On a cold, windy December day, Sharon and I stood at the graveside of one of our heroes: a godly man who took us under his wing at just the right time to help us transition from serving with one local church to a ministry of multiple churches.
We grew to love Dr. Charles W. Sullivan and his precious wife, Delilah. He was a native Missourian. He was led to Christ and discipled in one of our Missouri Baptist churches. Educated at SBU, he pastored in Texas as well as in Missouri. He served with great respect and courage as chairman of the SBC Executive Committee during the days of theological confrontation.
While not much may be written of him in the annals of Baptist History, I know that the Lord used Dr. Sullivan at a significant time to help Southern Baptists turn the corner away from neo-orthodoxy to being Biblicists of the highest order, specifically among the leadership of our SBC educational institutions, commissions and boards.
However, as with all people, there comes a day these old bodies are no longer suitable residences for the saints of God, and our God welcomes us home. After breakfast and a devotional time with his wife, Dr. Sullivan had gone to brush his teeth. When he did not return for an extended time, Delilah checked on him and her beloved Charles was gone.
We huddled under the small tent at the graveside to say one last good bye before his body was lowered into the grave. Tears? Certainly. Gratefulness for all the Lord did through him? Absolutely. Reflection? Necessary.
Preparation for our end of days is a matter of godly stewardship. There are questions we need to ask. As God’s children, we don’t have to be tenuous about these questions because we belong to the Lord. This world is not our home. We really are pilgrims passing through. Questions like: Do we have a will that takes care of our final wishes? Better yet, do we have an estate plan that is far more comprehensive than a will? A will is part of an estate plan, but there are other factors to consider.
When you reflect on end-of-life decisions, there are some huge things to consider before we die. An estate plan is more than a distribution of assets. It covers things we might face like end-of-life medical treatments. An estate plan provides a custom, one-of-a-kind plan of action.
What do you do if you are incapacitated? What are your wishes when resuscitation and life support are involved? Who do you trust to make the decision for you? These are huge decisions you have to make ahead of time, then review them periodically.
If you have children who are minors, what do you do with them? Who will become your power of attorney? If something happens, who handles your financial matters? All this and much more is part of a comprehensive estate plan.
What about the basic things you would like at your funeral? Are you going to leave those decisions to your grieving spouse or children? Death is not the time to wrestle with big, expensive decisions while in an emotional state of mind. Why not wisely do those things ahead of time?
Is developing an estate plan hard to do? Honestly, it can be. Envisioning a time when you are no longer here is difficult to do. You have to take inventory of everything you own and consider the legal means required to transfer it when you die. You also have to deal honestly with critical matters within your family.
But you don’t have to do this alone. The servants of the Lord at the Missouri Baptist Foundation are some of the best at helping people develop a strong estate plan worthy of a man or woman of God. Pick up the phone and give them a call at 573-761-0717 (toll free: 800-776-0747), or send them an email at MBFoundation@mbfn.org.