Laced throughout the Bible are many examples of intentional legacy building by God’s people. After God spoke to Jacob and said to him, “Your name shall be Israel,” Jacob set up a stone pillar and called the place Bethel (Genesis 35:14). After God spoke to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments, Moses got up early the next morning and stood up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 24:4). And for Joshua, he set up twelve stones from the river Jordan to remember God’s clearing of the river for safe passage. He told the Israelites to use the stones as a reminder to tell their descendants about what the Lord had done for them (Joshua 4:21-24).
The Israelites regularly used “standing stones” to remember a covenant with the Lord and to mark the significant events for their descendants to remember. The same concept can apply to us. Our legacy is not just about monetary transfer of wealth or even passing along a good family name. Legacy is about the standing stones you place throughout your life as you pass the values, faith-lessons, and inner-wealth on to next generations.
Create Legacy. God wants us to create historic markers. “They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan… as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down.” (Joshua 4:8 NIV) Intentionally marking the points in our life that have impacted our character, family, and faith creates the opportunity to pass a legacy.
In the gospels, Jesus repeatedly established the important teachings of His ministry that would become His legacy. 1 John 2:6 reminds us that “Whoever claims to abide in Him, must walk as Jesus walked.” It has been said that Jesus’ disciples were easily recognizable because they were covered in dust. They were following their rabbi so closely that the dust from the rabbi’s feet covered them. Jesus journeyed with those whom He loved to show the way. He also stopped time and time again to share a parable through which the disciples were to use to create a memory for His teachings.
You can mark the moments of your life that establish your legacy with your loved ones by journeying with them, spending time in person or through writings, and communicating the wisdom that is your legacy. Write a family mission statement together as your very own stone of remembrance.
Remember. It is important to look back. Joshua told the Israelites at Gilgal “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’” (Joshua 4:21 NIV) Throughout the Bible, we see the importance placed on tradition and remembrance.
Even Jesus sought to establish a way for His disciples to remember His sacrifice. “And He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this is remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19 ESV)
Have you established tradition with your family? Consider setting up specific family meetings to consistently share the written and verbal stories of what has shaped you and your family name. Hang that family mission statement in a common place for all to be reminded of what drives your family.
Impart and Entrust. Joshua set up the twelve stones “so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:24 NIV) Joshua’s intentionality after the Jordan river crossing teaches us that the stones mean more with a lesson about how it represents their relationship and walk with God.
Perhaps God has blessed you in some way or an event has changed the way you walk with the Lord. In your shared stories, include the eternal lessons about God’s promise, His power as Comforter, Teacher, and Savior to mankind.
What are your standing stones? 1 Peter 2:5 tells us that “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.” Not only are we called to create standing stones, but we are also to remember them with our loved ones and to share the lessons of impact they had on our character, faith, values, family history, and life. The sight of stones erected by many in Biblical times may hint of a previous significant event, but without their story, without the intentional remembering and imparting of their significance, their legacies are lost.