“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NLT)
I feel as though I have spent most of my life preparing for the next thing on the agenda. As a child, school prepared me for life in general. College then helped me to prepare for a career. A first job was a starting point, which would progressively lead on to other jobs. Our marriage began with a first apartment and many decisions which set in motion a lifetime together. Our goal in childrearing was to raise our daughter to become a mature, responsible adult. We worked hard and diligently planned ahead for retirement.
Investing means purchasing something or devoting time and effort in the expectation of some benefit in the future. Our younger years are spent investing in life through the coinage of our work, relationships, community involvement, church, and family. We can spend a lifetime in preparation and investing in things because we trust that there will be a return.
Let’s look at this pattern of preparation and investment from a different perspective — our church life. We invest our time, prayers, and energy in our church in order to see lives change. My generation held the reins for its chapter in history, having a strong influence on church traditions and practices. We introduced new and exciting programs, music, and methods of outreach. But time moves on, and the younger generation is now stepping up to take charge.
Divestment is the natural follow-up to investment. The time comes to step back and to disengage. It is a normal progression to pass on responsibilities, possessions, and traditions to our children. As this happens, we also relinquish power and ownership. We entrust these things to our successors while allowing them to make their own adaptations as they see fit.
So it is, also, with church life. Change in our churches is normal — changes in music, dress, teaching styles, programming, finances, and so on. Change requires grace and flexibility as beloved traditions may no longer be observed. But how exciting it can be to watch this new generation carry the church forward into a bright future!
We can trust God to hold the church firmly in His hand. Passing on the mantle of leadership is a biblical pattern. Moses passed on the role of leadership to Joshua, Elijah to Elisha, and Paul to Timothy. In this same way, the older generation of believers should willingly pass on the work of the church to those who are following us. Our investment has borne fruit, and it is now time to divest.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, as one generation passes the torch on to the next, please preserve our unity and give us grace as the work of the church moves forward. Amen.
Beaverton, Oregon, USA