I’m out of town again. I’m in Colorado with my youngest son as he recovers from surgery. No, he doesn’t live out here. He lives in Atlanta. But he was in a catastrophic accident four years ago and is paralyzed from the waist down. There is only one surgeon in the United States who performs this particular operation.
In one of the consultations, I asked the doctor, "Are you training your successor?" He looked surprised, but admitted that he hadn’t thought about it. Now I don’t think of myself as old, but I get the senior discount without requesting it. And this doctor is older than I am. So I said to him, "You need to think about that."
I think he was offended, but I’m not losing sleep over that. He needs to work on finding his replacement.
But guess what? The same thing is true for every Christian. Do you teach Sunday school? Who is being trained to do the same when you are gone? Do you have a ministry that is dear to you? Are you holding onto it as if you are the only one qualified to do it?
Churches often have one of two problems. Sometimes we cannot find enough volunteers to do all of the things we need done. Jesus told us to pray that God would send more workers, and indeed we need to do that.
But sometimes there are people ready to help, and someone else is unwilling to share the work. He/she has been doing it for years, and now is jealous to keep it. And that cannot be a good thing.
I am getting closer to the age when I will not be as productive as I have been for the last 35 years. I am glad to know there is a young pastor in Mississippi, another in Texas, one in Indiana and a couple in Georgia who are already carrying on the work, and probably better than I ever did.
In each case I have played a small role in preparing them for the work. In one case I led the future pastor’s wife to Christ and baptized her. In other cases I gave young men books, as well as the first opportunities to preach. In others I was simply an encourager.
I know that I will not preach forever. In a couple of generations, if the Lord tarries, my name will be forgotten. But the work will continue, and I should play some role in that. So should you.