Summary: You haven’t completed the race until you’ve passed the baton.
A number of years ago I heard about a survey of centenarians (people 100 years or older). The study asked these folks if they had any regrets about their lives. One of the top answers of the survey was: I wish I could leave something that lives beyond me. Another way of saying it is leave a legacy, something that you’ll be remembered for which will be passed on to succeeding generations. Although it’s one of the great desires of humanity, most people are forgotten a generation or two after their demise.
The reason most of us fail to leave a legacy is our focus. Leadership guru, John Maxwell, puts it this way: “Achievement comes to someone when he is able to do great things for himself. Success comes when he empowers followers to do great things with him. But a legacy is created only when a person puts his organization into a position to do great things without him.”
“What we leave as a legacy reveals our priorities. It shouts how we want to be remembered. It unveils whether we pointed to Jesus or us. It is the testimony of God’s work in our lives, the spiritual inheritance or baton that we leave to others. God’s plan for the church has always been that one generation would pass the baton of the testimony of Jesus to the next generation until His return. You and I are just one in a series of runners.”
“In the 440 yard relay, races [are] won or lost at the handing of the baton. To drop the baton [means] losing the race. All the hard work, all the … training, everything could be dashed with a single fumble. Rule number one of relay events [is] NEVER DROP THE BATON.
“The same is true of life. We have not successfully finished the race of life until we have passed on our baton to the next generation.”
John McElroy, “Leaving a Legacy”
This morning I want to share with you how to leave a legacy. As we look at the final act of Abraham’s life. He ran the race of faith, but before leaving the track, Abraham made sure to pass the baton to succeeding generations. He accomplished more than making a great name for himself. He succeeded in more than blessing the people of his lifetime. Abraham left a legacy by enabling succeeding generations to do great things for God without him.
This morning, let’s learn to pass the baton as he did. Remember that in God’s sight, you haven’t completed the race until you’ve passed the baton.
Passing the Baton
1. Coach them in the way of the Lord.
I’m only going to briefly mention this one because we’ve already touched on it with regard to Abraham. He left a legacy through his teaching. It appears that this is one of the primary reasons God chose him for the task of founding a nation. He knew that Abraham would instruct his descendants in the way of the Lord.
“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Genesis 18:19
Abraham set a pattern into motion that we see throughout the Bible. Parents are given the privilege and responsibility of teaching their children about God. Several hundred years after Abraham, Moses wrote this commandment to the Israelites:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9
God’s people were instructed to teach verbally, symbolically, and through modeling. The traditions, the stories of God and His people, the festivals, the commandments were supposed to permeate their lives. Parents were called to coach their children and grandchildren in the way of the Lord. The call continues with Christians:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
It’s not the school’s responsibility or the church’s responsibility. Parents are to make sure that their children understand the faith. They are to live it out in front of them. For some reason many parents in our culture have come to believe that the professionals are supposed to teach and coach and our job is to be the cruise director for their children’s pleasure. Kids are handed over to government schools where the faith taught is secular humanism. When they get a little older they’re handed over to hip, young, twenty-something youth directors who’ve never raised kids and often focus on being a buddy and having fun. We hand them over to Sunday school curriculum written by some guy in Nashville who know neither us nor our children and their struggles. We farm them out and fail to instruct them ourselves and then have the audacity to wonder why they’re not following Christ when they leave home.