Passing the Buck or Passing the Baton

Pastor Meyers
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

The United States has always been strong in the area of track and field. We are particularly strong in the 4x100 relay races. Since the 1932 Olympics, the American women's teams have won more gold medals than the rest of the world combined. Since the 1920 Olympics, the men have won over 70% of the gold medals. In the relay race, four runners each run 100 meters. As a runner comes to the end of their 100 meters, they face a critical junction where they hand the baton they carry off to the next runner so that they may run their 100 meters. It seems simple.

In the Beijing Olympics of 2008, both the men’s and women's teams of the United States failed to win. They did not lose because they were not prepared for the race—they had been preparing for that event for four years. They did not lose because they were not the best teams there—they were both favored to win. Both teams lost for one simple reason: they both failed to successfully pass the baton off to the next runner.

What Paul is telling Timothy is that it is the responsibility of each Christian to take the truth which they have learned, that which someone has given to them, and pass it off to another believer. If we are honest, that is probably the weakness of most Christians. I'm not talking about Christians who don't love the Lord or who don't go soul winning. I'm specifically talking about those who do take the gospel to others, who do win people to Christ.

How often are believers content to win someone to the Lord, and yet not seek to get them into the church? And how often do they get someone into the church and then expect the church to help them to grow as a Christian, without any input from the one who won them? That is passing the buck, not passing the baton.

As a new Christian excited about the Lord and stumbling into church for the first time in my life, the church helped me tremendously to grow in my faith. My pastor, Pastor Jim Black, helped me much with his preaching and personal encouragement. But alongside him were other believers in the church that noticed me as a new convert and gave me spiritual encouragement and assistance. There were many. Particularly, I think of our assistant pastor Dave Sisson. He would spend time with me after church services shooting baskets, but it wasn't just to shoot baskets—it was to encourage me in the faith. He is the one that invited me to go soul winning for the first time. To make sure that I went with him, he came by my home and picked me up, even though I told him I would meet him at the church.

Yes, the church shoulders responsibility for new converts’ growth. The preaching of the Word of God is supreme in that. The Sunday school teachers’ lessons and follow-up of new believers helps that. The church services, with the singing and the encouragement of being with God’s people, help with this. The programs that the church puts into place to set people on a path of growth, helps that. But none of this absolves individual Christians of their responsibility of taking the truth that God has had others teach to them and passing that on to new believers, those whom God brings them into contact with, or those whom they win to Christ.

Let’s take a personal assessment here with a few questions.

1. When it comes to encouraging and helping new believers, how are you doing?

2. Is there anybody you can think of in your church that you are encouraging in their faith?

3. Are you passing the buck, or are you passing the baton?

Pastor Meyers

Pastor and his wife, Alma, have seven children—Jessica, Allison, Stephen, Hannah, Jack, Josiah, and Emily. They also have 12 grandchildren.

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