Passing the Torch: Four Ways to Prepare the Next Generation to Lead Well

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This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry + College/Career Ministry Kindle Retreat on Saturday, January 23, 2015.

Key Text: 2 Timothy 1:1-14

INTRODUCTION
The call to leadership is a call to discipleship. Christian leaders are given the responsibility to not only lead well, but to invest in the next generation so that they can carry on the gospel task. John Maxwell sums it up well: “The best leaders lead today with tomorrow in mind by making sure they invest in leaders who will carry their legacy forward.” In fact, one of the goals of leadership is to make yourself replaceable. Ideally, a leader should put people and systems in place so that if they have to leave their leadership role for some reason, things will keep running smoothly. As we will see in 2 Timothy, Christian leaders are commanded to “guard the good deposit” of the gospel in themselves and in those who they will pass the torch to.

EXAMPLES IN SCRIPTURE
It is interesting that none of the leaders in the Bible were seeking a leadership position. They were all underdogs and ordinary men and women who God chose and empowered to lead well. There are several positive and negative examples in Scripture of leaders passing the torch to the next generation. In the Old Testament, there are two different “succession plans” that start out well, but end in disaster. The first one begins with Moses. God appoints Moses as the leader of His people, who will lead them out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. Along the way, Moses selected a young man named Joshua to be his special assistant and began to invest in him. Joshua was chosen to be one of the twelve spies to go scout out the Promised Land and he and Caleb were the only two that trusted that God would fulfill His promise to give them victory (Numbers 13). As Moses neared the end of his life, he asked God to appoint a leader to take his place and Joshua was chosen (Numbers 27).

Joshua then led the nation of Israel in the conquest of the Promised Land. In addition to his military prowess, he also kept the people on track spiritually by constantly reminding them of God’s law, covenants, and promises.  Joshua 24:31 tells us that “Israel served the Lord in all the days of Joshua.” However, Joshua didn’t appoint a leader behind him, which leads to the downward spiral of Israel in the book of JudgesRead more of this post

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Know Your Enemy: The Danger of Underestimating and Accommodating Sin

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry‘s Winter War Games event on Saturday, February 1, 2014.

Key Texts: Judges 2:11-17; Romans 8:5-13

What is the greatest enemy of the Christian? No doubt there are many enemies we face as believers: Satan, demonic powers, the temptations of the world, and sin just to name a few. Each of these is dangerous and something we should be on guard against.

However, Scripture tells us consistently that our greatest enemy isn’t Satan. It isn’t the demons. The greatest, most dangerous enemy for any Christian is his or her flesh. J.C. Ryle realized this: “Sin and the devil will always find helpers in our hearts.” My greatest enemy is myself. Your greatest enemy is yourself. From the day we are saved until the day we die, our new spiritual nature will be at odds against our old sinful flesh nature. Our hearts are idol factories! (Martin Luther) We must recognize this enemy that lives within us and take it seriously or it will overcome us.

In 1886, Robert Lewis Stevenson published The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the book, the respected Dr. Jekyll has an evil living within him that manifests itself periodically in the form of Mr. Hyde who goes on violent, lustful rampages. At first, Dr. Jekyll is appalled by the actions of Mr. Hyde, but as time goes on, he comes to enjoy the release from morality that his evil side offers.

At one point Dr. Jekyll says, “I had learned to dwell with pleasure as a beloved daydream on the thought of the separation of these elements. If each, I told myself, could be housed in separate identities then life would be relieved of all that was unbearable: the unjust might go his way delivered from the aspirations and remorse of his more upright twin, and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path doing the good things in which he found his pleasure and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil.” Thinking he could control the two, he develops a potion that allows him to switch between the good Dr. Jekyll and the evil Mr. Hyde whenever he takes it. However, the more he feeds and enjoys his evil nature, the more it controls him. Eventually, Dr. Jekyll gets to the point where Mr. Hyde takes over at random times and can’t be subdued by the potion. Recognizing that eventually Mr. Hyde will completely consume the once honorable Dr. Jekyll, Jekyll pens a note that ends with “I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end” and commits suicide.

See how deadly our indwelling sin is? It wars against us in our pursuit of holiness. It tries to take us captive, lull us to sleep, and lead us away from the God who redeemed us from the curse. It promises temporary relief and pleasure, and the more we accommodate it like Dr. Jekyll did, the stronger it grows until it eventually kills us.

Let’s look at how this played out in the nation of Israel.  Read more of this post

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