His hands were shaking and beads of sweat formed above his lip and his forehead. "It seems like every time I'm in this room with you I get nervous!" he said with a wry grin.
He was right. I had seen his hands shake and the beads of sweat form two other times when he was in the same room. The first time was when I was privileged to be a part of his being baptized into Christ. The second time was when he married his wife — I performed the marriage service that day. This third time, however, he was in charge. He was getting ready to baptize his own daughter into Christ. Yep, he was nervous, but nervous with deep joy.
I didn't have an official part in the third event that brought him back into the back room, but I can tell you it was my happiest moment of the three. Sure I loved baptizing him. You bet I was excited to be able to officiate his marriage service. The third time gave me the greatest joy because here was a man, a mature believer, and a dad. I had seen him mature through the years and now he was passing on his faith to his daughter!
Few situations bring more powerful joy than when we get to witness someone in whom we've invested pass on what they now believe and hold as their own faith, to someone else. Two passages come to my mind as I think about this. The first is from John, talking about the maturing young Christians in a church he oversees:
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4 TNIV).
The second is from Paul, talking about Timothy and how Timothy had absorbed Paul's passion, teaching, and lifestyle and could pass it on to others:
For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church (1 Corinthians 4:17).
Our goal in any form of Jesus-styled leadership — whether as a parent, Bible class teacher, small group leader, boss, work team leader, manager, teacher, coach, etc. — must be to reduplicate our strongest traits in others who can then carry on the task, mission, effort, outreach, ministry, and goals that lie close to our heart. In fact, our greatest delight as an influencer and leader is seeing those we lead carry on "our" mission as their own. More than just being a junior version of ourselves, we want them to take our best qualities and add their own skill set and passions to do an even better job in ways we never could!
Notice how Paul speaks about this in regard to his son in the faith, Timothy. In the first statement, Paul stresses to Timothy the multi-generational nature of genuine leadership:
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
This second quote shows Paul's confidence that Timothy can perform this task!
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel (Philippians 2:19-22).
In the Kingdom of God, leadership is not associated with garnering glory here on earth. Jesus was the prime example of real leadership, and he surrendered glory to come to earth as one us to share God with us (Philippians 2:5-11). Instead, a Christ-formed leader's greatest glory is seeing those in whom he or she has invested sharing a similar passion, living similar values, and adding their unique gifts and interests to the mix. At the heart of any shepherding leader following in the footsteps of Jesus is the power of example and the joy of seeing others pass on what the leader has invested in them.
I'm with John, "I have no greater joy" than to see those in whom I've invested doing what I did, except better! And about those precious ones in whom we've invested, I say with Paul:
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
The following are for your personal reflection as well as for use in discussion with others in small groups, house churches, or LIFE groups. I'd also love to hear your take on any of these questions on my blog: http://thephilfiles.com
Who is someone who has invested in you to help you become the woman or man of God that you are today?
- What would you like to say about them to thank them for their investment?
- When was the last time you said it?
- Why not write them a note and thank them now if they are still living and if they have gone to be with the Lord, then thank one of their children or grandchildren telling them about this person who made such a difference in your life?
Who is someone in whom you are investing — or should be investing — your passion, values, and goals?
- What skills and character qualities do you see in them?
- How can they bless the Kingdom of God?
- When was the last time you told them these things?
- How are you going to share these things with them in the near future?
A friend once said, "We can't live for our children, that's too limited a horizon. We must live for our grandchildren! That means we've got to help our children pass on to our grandchildren what we hold as most valuable to us."
- What do you think about this thought?
- How does this more accurately reflect what Paul taught to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:1-2)?
- How did Jesus embody this principle of passing on faith to multiple generations?
- How can you embody this principle in your relationships?
What is your greatest glory and joy in your influence and leadership of others?