80 years ago Julio Balde joined the Boy Scouts of America and fell in love with the Scouting life. Whether he was hiking in the wilderness, setting up a camp, or simply undertaking the tasks necessary to earn that next merit badge, Julio always felt at home with his troop. After earning top marks, he transitioned into leadership. And through the years, Julio’s troop averaged more than 50 scouts per meeting and fielded an impressive drum corps and color guard unit. Now at the age of 92, Julio is stepping away from Troop 102. But his mentorship to generations of young scouts will never be forgotten.
I know that many of us in full-time ministry know exactly how Julio must feel. We’ve worked through good times and hard times, and we’ve seen just how much of an impact our efforts have made on those around us. As many of us are getting older, I know a we’re thinking about transitioning out of our leadership roles and beginning to think about passing the baton to the next generation. But that’s not always as easy as it sounds.
It can be difficult to think about our lives outside the four walls of our church. Often we can fall into the trap of anchoring our identity in our job. But we know that our true identity is in Christ — and that it isn’t really our work that we’ve been doing all this time. Instead, we’ve been partnering with God to accomplish his great purpose of spreading the good news of the gospel. We can rest assured, come what may, Christ’s work will continue as younger men and women within our denomination are equipped and mentored for the ministry. I’m encouraged by what the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to his protégé Timothy:
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV).
I’ve talked with many of our pastors through the years and seen their dedication to Christ’s mission of bringing many sons and daughters into communion with him. As we transition into this new season of mentorship, I pray that those among us with great experience will be able to pass along that wisdom, just like Paul did for Timothy. If we can do that, I know our future in Christ will be brighter than any of us could imagine!
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.