Next-Generation Stewards: How to Build upon a Sure Foundation

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I recently heard a man who had purchased and completely restored an old house say that he saw himself as a “next-generation steward”: He spent a great amount to acquire a property he could restore. He prided himself in using the new and improved to preserve the old and proven. Since the foundation was sure, his vision was to see the grandeur of the old house live into the future, not to build a new house.

This man understood that being a steward means managing and preserving what someone else designed and built. His challenge was to use current upgrades to restore and preserve the home without tampering with the original design or integrity of the home.

Building upon a Sure Foundation

Such a next-generation steward might dislike the paint, he might upgrade the appliances, he might replace all the carpet, but he understands that if he ever changes the original design, he does not meet the criteria of a steward. The mission of this steward is to take a well-worn home and make it relevant with upgrades and new finishes while preserving the dignity of the original for future generations.

The new and improved does not change the old and proven; it just enhances the curb appeal and ensures that the house will last. Click To Tweet

The words “next-generation steward” grabbed my attention, and I began to wonder if l could describe myself as a next-generation steward of the kingdom of God. God, the original designer of humanity, articulated and crafted a beautiful and timeless plan of grace and truth to restore and preserve what sin had destroyed. He paid an enormous price for redemption to be available to us. Are we preserving God’s original design yet making His kingdom relevant for those needing to discover His salvation?

As those preceding my generation, I too recognize the beauty and value of the apostles’ doctrine. I appreciate Acts 2:38, and as one embracing this amazing truth, I recognize that whatever upgrades and style changes I make to the presentation of this truth, these changes can be made without altering the integrity of the message. Every communicator adds personality, creativity, and taste to his presentation, but the moment we begin redesigning the foundation, we fail as stewards to preserve what people need for true redemption.

The Timeless Message of Jesus Christ

The danger for both previous and later generations is that we can easily begin placing personal preferences alongside some of the original design elements, and over time they blend to become one. (Every generation since the apostles is a later generation to the one that preceded it.) When this blending happens, we may fail to distinguish between someone wanting to repaint a wall and someone tearing half the house down and starting over. In order to ensure the house remains authentic and preserved, it is imperative to embrace the reality that methods shift with the times, but the message is timeless.

Preferences are packaging, and God wants us to package His grace and truth in the best ways possible in order for it to reach the lost. In other words, we should use relevant and appropriate means to ensure the gospel is effectively communicated now and to following generations (I Corinthians 9:19-23, NKJV).

Preference versus Principle

Here are some things to consider:

  • In corporate gatherings God wants to be glorified. He does not care if we play a harp or an electric guitar so long as our choice is an expression of true worship.
  • God does not care if a pulpit is acrylic, wooden, a metal music stand, or whether we have no pulpit at all. He just wants people to be born again of water and Spirit and to live transformed lives.
  • Some prefer a suit and tie while others prefer to dress casually. Some prefer business casual while others are more formal. But these all are preferences. In the context of God’s redemptive plan, it really does not matter which style one prefers.

I believe the integrity, the value, and the preservation of the gospel are threatened the moment the older or newer generations begin presenting preferences as a fixed truth.

So grab a hammer and a sword, because some things are worth renovating, improving, and protecting.

When we are able to properly distinguish between what is principle and what is preference, we can better see what is worth defending and what changes with time.

The new and improved does not change the old and proven; it just enhances the curb appeal and ensures that the house will last.

The challenge for both generations is not to lose focus on the vision because they are too busy defending preferences. In light of the timeless foundation we have, ask the following questions:

  1. Is my focus more on preferences I like or do not like or on communicating the timeless gospel to a lost generation?
  2. Do I find myself more upset at people I think are stuck in the past or those I think are too cutting edge rather than excited about discovering new ways to speak the truth in love?
  3. Do my conversations with peers tend to be more about others who do things differently than about trying to enhance my effectiveness in reaching lost people and making sure the changing times do not erode the house God entrusted to me as a steward?
  4. What can I repair and upgrade to ensure that truth and grace still reach lost people and are successfully handed to the next generation?

My prayer is this: “Lord, help me to keep the main thing the main thing, so that people seeking redemption will find it. Help me to leave this house in such a way that those following will want to live in it and make their own choice to become a next generation steward.

So grab a hammer and a sword, because some things are worth renovating, improving, and protecting.

Brent Keating pastors at Livingway Pentecostal Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana.


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A version of this content originally appeared in Forward.