My mother shared a sermon recently, which is not unusual.

The peculiar part was the urgency with which she implored the email’s four recipients to watch. The subject, written in all caps, should have been my first clue into her excitement.

“SONS!! PLEASE WATCH THIS SERMON! PLEASE!” the subject screamed.

In my younger days, I still wouldn’t have listened. My mother’s message would have lingered, unread, in a filtered folder I designed specifically for her but have long been unable to undo. When she emails now, I never see them. Whenever she really wants me to see an email, she’ll tell me to check the folder I can’t figure out. If she doesn’t, she knows I won’t see her important emails.

But the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve paid attention to my mother’s messages. Little did she know, I was so eager for this one I opened it at work.

The difference with my job is I was standing in the middle of an NBA locker room. And there I was, following a Sunday afternoon game between the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers, using my mom’s email to avert my eyes from other grown men getting dressed. Only when the video began and its audio pierced the sullen dressing room did I realize that wasn’t the time.

But I couldn’t wait to get back to the sermon. The title in the video’s link enticed me: “All in the Family – Part 2 ‘Denise’s Different World’ by Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley.”

Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley is the senior pastor of the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va. I thought I’d never heard of him or his church. But just before writing this column, I found an unread email from February 2022. It was from my mom. It was a sermon she shared from Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley. The subject line, written in lowercase, was much more subtle.

“This amazing BHM sermon starts at 1:04. Try to find some time to hear it. Love Mom,” it read.

This time, my mother wouldn’t let up. She followed up during a call, asking if I had viewed the sermon. When informed I had not, she excitedly encouraged me, like she knew I was walking into a surprise and she couldn’t hold the secret any longer.

“Just wait until you watch,” she said.

Fifteen minutes in, I still didn’t know why I was there. My excitement had faded. I was losing all interest.

Two minutes later, the pastor started talking about generational wealth and financial freedom. Suddenly, my ears perked. I sat up in my chair. He had my undivided attention.

Wesley then unleashed a word on finances in a way I had never heard a pastor preach before.

In a three-part series he did in 2021 examining family, Wesley delivered his message through the lens of the legendary television sitcom, “The Cosby Show.” I recommend watching all three parts. Here is the link for part one. And here is the link for part three.

But for about 10 minutes in part two, Wesley focused on money.

In the meat of his sermon, Wesley pulled from Genesis 25 to present four legacies we are obligated to leave our children: Financial freedom. Family. Faith. Fortitude.

“Abraham understands that my legacy is not determined by what I wear,” Wesley said. “My legacy is not found in how much I earn. My legacy is not defined by what I drive, and where I live, and the brand names that I wear. No, my legacy is determined by my ability to create financial freedom for the generations that come after me.”

I want to be like Abraham.

Here are four financial-focused points from Wesley’s sermon that resonated with me:

  • Legacy is about our past: “When we use the term legacy,” Wesley said, “it is a reminder to us that none of us got here by ourselves.” As I pursue financial freedom and aspire to generational wealth, this is an important reminder. My legacy did not begin with me. Whatever I accomplish, I will not have achieved alone. Many people before me laid a foundation that has allowed even my audacious dream to have a place.
  • Legacy is about our future: “It’s about a reminder,” Wesley said, “that we have an obligation and a commitment to support a successful spinoff.” Like the mark of any classic television sitcom, our legacies are tied to the success of our offspring. And it’s up to us to ensure stability for those who come after us by leaving them more than we inherited.
  • Leave a legacy of financial freedom: “We have become free billboards for other families more than our own,” Wesley said, before rattling off a list of luxury brands. This one spoke to my recently revamped mindset on spending. Every dollar I spend on some high-end designer is a dollar I’m deducting from my family’s wealth. “A slave,” Wesley said, “is someone who was forced to work hard to make someone else’s last name wealthy.”
  • Four words for your financial vocabulary: They are debt, stewardship, retirement and investment. “If these four words are not part of your financial vocabulary,” Wesley said, “you are somewhere inadequate.” We must reject constant and crippling debt. We must be cheerful, charitable givers. And we must plan for the future by saying no to right now so we can invest into our legacies.

Darnell Mayberry is a sportswriter based in Chicago and is the author of “100 Things Thunder Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.” He loves his daughter Parker, money and the Minnesota Vikings. You will find his column, Money Talks, each Saturday on and Sundays in The Plain Dealer.


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