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Please enjoy the following devotional meditation written by Ascent College faculty member and Dean of Family Ministries Leadership, Dr. Jesse Joyner, as part of our “Psalms in the Summer” series.

We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
(Psalm 78:4-6, NIV)

Once when my daughter was seven, I was working with her on a Bible verse that she was trying to memorize. While learning the verse together, a number of theological topics came up in our discussion. I noticed that she was engaged and interested in hearing my take on this grand story of God. Then a powerful thought hit me: “Wow, here I am, passing on a story that has endured for generations, and I am just a tiny little steward of this story in the course of history.”

It was a humbling thought.

Stewards: Dad and Daughter

It was also very encouraging. It is exciting to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. God’s story precedes me, and it will endure long after my time on this earth. It is my job to care for it, stay true to it, be transformed by it, and pass it on to those after me – so they can do the same for the generations after them. According to Psalm 78:4-6, it is our duty to recount “the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord…so the next generation would know them.” Like a family heirloom, the story of God is a priceless narrative that neither begins nor ends with our generation. It was given to us, and we have the duty of preserving it and passing it on to those who outlive us.

Timothy George defined “steward” in the foreword to James Earl Massey’s book Stewards of the Story: The Task of Preaching:

“Stewards are trustees, into whose care and responsibility something precious – in this case, something infinitely precious – has been entrusted…, and they have a fiduciary responsibility to pass it on intact to those who will one day receive it in turn from them” [1].

Remember the telephone game? A line of kids would have to preserve a sentence from the start of the line to the end of the line by each kid whispering it into the ear of the person next to them. The sentence was almost always completely butchered by the time it reached the end of the line, often unrecognizable from the original statement.

Stewards: Telephone Game

God’s story is exponentially more valuable than sentences in a telephone game. That’s why oral tradition was a very strict art in ancient times. And when we were able to write it all down, God gave us the gift of holding onto this story in a textual form that was painstakingly written, copied, and preserved by prophets, rabbis, monks, and then the printing press.

Our job as believers is to preserve God’s story in its original form and pass it on as such. I always say that in preaching and teaching, the best strategy is to stick to the Word. We get sloppy and misdirect our hearers if we start making stuff up or ramble about our opinions.

Stick to the Word. Hold it close to your heart. Let it transform you. Pass it on in its original form. And teach others to do the same [2].

[1] Timothy George in Massey, James Earl. Stewards of the Story: The Task of Preaching (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), p. xiii.
[2] This is an updated version of a blog post by Dr. Jesse Joyner that was originally published in 2017 (https://jessejoyner.com/stewards-of-the-story/).