There is probably no greater test of a leader’s maturity than when it comes time to pass the baton and move the spotlight to the next generation. Seasons change for everything the Lord creates. Entering with grace into the fourth quarter of life is normal for every leader. It’s how we handle that change that is the meat of this article. I have seen and observed the wasteful result as many of these old saints died gripping the microphone. They went down proud that they died “preaching the gospel.” These kind of leaders usually surrounded themselves only with servants and chief appendages until the “their” ministry dies with them. All those lessons learned, years of hard work and relationships made overseas, are gone in an instant as a result of pride and self-centeredness. Why didn’t they plan for the future? Why didn’t they teach and disciple young leaders?
Let’s look at some reasons for this prevalent malady;
1. They never understood the ministry wasn’t theirs.
They who know that one day they are going to meet their Maker and will have to give an account for their stewardship (handling what didn’t belong to them) usually have no problem making disciples. The problem today is that many Christian Leaders use the Ephesian 4: 11 gifts to make it about them and their anointing. Nothing could be further from the original intention of the Writer!
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, For the edifying of the body of Christ:
What part of “help others to serve others” do we not understand? To maintain the status-quo, most of the time they are busy misquoting the verse below;
Luke 16:12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?
2. They have never understood that there are seasons in Christian Leaders’ Lives.
The Lord says there is a time for everything under the sun. When we are young we are willing to run everywhere and witness to anything that has a pulse. Then come the middle years where we are busy building whatever we feel the Lord has called us to build. Soon after that, (after much suffering,) wisdom and maturity kick in, and these become the most productive years to pour into our sons and daughters in the Lord. Finally the winter of life sets in, our bodies began to ache, and we are just not physically able to do the things we used to do. Why cant we just age gracefully? Are not we the ones who are supposed to have the greatest revelation of eternity? Something is definitely wrong!
Why do most of these Bishops, “Pastors” and Elders die strapped to the saddle, you ask? Why didn’t they get down so another can ride? Or at least get off for a while so they can help another learn to ride?
Here are a few reasons;
a. They are insecure loners who would never hear or take advice from others. All their relationships are one-sided and are agenda-based. They only hear their voice. No one is qualified to speak into their life. Oh, they claim to be connected to others, but if you are on the inside, you know better.
b. They have a problem getting their affirmation in life from what they do in (ministry) and who they are (titles). They have never understood that our Heavenly Father doesn’t just love them for what they do. Why do they think like that? Because that’s how they operate. You are in their circle as long as you can produce for “their” vision. See an article on this: https://godsleader.com/when-ministry-becomes-idol/
c. Finally, they can’t recognize seasons because they are infatuated with themselves and the purity of their doctrine. The world needs to hear them because they are the Mandelas of Christianity. Without them the Gospel will not reproduce properly. They will tell you without shame that they are carrying the queen bee seed. I will mention one that is dead (William Branham) so as not to offend some of these guys (More than an Apostle) who are still alive.
A car that will not come out of first gear is said to be broken, and a Christian Leader who refuses to recognize the seasons of life is more than broken.
3. They don’t trust God and don’t have enough Faith to let go of the preach-for-pay system.
In case you have a problem understanding, the issue is MONEY! Preaching and pastoring in the religious system is their golden goose that lays the golden checks. They may preach about God and make great charismatic communicators, but they don’t have one ounce of faith to trust for God’s provision completely. They stuff those checks into their retirement accounts so they will be cared for when they no longer can preach. If you can’t meet their prerequisites, they will not come to minister to you. They claim to be protecting their gift, but that is not the way of my Jesus. Here is what I say; just because you live in an ungrateful society and you pastor a fickle congregation does not mean that you can give up on the ways of the Lord. God takes care of those He calls and not always from those they minister to.
4. They were never discipled, so they don’t know how to properly father sons.
They kicked and scratched for everything they have. The broke away when they were not properly recognized. They took some of the members, and left under the guise of a better doctrine or a better way of doing things. Now they watch like a hawk to squash anyone that shows the slightest sign of leadership potential. The only thing they will permit around them are lesser clones of themselves. In practical language this system is simply “bastards making more bastards.” The orphaned spirit is everywhere in our modern religious life in the 21st century. The only ones these leaders can’t fool are those in the congregation who feels the absence of a real leader when he travels. Most of these clones that remain usually are not gifted enough to maintain the congregation or smart enough to leave. Those that do leave are cursed from the pulpit and the vicious cycle continues.
5. Their Chief excuse is they (disciples) are not ready.
Of course they are not ready; they have never been given a chance to grow. These disciples live on promises, whether stated or implied, which will never materialize. Maybe these Christian leaders forget that they themselves were not ready when we they started. Recently I ran across a quote which relates to this “Great seaman are not made in calm seas.” I agree completely. We are called to build the ship out at sea. Serving the Lord and his people is not learned in books but from hands on daily serving and in watching our spiritual fathers serve others. Seminaries began in the 1500 and for the first 300 years trained Christian leaders on the job. It wasn’t till 1800 that they changed to make theologians who sell their resumes to the highest bidder and started spitting out talkers and not walkers. Paperback disciples produce exactly that, paperback saints.
Something has to change. A revolution is quietly at work in the church. It’s not the devil; it’s the Lord taking back what has always belonged to Him. We need once again to flow with the Holy Spirit. We need to commend our sons to Him who called them and to Him who accomplishes everything He starts. We need to trust the Lord in them and see our sons as He sees them.
John the Baptist was a great example of a man who passed the baton properly. When He saw Jesus he said, “He must Increase and I must Decrease.” Easier said than done!
Here are a few questions for personal introspection. Let the Holy Spirit speak!
Can you really rejoice seeing your sons promoted?
Can you recognize the change in seasons without feeling like you are being left behind?
Can you maintain composure as the spotlight moves off of you and on to your sons?
Are you equipping in the King’s Kingdom. or are you training servants to properly serve in your fiefdom?
What are the rules to play on your team? Don’t deceive yourself; 90% of your congregation don’t remember what you preached about last Sunday. What they do remember are the kind words and how you back up what you say with your life.
I love you man! Saying that once a week is not good enough. Show me you would still care for me even if I couldn’t do anything for you.
Your sons don’t want your money; they want your love! If you really love them, you will do all you can to see them attain all that our Heavenly Father has for them.
For all of you who have tirelessly served in the vineyard of the Lord to see: Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God-NKJV , we (the Body of Christ) salute you, and may your fourth quarter of life bear your greatest harvest for King Jesus! I am proud to mention two such men Dan Hubbell of Winnsboro, Texas, and Don Atkin of Matthews, North Carolina.
Pass the baton!
Jose L. Bosque
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