This morning, we continue to explore what DRIVES us… the momentum that Christ is trying to build in our life to help us keep following him.
Today, our focus is on how we INVEST IN RELATIONSHIPS. How are we reaching out and building up those who will be the leaders of the future? How are we teaching and mentoring our children so that they might carry this faith forward through the ages?
Just a few minutes ago, Doug/Pam shared with us a piece of the story of the prophets Elijah and Elisha.
Elijah knows that God is calling him away from this earth and he has been trying to prepare his protégé Elisha for the task of carrying on his work.
Elisha doesn’t think that he is ready and so he keeps clinging on to his master, his teacher. He isn’t quite sure that he can do it without him.
Most of us have had a mentor or a teacher, a parent or a family member who helped to shape us in our lives. One of mine was my youth pastor, Todd Rogers. He knew the lyrics to all the rap songs and would bust out in rhyme while we stood in line for events… which was a really strange thing for a tall, white guy to be doing. But he had this way of helping every person feel connected and important. He took our questions seriously… In fact, he helped me understand that the questions are just as important as the answers.
When I headed off to college, I wasn’t sure if I would find that same kind of love and support. But Todd laid the foundation, helped me to have confidence in myself I didn’t know was there, and had prepared me. I discovered, just like Elisha, that God was with me in this new phase of my life, too.
As we grow and mature in our faith, one of the tasks we are called to is to nurture the next generation. Like Elijah, like my youth pastor, like your own mentors…. We are now called to pass on the faith and share what we have received with others.
Our psalmist for this morning focuses his words on how we can do this in our families. So many of you have shared with me how your grandparents or parents faithfully brought you to church and formed in you the convictions that you have today.
One of the ways we are helping to equip parents to share faith with their children is our new children’s church curriculum. The truth is, we only get to see your children and grandchildren for an hour or two a week. You are the ones who are helping them to learn and grow every single day. And so our new curriculum provides some easy ways that you can reinforce the message we share on Sunday mornings. We send home with the children these sheets that include scriptures, prayers and thoughts so that together, you and your kids can grow together in faith.
But we are also called to mentor people outside of our families. In every aspect of our lives… whether it is our work or our area of service, we can be on the lookout for those who are our Elishas.
While we might love what we do, we can’t do it forever.
We get to a point where we retire, or take a break, or transition to a new ministry and at every one of those points, one of the marks of our legacy is not what we ourselves have accomplished, but how we have prepared others to carry that work forward.
And that means we need to invest in the lives of other people.
This is one of the lessons I am learning as I grow in my ministry. It probably won’t shock you to learn that I’m not an expert at what I do…. And I’m grateful for how you have been patient and graceful with me as I learn what it means to be the lead pastor of a church like this.
Last November, I was at a continuing education event where I was reminded, just as Michael Slaughter was in the book, that I need to set aside more time to strategically invest in the work of our leaders in the church. There are so many tasks on the to-do list… but it doesn’t matter what we accomplish if we are not mentoring and moving together.
So one of the commitments I’m making this year is to meet one-on-one with the leaders of each of my committees and teams each month. And I’m encouraging each of our staff to do this with their leaders as well. My hope is that all of us will grow in our faith in the process.
And I started living out that commitment these past two weeks by setting aside time to sit down and talk with some of you about your ministry here at the church. So far, I have had about 30 of these one-on-one meetings and I certainly have been blessed in the process. I’m excited about continuing this work and want you to know that you don’t have to wait for a phone call or email from me… I’d love to sit down with you and talk about whatever is going on in your life!
Slaughter writes that there is an “invisible line of people standing behind you” who have helped to shape your life and your ministry.
But you also are called to stand behind others. “Who are you parenting, mentoring, coaching, encouraging, managing, or leading?”
Who is your Elisha?