Mike and Cindy Stein’s journey in generosity is marked by perseverance, commitment, and most notably an intention to multiply. Through God working in their hearts, together they discovered their legacy, and have begun passing on those values to their children.
Mike and his wife Cindy came from different backgrounds and perspectives on generosity, but their early years of marriage provided ways to grow together. It became an important piece of their journey.
“Financially, I have always lived well below any income I made, and I did that intentionally so I could give,” Cindy said. Soon after they were married, her generous heart had rubbed off on Mike as she, and the Holy Spirit, brought her husband to a point of faithfully giving 10%.
After 10 years of marriage, a defining moment in their journey of generosity happened when Mike and Cindy attended a conference together.
One of the conference speakers was a man who told an inspiring story of how he had increased his giving every year for decades with his wife. From growing up with nothing to developing generous hearts, he and his wife had increased their giving 1% every year of marriage and were now giving away 75% of their income.
After the speaker challenged everyone with his personal story, Mike and Cindy left feeling called to do the same in their lives.
“By attending that conference 15 years ago and changing our mindset on giving, we have been able to do far more than we ever imagined possible,” Mike said.
Putting Inspiration to Action
In the following years, Mike and Cindy continued to pursue ways to grow their generosity. They were supporting missionaries through Operation Mobilization (OM), a worldwide ministry that has impacted over 1 billion people with hearing the gospel for the first time. Mike was encouraged by a friend to join the organization’s staff and has now been at OM for 10 years. A move to OM for both Mike and Cindy meant a major pay cut, but God had designed their transition. A real estate business that Mike and Cindy had purchased years prior to raise extra money to support missions allowed them to join OM themselves.
A Legacy Develops
When Mike and Cindy came to the point of selling their real estate business, they had reached the increment of giving 25% away. They wanted to support various charities through the proceeds of their business sale, and their donor advised fund (DAF) provided a simplified way to accomplish this.
“A DAF gives you the opportunity to really take your time and think it through what you want to give to,” Cindy explained. “If we felt like we needed to give everything away from our business sale all at once, we would have missed on opportunities to really help people who were devastated by something in the following year.”
“We were far along in the process of contributing a large part of the business sale to charity when we became aware of the opportunity to also set up donor advised funds for our two girls and their husbands” Mike said.
The idea of gifting donor advised funds triggered a special conversation and family gathering that the Steins had yet to experience together. They told their daughters that they needed to gather for an important family meeting.
“Our daughters were thinking of all kinds of outrageous things about what this meeting could be,” Cindy said. “They thought we were leaving the country or some other bad news was about to be shared. They were both excited and relieved when we told them about what we had been working on.” The conversations were positive and stirred a passion for a future of generosity in the two couples.
“The Signatry was great to work with! They provided us with certificates to give to our girls, family talking points, and a booklet for our daughters all which were really valuable resources that were very helpful,” Mike said.
Mike and Cindy had named their fund “Seeds for Sowing” to show the idea of providing for people in such a way that it would reproduce in their ministry and not be just a ‘here and now’ gift. Their adult daughters took it seriously and took several weeks to think about the purpose and name of their own funds with their husbands.
Family Legacy in Action
Now, every year at Thanksgiving time, the three family units come together to spend time opening their hearts about where they have been generous, what charities are meaningful to them, and the stories that came from their giving.
“To be able to have a designated time to talk about this was my favorite thing. This wasn’t going to be smushed-in or a hodgepodge conversation,” Cindy said. Mike and Cindy have watched as their daughters find joy in having a specific fund for charitable giving and begin to invest in it themselves.
“I felt like we gave them an opportunity to be as generous as they both really are, and to bring their husbands along in that… and, eventually, their children,” Cindy said.
The Steins have taken the steps to initiate their entire family’s generosity. Mike’s tenure leading the financial development efforts at Operation Mobilization has helped raise the ministry over 150 million dollars, their small business gift brought their incremental giving new strength, and their lifestyle of generosity have all contributed to a legacy that is now implanted and forwarded to the next generation.
Building a family legacy like the Steins’ is a beautiful journey that every family can encounter. The Signatry provides the tools, resources, and conversation support to help develop a legacy of Kingdom impact. Learn more about generosity solutions, legacy planning, and starting your own family giving plan at thesignatry.com, or contact our Donor Care team at [email protected] to take your next steps.