Today I attended a class on mentoring and empowerment in youth ministry. It left me with some thoughts that apply to all of us. I hope that you will think about how they apply to you.
The twelve disciples who followed Jesus had no question what their mission was. His wisdom and His love exceeded anything they had ever imagined. They loved and trusted Him completely. They chose to follow Jesus to establish a kingdom of love that would abolish all other kingdoms.
While Jesus was with them, His disciples expected his kingdom to be established at any moment. Each disciple was obsessed with his place in the kingdom. After Jesus died and rose again, His disciples asked Him if this was when He would restore the kingdom to Israel.
We are here 2,000 years later because Jesus’s disciples accepted that they would not finish the work themselves. They nurtured new leaders. They wrote down their experiences. God used them to share the treasures of His kingdom with us. They passed the torch. What we do with it is up to us.
Passing the torch is a metaphor from the world of sports. I recently heard it expressed this way: First we think we’re in a sprint. Later we think we’re in a marathon. Then we learn that it’s a relay race. God has put you where you are to pass your torch to others.
A lot of people are obsessed with getting their torch into the hands of a young person who can carry it for a long time. But the Bible says we should plant beside all waters, because we do not know where it will prosper. God called Moses when he appeared to be at the end of his life, and he served 40 years. God called John the Baptist before he was born, and he served about six months.
When we limit our investment to a small number of people, it is tempting to try to control them, to try to make them start from where we are instead of starting from where they are, not to tolerate their failures, not to really let go of the torch.
Once we have passed the torch, our role is not to control, but to encourage and support. Those who carry the torch will make mistakes. They will be targets of opposition. They will be tempted to quit. Never stop praying for them. They need your private encouragement and your public support.
In summary, God put you where you are to share the treasures of His kingdom of love with others. Pass the torch to anyone who will take it. When you pass it, let it go. Pray for those who carry the torch, encourage them, and support them. Jesus will return soon. We are close to the end of the race. Go pass the torch.