Lemonade without Sugar is Just Sour (Part 1)

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, June 7, 2014 1 comments

by Nathan Buck

When I was finishing my studies in seminary, I remember a lot of talk about how our denomination was changing and how our culture in America was changing. During one message from the president of the seminary, he addressed our class as the ones who would “navigate the changes” that were coming, and help transition the Church into a new era of ministry. I remember being excited by the idea of change, the idea of transitioning ministry out of the dark ages, and breaking the bondage of traditionalism in all denominations. I was raised Roman Catholic, and when I gave my life to Jesus, He called me to an evangelical protestant denomination. My wife and I were definitely positioned as a part of a lot of transition.

Transition is a funny thing, especially between generations. Ever notice that when one generation finally gets to "drive," it seems like their destination and legacy becomes all that matters? In front of them is often a generation that held on to the wheel too long and behind them is a generation ready to drive, but being forced to wait their turn. Their idealism, passion, and hope become blunted by being forced to sit in the back seat. Then when they finally get to drive, they over-correct, over-control, and repeat the same cycle of leadership mistakes their predecessors did.

Before I go farther, let me be clear about something. I never advocate losing expertise, talent, and experience from those who are ahead of me on the journey. Too often we cut off our experienced generation to grab the wheel, and we end up repeating mistakes that destroy our momentum. Then we hang on to the wheel as long as possible and end up forcing the next generation to bow to us and/or force us out. Worse yet, we may come to a meager end, realizing we cannot keep pace anymore, and our age and humiliation from diminished capacity force us to hand off to the next generation in a clumsy and bitter retirement.

We often do it in the name of legacy. Legacy is what we leave behind, something meant to be beneficial and carry on without us. Legacy is meant to be motivating, inspiring, and refreshing - like lemonade on a hot day.

Consider the following passages: 1 Samuel; 2 Samuel; 2 Kings 2:9; and Matthew 28:16-20.

Saul is infuriated and terrified about his legacy when David comes on the scene. God calls David to be king next, but Saul stubbornly refuses to make room for David. God gives Saul over to his desires and he is tormented by an evil spirit that keeps stoking the fear and desire to kill David. Saul saw David as a rival, because Saul saw his position as king as something all about him and what he could do. From a humble man, to a man corrupted by power, Saul's refusal to step aside leads to his murderous desire, suicide, and war between his followers and David's. His legacy was bloodshed, because his leadership was about his agenda.

Elijah and Elisha are the picture of a healthy mentoring and hand - off of leadership. Elisha still had to wait until Elijah was gone, before he could fully live in his purpose and calling. But Elisha was humble enough to support Elijah, and waited to receive Elijah's blessing to move forward. Elijah remained healthy in his mentoring, leadership, and relationships. What he did prepared and empowered those meant to carry on after him. His influence was very distinct. His life was a peek into God’s plans through Jesus.

Only Jesus came with a tight focus on His mission, and intentionally handed leadership over long before He "had" to. Jesus invested 3 years of life, ministry, and miracles into a group of young men (and women), and when He was raised from the dead, He handed them the "keys to the car" and said, "Drive!"

This post will be continued on Saturday June 14, with personal reflections on leadership from Nathan.


Alison B. said...

I love the story of Elijah and Elisha! Such an amazing picture of mentorship and perhaps where we got the phrase "handing over/passing down the mantel"? Part II of Nathan's post can be read: http://worldviewwarriors.blogspot.com/2014/06/lemonade-without-sugar-is-just-sour_14.html