|Receive inspiration and information about faithful, joyful giving.|
Succession may be a wonderful word to the young, upwardly mobile entrepreneur. It speaks of progression, of advancement, of being included, of (finally) being in the driver’s seat. It may look quite different and threatening if you are on the ‘moving on’ part of succession. There will be the loss of control, a sense of no longer being in the inner circle of decision making or even being out of the loop altogether.
You may feel slighted as you watch changes being implemented. If you pass on the family farm or business, your successors will do things differently – sometimes for the better and sometimes not. There may be new crop rotations, different equipment, new partnerships, and more. Your lifetime web of friends and business associates will, slowly but surely, be replaced with new ones as your successors put their stamp on the enterprise.
Regardless of how much life experience and wisdom we may gather in our lifetime, eventually we will move on and others will take our place. The author of Ecclesiastes captures the wistful sadness of this in Ecclesiastes 2:21 "For though I do my work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, I must leave everything I own to people who haven’t worked to earn it.”
This sobering thought was reinforced recently when hearing a very gifted minister speak. He was turning 65 and planning to reduce his public ministry engagements. I thought, "what a shame.”. All this knowledge, wisdom, and skill honed on the anvil of a long life of public ministry. Was there no way to transfer this to the next generation? Must each new generation start all over again? Why does the wisdom of each generation have to end in the grave? Or does it?
Jesus faced a similar situation. How would the fledgling New Testament church carry on without him? What if they chose to do things differently than he intended? What if they made mistakes – big ones? For three years he poured his life into his disciples, and then, empowered by the Holy Spirit and he sent them forth to carry on his work. And the Jesus movement keeps going and growing even as generations come and go. What a movement. What a remarkable story of never ending succession.
Though we can’t extend our life, we can extend our influence beyond our grave. Consider these suggestions:
- Intentionally mentor the people around you as you go through life, including family, work and leisure associates. Let them see how you handle life; a difficult boss, a promotion, a tense home situation, a major disappointment, criticism, and your money practices.
- Tell (and write down) your life stories to the next generation. Include stories where God seemed distant and unresponsive as well as stories where God came through for you. Let the stories speak for themselves – go easy on the application.
- Empower the people around you by offering your affirmation. All of us walk a little taller and are capable of a little more when affirmed. The effect of affirmation will linger long after you and I are gone.
I am well aware that the meter on my life is running. Before long, I too will pass on the baton to those who follow. My goal is to leave behind something that is worth more and will last longer than money. I’m sure yours is too. Be intentional about it.
First published in 2007.