By: French B. Harmon, PhD
Many people in Kentucky were touched by the generosity of the late Ward F. Correll. International Mission Board (SBC) President Dr. Paul Chitwood said, "Ward Correll was the most generous man I've ever met." Among his many recognitions was a 2003 award as Philanthropist of the Year by the Association of Fundraisers, Bluegrass Chapter. This Baptist laymen from Somerset understood many of biblical principles regarding generosity and sought to live with a grateful attitude toward the things of God.
As Mr. Correll's pastor, I was honored to preach his funeral in 2016. As believers, we acknowledge a "person preaches their own funeral" but he certainly gave me plenty of biblical examples to share on that occasion. Here are few of the principles that were presented
- Build the Kingdom. One of Correll's favorite verses was "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all of these things will be added to you." He learned early in his life to invest in the things that really matter--Church, Christian institutions and Christ-honoring charities. These are ways a person can have a lasting impact on the Christ's Kingdom. United States Congressman Hal Rogers said of Correll, "His generosity was a vast as his business ingenuity, and he used both to inspire everyone around him." I would suggest that you to specifically list your church, Christian institutions, seminaries and Christ-honoring charities in your estate plans. Call the Kentucky Baptist Foundation for assistance.
- Bless people. Another powerful biblical principal that I presented in the funeral message was the concept of encouragement. I Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (NIV)." Ward Correll made it his passion to be generous to people in need. He would often says, " Its all God's. We are just to help people on the journey. A practical lesson for each believer is to pray for "divine appointments." Often God will allow Christians to be the hands, feet and even the means to bless another person. Having a generous attitude could mean doing things that "only God may know about." It was amazing to hear the stories of how Correll had used his resources to bless others in their moment of need.
- Bloom where you are planted. This popular phase has a biblical root. In Matthew 7:17 and 20 says, "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit...by their fruits you shall know them." A person will be remembered by the fruit they leave behind and pay forward. Jesus encourages his followers to make a difference wherever you are. Ward Correll could have taken the resources and lived an opulent life. But he chose live a simply and be a devoted follower Christ. Being a "doer" will allow each of us to think of ways to be generous. Developing a Christ-like attitude comes from spending time reading the Bible and having time alone with God. As we allow God to mold us into His image an amazing thing takes place--we bloom! We begin to see opportunities to invest in people and causes that have eternal significance. Randy Alcorn wrote about possessions in the Treasure Principle, "You can not take it with you, but you can send it on ahead." I can think of numerous ministries that need a boost about now. Call me at the KBF and we can have a conversation about how you can make a difference now.
The poet Deborah Ann Belka wrote about being a generous and kind person. She was inspired after reading Galatians 5:22-23 and the fruit of the Spirit.
"Disperse some generosity,
it can go a long, long way
to energize and cheer up
someone sad you meet today.
Scatter seeds of kindness,
let goodwill be what you sow
how they make others feel
you will never really know."
French Harmon is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.
The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.