December 10, 2017
Once again I am gone on a Sunday. I mentioned to Janet how different things are now compared to when I began preaching. For the first 30 years that I preached I was never gone over once per year, lately it seems I am away often. It is never without cause, but still something that I find strange to consider.
Last month Tom and I spoke of my likely retirement in a few years and the need to consider the transition. During the last leadership meeting there was a brief discussion of what my replacement might look like, what the needs of the congregation will be, the kind of fit that might be beneficial.
Now, before I am misunderstood, Janet and I are not planning to retire in the immediate future, but we are making plans for a future ministry adventure in a few years.
For the leaders to discuss the future is normal and necessary. Planning for a time when each individual is no longer leading means that we must be identifying and training those who will lead. It is a purposeful, deliberate, calculated process. It requires sensitive, spiritual hearts who are focused on the movement of the Spirit of God within the congregation. Identifying future leaders, cultivating spiritual awareness, and challenging growth in Christians is one of the tasks of God’s leaders.
As Barnabas and Paul trained Timothy and Titus to do their jobs, they also directed that they entrust what they learned to faithful men who might share it with others (2 Timothy 2:2). This isn’t a mysterious process, it is developing and maturing a faith oriented mindset in those seeking to serve God. In walking alongside others as we serve in the kingdom of God, leaders not only verbalize, but they demonstrate godly interaction with others.
Far more than only being friendly or engaging, it is the active intertwining of faith-based values into everyday exchanges. Working with young couples, strained relationships, or setting future goals for families, leaders develop this mindset in others.
As John told his disciples referring to Jesus, I must decrease and he must increase. Our current leaders, myself included, must focus on leaving room for the practice and growth of the next batch of leaders that God will raise up. I am thankful that our shepherds both see and embrace this concept.
We exist to honor our God. We seek to offer support and strength to God's people, to encourage and teach those who are lost, and to learn together what pleases Him.