It seems like ever since I moved to San Antonio nearly 20 years ago I have been shirking my responsibilities….in the best possible way! I say this in jest, of course, but thinking about how to let go of my responsibilities and “pass the torch” so to speak is often on my mind.
Thanks to God’s grace and mercy, I have been intentionally following Jesus for more than 50 years. My life with Christ began when I was a freshman in college and has led me on some great adventures, and one recurring theme stands out: Share the gospel and live it. So, as I envision the gospel spreading from generation to generation and the Kingdom growing right where we are, I don’t take lightly my part in equipping younger women to take up that torch for their season, and then to keep the cycle going. In reality, whatever our age we should be playing our part. And one such part is to train the next generation.
Train Up the Next Generation
A phrase that motivated me early in my Christian life was “work yourself out of a job”. Train others to take your place one day. When you are in the middle of doing ministry you don’t instantly think of training and encouraging someone to take your place. You’re happy in your place! There have been times, though, throughout the years, that I have been able to do just that and hopefully these examples can be an encouragement.
I remember one of the first women’s Bible studies I lead here in San Antonio. It was a great group of young women and their love for God and each other was evident. They loved learning together, and praying together, and serving together. They just loved being together.
They were not quite so enthusiastic, however, when I began to remind them that we were not going to be a group forever. I kept repeating that they weren’t just learning and obeying for themselves, but so that they could be the next ones to lead other women to do the same. After about a year and a half, three of the women stepped up and stepped out of their comfort zones. Each one led a women’s small group Bible study. It was like watching baby birds learn to fly. I loved it. Their lives changed and the Kingdom grew.
Move Over, Ego
As I get older, I see this process take on some new looks. For several years now, I have been consciously stepping out of roles that I am doing, and maybe even doing well. I have stopped doing particular jobs or leading a particular ministry so that younger ones can see the need and step up. I did this when I sang with the church worship team. After more than 20 years as a “regular”, I stepped aside for others to use their gifts. And they have.
I also resigned as children’s ministry director. Even though I did love this work, it was not without its stressors. Sometimes volunteers called on Sunday morning to say they wouldn’t be at church. And sometimes volunteers DIDN’T call to say they wouldn’t be at church. All part of the job. And it could be easy to believe the lie that, “If I don’t do this, no one will.” But I finally concluded that I needed to open the way for the next person to use his or her gifts to serve in. I had to stop thinking, “if I don’t do the job, who will?” and instead trust the Lord to take care of His work. Sure enough, even before my last day, God provided a highly talented, energetic young woman to step into this role. She does a fantastic job and is mentoring and training others now, too.
A Season for Everything
These are just a few examples of moving into the next phase of my life and making way for others to move into theirs as well. I feel very blessed to see even a little bit of this cycle of life as I continue my Christian walk. I am able now to spend more time with individual women mentoring, listening, and encouraging them. Two scriptures speak to me as I think of each of us in our particular season:
If you’re currently in the worker-bee season of life, then let the scripture “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable (faithful) men (women!) who will also be qualified to teach others.” 1motivate you to find those you can train, and then allow them to “try it out” under your guidance.
And if you’ve done your job, and its time to step aside to let others practice and work out their faith, then let the scripture “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” 2 be a good reminder that there is a time to let go and let others get to work!