture’s innate creativity, might take some notes. As Angie and Casper have demonstrated so capably, the culture will create responses to the very real human need for such journeys, whether inside or far beyond religious communities.

One other thing. The people who make such journeys in the wider culture – they really seem to be enjoying themselves, individually and together, despite the pain and deprivation. Personal sacrifice does not result in misery for these folks. I’m reminded suddenly of Jesus counsel to his contemporaries for how to undertake their own Mud Run disciplines:

16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others (Matthew 6)

Wherever your journey of transformation takes you, may you have companions by your side, and all the provision you need. And may you be truly different at the end – more fully yourself, and more fully alive.