Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
The Christian life is often portrayed as a race. One type of race that I find particularly fascinating is a relay race. One element of a relay race that differs from other race events is that it takes a team effort to be successful. No individual runner can win the event!
One runner from each team initiates the competition by leaving their team's station and carrying his team’s baton. He runs his length of the race before returning to the team's station and hands the baton to the next runner in line. The first team to have all runners complete the course caring the baton wins the race.
After some research on relay races, I found one key to winning these races is properly exchanging the baton. All teams who enter a particular event will have runners that are in race condition, most will have good running coaches that teach them proper breathing and stride technique, and some will have a slight talent advantage. All this being considered, the margin of time from a win to a loss is typically decided by a few seconds. Poor passing of the baton can lose a team valuable seconds that could potentially cost them the race.
In the Bible and church history, there are many instances where we see the passing of the baton. We see Paul passing the baton of a church plant to Timothy or Titus, we see Christ passing His earthly ministry to the apostles, we find church planting pastors passing their congregations to faithful converts, and perhaps a bus captain or Sunday school teacher passing their flocks to a new shepherd.
One particular flawless passing of the baton I found in scripture is Moses passing his baton to Joshua. When it was time for God's leader to pass from the scene there was a man who was ready to take the baton. He continued and grew God's vision for His people. Here are a few things Joshua did while waiting for the baton to prepare him for his length of the race:
Joshua lived differently before he had a position of leadership. He refused to follow the crowd when the crowd wasn’t following God or his man! Joshua was sent with 11 other men to see how they were going to take the land God had promised them. While on the escapade 10 of the men changed their mentality and decided God couldn’t do as He promised. Joshua refused to change with the crowd. Leaders must be different, but God can’t trust us with influence if we are not living differently now.
It’s often said the best leaders were quality followers! Joshua was always in sync with the vision the man of God presented to God’s people! The Bible refers to Joshua as Moses’ minister. He faithfully served Moses.
If you are not a good follower, you are not ready for the baton of leadership! Followers who have the mentality that they are more knowledgeable or would make a better leader rather than accepting their leadership as God ordained will be given the same type of follower when they receive the baton.
Spying out Canaan, serving Moses, fighting battles, or getting alone with God; Joshua built confidence to lead God's people by faithfully taking care of the smaller things in his life. Often in a desire to do more and accomplish greater, we fail to complete the smaller things God puts in our life as stepping stones to get there.
One of the greatest examples I have seen of a flawless passing of the baton is in our church! God had Pastor Esposito (my dad) start and lead our church for over 20 years. Pastor Esposito had a stroke and was no longer able to lead our church. It was a no-brainer as to who should take the baton, at the time Bro. Meyers—our current Pastor.
Pastor Meyers for years was like the engine hid under the hood that makes the car move! God would give often give Pastor Esposito vision for our church and Pastor Meyers would organize and make the vision come to be a reality. He lived top-notch before he was Pastor, he was always an evangelist for the vision, and he transitioned seamlessly into being our Pastor because he was already running much of the church's operations behind the scenes.
Will you be ready for the baton? The answer lies in how you are living now!
There are certain things in life that if we truly love them, there will be a counterbalance of hate for what opposes them.
If God gave us the opportunity to have WHATEVER we wanted, what would it be?