Most of the families I have worked with or interviewed discuss openly their sense of responsibility to be the stewards of the wealth. There is a deep sense that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” In flourishing families, this sense does not come from a sense of guilt or obligation. Instead, it grows out of a sense of gratitude and deep appreciation of how fortunate they are. They describe themselves as the custodians of their wealth and of the well being of others.

All the families I’ve talked with about stewardship make clear that they aren’t just speaking of financial stewardship. What matters to them is stewardship of all the gifts they have received, such as the gift of freedom or choice. One fifth-generation family I work with says very intentionally “we are the stewards of our financial and spiritual resources.” It is the first sentence of the family mission statement and that commitment is obvious in the backdrop of what they invest in and their philanthropic interests.

In families like this one, it is an investment beyond them as individuals to a sense of legacy. They want their family to be proud stewards of their wealth.