The phrase HANDING OVER THE BATON, to many minds, would be that of an old leader who must vacate his position and responsibility for a younger person because the belief is that the older leader has now served his generation and a younger person is to receive his position and assume the responsibility of the older leader. No doubt when one serves as a leader, a time will come when he/she will have to do a hand over to someone younger. However, leadership as a position cannot be the only consideration when referring to handing over the baton, when it comes to Kingdom matters.
When the apostle Paul speaks to Timothy about handing over the baton, he does not refer to the church which Timothy is to receive to oversee as leader. The apostle Paul had a very good understanding of who the church is and of succession of leadership in Godly matters. Paul knows that in each generation, God is the One who chooses men to lead His people and to speak on the earth on His behalf. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:12 -It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.
In the Old Testament it is clear that man never has a say in who is to be leader over God’s people. The choice for leadership over God’s people has always been with God. In 1Samuel 16:3 Samuel, the prophet in Israel, receives instructions from God who he must anoint as Israel’s first king: About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him leader over my people Israel; he will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines.The second king of Israel, David, was also chosen and appointed by God: The Lord said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons (1Samuel 16:1). It is clear then; the nation of Israel had no say in the choice of David as king, or the father of David, Jesse.
According to Scripture men has a different standard than God by which He chooses and appoints leaders. For example men look to outward appearance. Jesse regarded David as insignificant and unimportant, therefore he did not bother to keep David at home at the time when the prophet, Samuel, came to see his sons. Samuel was on the verge of anointing the wrong person because outwardly Eliab looked like royalty: When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, surely the LORD’S anointed stands here before the LORD. But the LORD said to Samuel, Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (verse 6-7). The point is no man can hand over the baton when it comes to leadership. God does the selection and appointment. However, man can ask God to choose and appoint a leader as Moses did.
Paul, when speaking to Timothy about handing over the baton, identifies the baton as sound doctrine and practice. He says to Timothy; And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others (2Timothy 2:2 NIV). When Paul met for the last time with the Ephesians’ Elders, he gave them these last instructions which in essence give us an idea of what was in Paul’s heart when he spoke to Timothy; So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified (Acts 20:31-32).
What Paul is handing over to Timothy, he received from Jesus. And what Jesus handed over to Paul, He, Jesus, received from the Father. In Luke 4:18 – The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. 2Timothy 2:2 pictures a spiritual relay race. This relay race started with Jesus. 1Corinthians 11:23 For I received of the Lord what I also pass on to you. Paul did not only receive instructions about the table of the Lord, but much sound doctrine which is to be passed on to reliable men so that generations to come can have the saving knowledge of Christ in their midst. Timothy must pass on what he learnt from Paul to reliable men who in turn must pass it on to another generation of reliable men.
God’s Word is held in high esteem by God and it has intrinsic power to change lives, families, communities and generations. If there’s something that God’s people must be concerned about to hand over to a next generation, then it is the Word of God; yet we find many churches that don’t even have a Bible study program for God’s people who are placed in these churches by God. If handing over the baton is limited to the appointing of new leaders, then the church is in big trouble. Only one person can become the new leader of a church or an organisation, but when the Word of God is entrusted to many sons/daughters, many new churches and Christian organisations can be planted that in turn, can give birth to much more reliable men, qualified to pass on that which has been received by former generations- the Word of God.
Reliable men are men who can keep rank. These are men who will keep God’s Word in an unadulterated form while things around them change. The modern society,in which the believer finds him-/herself, has new moral standards which it is imposing on the church; however, he search for reliable men who can pass on what Paul has left for Timothy and the generations to come must never cease. God always has people to take over the baton.
Written by Terence Europa
Founder & President BOH7