Have you ever run a relay race?
If you have, you’ll know that how well your team passes the baton matters just as much as how fast you all run.
I participated in a few relay races during high school when I was on the track team, and learned that there’s a knack to it.
When passing the baton to your teammate, you have to make sure that they’re up to speed first: at a sprint. You can’t hand off the baton at a standstill or even at a jog or your team will fall behind.
Therefore, we were taught a method to use at track meets when coming up behind the next runner on our team. We would shout out the name of our particular school, then say, “Go!”
Our next runner would immediately start sprinting with one hand behind them, ready to grab the baton in the passing zone. They wouldn’t look back at us, but simply keep running and power forward once we’d put the baton in their hand.
I think some these tips can apply to how we “pass the baton” to the next generation of believers in our spiritual race.
First, we have to make sure we’ve trained them up well by telling them about God and His work in our lives. We need to ensure that they’re exercising their faith and strengthening their spiritual muscles on a regular basis.
“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)
Next, when we’re ready to pass on leadership to the next generation, we have to make sure that they’re up to speed first. If we hand off the baton to them too early, they can stumble and fall behind. We should make sure that they have a solid grounding in Biblical truths and a knowledge of how God is working in the church and in the world.
“An athlete who runs in a race cannot win the prize unless he obeys the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5)
We also must ensure that they remember whom they’re running for. We should proclaim the name of Jesus to them at every opportunity, so that when they hear Him say “Go!” they joyfully hit the ground running.
It’s also important to tell the next generation of believers not to look back or waver once they’ve begun their race. Jesus said:
“Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
For those of us who are of the previous generation, there’s another thing to remember. Once we’ve passed the baton, it’s out of our hands. Literally. Let the next generation run their own race. We can cheer them on, but let’s not interfere.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
So we say to the next generation:
On your marks, get set, go!
© 2022 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.