Passing The Baton
Everyone ends up somewhere. (Check)
Few get there on purpose. (Check)
Most of us get there by accident. (Oops. That bad?)
This observation by Pastor Josh Gagnon (Next Level Church, New England) gives impetus to the need for parents to be more intentional in handing on to the next generation the most precious of all gifts, beyond even wealth and wisdom – Faith and Life in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In this part of the world, we are familiar with the Chinese adage that money seldom lasts more than three generations. The first generation were the wealth creators; the second were the wealth preservers. But, whoa, the third were the wealth destroyers. Some kind of regression to the mean? As inheritors, they have little idea of the value of money, nor how difficult it is to accumulate.
Besides, the Bible has given us early warning. Joshua as Moses’ anointed successor, led the children of Israel at a pivotal time into a strategic conquest and occupation of the Promised Land. He died at a hundred and ten. After the next cohort died, “... there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” (Judg 2:10)
Doesn’t take long for memories to fade and even mighty acts to be forgotten. Faith neither transmits nor transits automatically or smoothly across the generations.
Worse still, we may end up with superstitions rather than correct beliefs, rituals without the substance, and what 2 Timothy 3:5 calls “having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (KJV) Or some cute but equally detrimental distortion.
In a Catholic school cafeteria, a nun places a note in front of a pile of apples, “Only take one. God is watching.” Further down the line is a pile of cookies. A little boy makes his own note, “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.”
Thankfully, help is at hand. There are specialists and experts, books and seminars. Apologist Josh McDowell wrote a book and titled it The Last Christian Generation, not to be sensational but to drive home his concern – how easily this could ensue.
Bible camp director Chris Sherrod shares in summary form the key pointers which we ignore at our own risk. “First, we need a clear definition of what we’re looking for – do we want nice kids who don’t get in trouble, or passionate followers of Christ? Second, we must adopt a multigenerational perspective, providing opportunities for those older and wiser in the faith to impart a spiritual legacy to the next generation. Third, following the Deuteronomy 6 model, parents must possess and pass their faith on to their children, making the most of teachable moments and everyday life. Fourth, dads must take the lead, recognizing that they are the spiritual thermostat of the home and are commanded to raise their children in the training and instruction of the Lord. Finally, both the home and the church must educate in sound doctrine, equip in apologetics, and explain moral principles. Raising confident teens with a desire to make an impact for God’s glory doesn’t happen by itself. This requires eyes to see teachable moments and the determination to intentionally pass on our faith in daily living.”
We know the race of Life is like a relay race. It is fascinating to read Dr Jeff Myer’s description that “the race is about the baton, not the runners. The objective is to keep the baton moving at maximum speed at all times throughout the race. The baton must always remain the fastest member of the squad!” And it is at the hand-over that many races have been won or lost.
So, practice, practice and more practice, and always under pressure. Focus follows Intention. It’s worth it.
Andrew Goh is the honorary Editor of Impact.