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A Foundation Handed Down

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“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.” (1 Corinthians 3:10)


The Apostle Paul can come across as a bit arrogant at times, but that is not who he is deep down. In this passage, we have the privilege of witnessing a humble faith, through his words. Paul realizes that whatever he accomplishes will not be the end-all. We are here for a short time on this earth, and most of us will make our seemingly small impact, and then fade away from memory. What we can hope is that the positive foundation we lay down will influence generations long after we are forgotten.


I still receive newsletters from the first congregation I served as an ordained pastor. As the years have gone by I’ve recognized fewer and fewer names described in its pages. I remember each person as they were nearly thirty years ago. Many have died, while others have moved to different places. Other people have replaced them in leadership. If I went back to visit, few would even recognize me. Yet, I am pleased to acknowledge that the church continues to remain healthy and vibrant. Their memory of me will continue to diminish, but what is important is that the foundation my generation laid in that church gets built on for generations to come.


We will not be remembered indefinitely. I can only remember one of my great-grandparents. I only vaguely remember stories of one great-great grandfather. Before that, they are simply names in a family genealogy book. Yet, I know I’ve been influenced by each one. My great-great grandfather was a Congressman in the state of North Dakota. The family’s emphasis on education came from his example. The great grandmother I remember married a terrible man who beat her and finally left her. She taught the family resilience and determination amidst hardship. My daughter Hannah is influenced by them, even though I doubt she has even seen a picture of them.


Today, think about your family tree. Try to remember the stories behind the names. What foundations did they leave for you? Remember the painful ones, as well as the cherished memories. All the family experiences lay their separate foundations. Now, what is the family’s faith history? What denominations? How did they live their faith? Each of these remembrances help determine who you are and what you now believe. Take seriously the foundations you are laying down. It will affect you to the “third and fourth generation,” and beyond.