Passing the Baton

Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. 7 But deal loyally with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for with such loyalty they met me… ESV 1 Kings 2:6-7

We often live for retirement at our work, and on one level I understand. Work is hard, and it’s nice to look forward to being done. Or perhaps God is calling us to a new job, and we only have a limited time left. Regardless, at some point, all of us transition jobs, careers and callings, and how we choose to do that says a lot about our spiritual formation. Wise leaders spend time preparing their replacements and then adequately passing off their responsibilities.

As David grew older and increasingly removed from the daily life of his kingdom, cracks began to appear. Two of his sons led revolts and tried to install themselves as king. The first one created a civil war, while David averted the second through wise counsel from his closest friends. When David installed Solomon as king, he didn’t just turn him loose to reign. Instead, he spent time coaching Solomon on the important first steps he needed to take as king. Part of that included explaining to Solomon who the good and bad guys were in the kingdom. There were certain situations David hadn’t dealt with. Perhaps he had lost the will to challenge these evil people. Perhaps he felt he owed them certain things. Regardless, now that Solomon was in charge, he urged his son to sack certain people and deal loyally and faithfully with others.

While we must be careful in what we say about others, we can learn from David’s example the importance of passing our callings off to younger people. I’m forever grateful for the work of my predecessor. He candidly shared with me the joys and sorrows he had while pastoring our church, and his wisdom and insights have guided me well after his retirement. May you do the same. Don’t be afraid of the next generation. Don’t keep your knowledge to yourself. Don’t force them to learn through failure and mistakes. Like David, pass the baton of leadership by sharing everything you can to help the next generation. Then they will stand on your shoulders and thrive. That’s good leadership.

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