Post: Living and Leaving a Legacy

Asian senior couple is signing legal financial contract and insurance health care benefit for retirement home visit service by professional lawyer consultant

By Tod Tanner

We are all going to leave a legacy. Some will leave a legacy of family values. Individuals in this category will have invested significant time with their spouse and children in an effort to share and pass down their faith from one generation to the next. Others will leave a legacy of joy. If we are being honest, we would need to confess that this world is difficult. We experience pain and loss in our journey. Those leaving a legacy of joy, however, do not let the temporary circumstances of this life hinder their outlook of eternal bliss in the life to come. No matter what the legacy may be, what we leave is contingent on how we live in the now.

Dr. Albert W. Wardin, Jr. of Nashville, TN is a man who left a legacy. Dr. Wardin was born on March 11, 1928. He went to his eternal home with Jesus on November 14, 2022. He was best known for teaching Baptist History at Belmont University. He came on staff at Belmont in 1967 and he faithfully served there until his retirement. The words that one could use to describe his life would be faithful and generous. Since this is the way that he lived, this is the legacy that he left.

In an effort to better understand Dr. Wardin’s legacy and the concept of living and leaving a legacy, we can turn to the writing of the Apostle Paul. He told Timothy, his son in the faith, “Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:17-19). The command in these verses is to instruct those who are rich in this world to not be arrogant but rather to store up treasure in glory and thereby take hold of what is truly life.

We can quickly find several facts about the life of Dr. Wardin in how he lived this out and thereby left a legacy of faithfulness and generosity. First, he was faithful in striving to actively fulfill the Great Commission. Dr. Wardin and Mrs. Lucile Peak Wardin, his bride of 38 years, consistently went on and support mission endeavors. They were known to have smuggled Bibles into Russia and Romania when these countries were under communist rule.

Dr. Wardin was also faithful in contributing to missions. He and Mrs. Lucile made significant contributions to and were instrumental in the establishment of the Cambodia Baptist Union and Baptist Center in Bulgaria. Nhem Nivath, the President of Cambodia Baptist Union, shared this statement at Dr. Wardin’s celebration of life service. “Dr. Wardin provided 70% of the support of the CBU office building. Now this building is busy with Bible programs, church services, and Baptist pastors meeting and praying every month.” The actions of Dr. Wardin in giving generously are the embodiment of what Paul taught Timothy. Dr. Wardin did not place his hope in the uncertainty of wealth. If he was hoping in wealth, he would not have given it away. Instead, his hope was in God who richly provided for him, and he enjoyed sharing God’s provision with others.

The faithfulness and generosity of Dr. Wardin will stretch beyond his lifetime and the Lord is truly the only One to know the immeasurable eternal impact. Dr. Wardin had developed an estate plan in which ministries such as American Baptist College, Warsaw Baptist Theological Seminary in Poland, Baptist Center in Bulgaria, First Baptist Church of Nashville, and Mill Creek Baptist Church will be benefactors. His estate plan was built in such a manner that these ministries, and others, will be receiving funds to use to fulfill the Great Commission literally until the return of Jesus. While many of us hope that Jesus will return today, if He chooses to wait another thousand years so that more will come to know Him, the legacy that Dr. Wardin left will be actively supporting those who are sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

Bill Gruenewald, the President of the Tennessee Baptist Foundation, said this at his celebration of life service. “Dr. Wardin has impacted many generations with his teaching and his mission work. All of the sake of the Gospel. He is leaving a legacy that will far outlast all of us here today. His generosity will impact many more generations so that they can hear the gospel message of Jesus Christ.”
The amazing thing that the story of Dr. Wardin is that it can be our story too. We can follow the example that he set for us as he modeled his life after 1 Timothy 6:17-19. We too can be known for being faithful and generous. But we need to make the same decision to not hold onto the uncertainty of wealth, but rather be generous and willing to share. We too can build an estate plan to leaves a legacy beyond ourselves. When Dr. Wardin passed from this world into his eternal home with Jesus, it will be safe to assume that he fully realized the impact of his living as his legacy became a reality.

Ready to get started?

You can reach us via phone at (615) 371-2029 or fill out this form.

Please note that the advice offered in this article is not intended to be construed as tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice for the reader. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.