"And the things that you heard me say...entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." 2 Timothy 2:2.
Life is often compared to running a race (1 Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Tim. 4:7; Heb. 12:1). As the generations overlap and children are nurtured to adulthood, each generation is like a runner in a relay. Children are trained by their parents. After maturing, they become parents and train the next generation of children to maturity. Each generation needs to get the baton of maturity from the previous one and pass it on to the next one.
Three major stages (activities) in life are child (trainee), parent (trainer) and grandparent (mentor, or advisor). At each exchange in a relay, the new runner needs to get up to speed before receiving the baton, and the runner with the baton needs to hand it over at the right time. This illustration can be applied to many aspects of life, including families and faith. Let's see some examples to better understand how we can pass the baton.
1. Moses & Joshua
Moses, a great leader, led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt, established them as a nation, and prepared them to enter Canaan. Two months after Israel's exodus he appointed Joshua to lead the battle against the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-15). Joshua had been Moses' assistant since his youth (Num. 11:28) - a trainee with on-the-job training. Joshua became familiar with all that Moses did. They worked together. It is not surprising that God appointed Joshua to succeed Moses by leading the Israelites to capture and occupy Canaan (Num. 27:12-23). It's interesting to note that Moses commanded Joshua to remember past victories and to trust God for future ones. And also Moses commissioned Joshua and strengthened him for the task ahead (Deut.3:28). Thus we see how Moses passed baton to Joshua to continue conquering and inherit God's promises. Similarly we need to train and encourage the next generation to continue and complete the vision.
2. Elijah And Elisha
Elijah was a Jewish prophet (800 BC) who prophesied against idolatry in Israel. God told Elijah that Elisha would succeed him as prophet (1 Ki. 19:16). No one is indispensable, and eventually we have to hand over our roles in life to others. Elisha then "set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant" (1 Ki. 19:21). Elijah and Elisha travelled together (2 Ki. 2:1-6). Before he was taken to heaven, Elijah was told by God to visit Bethel, Jericho and the Jordan. Each time, he asked Elisha to stay behind, but Elisha insisted, "I will not leave you." He was a faithful trainee. Look for those who are closely attached to your vision and are committed to accomplishing your incomplete goals. Choose them and throw your mantle onto them.
3.Jesus And The Apostles
Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God came to rescue people from their sins (Mk. 10:45). During His public ministry. He chose twelve men, "that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach" (Mk. 3:13-19). These men, called apostles, were trained while they were "with Him" and then sent out to preach - both while He was on earth and after-wards (Mk. 6:7-13; 16:15-16). They followed Jesus, heard His teachings, and witnessed His miracles as well as His life, death and resurrection (Mk. 6:1). Jesus said His relationship with the apostles was like that of family (Mt. 12:49-50). He explained the parables to them, but not to the people (Mt.l3:10,36). He told them about His future suffering, death and resurrection, but they didn't understand until after the resurrection ( Jn. 2:22). He focussed on preparing them to continue the work He has completed on the cross- to make disciples of all nations. he equipped them to multiply by passing the baton of gospel to the future generations.
4. Parents And Children
Parents have the task of training the next generation to adulthood. Solomon wrote, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Prov. 22:6). Parents are responsible to develop each dependent child into a self-sufficient adult. This involves both training them and then releasing them (Eph. 6:1-4). Children should be trained to be adults, and when they reach adulthood they should be released from parental supervision and sent into the world.
Training is like helping the next runner get up to speed before receiving the baton of maturity. If we are trainees, are we willing to be like Joshua, Elisha, Timothy and the apostles? They served willingly and were eager to learn. If we are trainers, are we willing to be like Moses and Paul? Are we training the next generation to maturity, or are we hindering their development? Are we looking for trainees? Moses and Paul saw the potential in Joshua and Timothy. Do we see the potential in the next generation? Such potential is not realized unless it is developed. As the next generation matures are we releasing the baton so they can run their race? Are we handing over responsibilities? Are we training ourselves out of a job, so others can carry on when we are no longer able?
Let's pass the baton of faith and service to the next generation: by training our children to maturity and then releasing them to develop as adults. Pass on what you have learned in life to others to prepare them better equipped to face realities of life. Thus each generation advances in knowledge and skill and vision to develop into better people to glorify God and bless others.
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