It has come to my attention lately that I have more years of life behind me than I do in front of me—at least physically speaking. I have raised my children and now enjoy spoiling my grandchildren. I’m so grateful that each of our six children are actively involved in good churches and they are helping their children to know and follow Jesus. Nothing could make me happier.
At this stage in life, I think it would be easy for me to kind of coast the rest of the way to the finish line and enjoy living in the joy of past success, but what a terrible waste that would be. I attended a pastor’s conference last year and heard a speaker say that the most fruitful years for a pastor’s ministry are in his 60’s! It seems appalling to me that I would even consider slowing down in one of the most productive times of life. It would be like a football team that makes it to the red zone, 20 yards away from a touchdown, but always manages to fail in scoring.
All through the Bible we find passages that challenge us to invest in those who will come behind us—even if we are not related to those who will benefit from our investment! This is a real legacy of love. King David demonstrated his desire to invest in the next generation in 1 Chronicles 22. He knew he would not be building a temple in Jerusalem. That would be the task of his son, Solomon. But David wanted to invest in the lives of those who would come behind him, so he began to set aside materials in his treasury that would later be used to construct one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—Solomon’s Temple. In a sense, David was building a bridge that he would never cross. He was planting a shade tree that he would never sit under.
Raising up champions for Christ requires that we have a great dream for the next generation to succeed. As we envision their potential in the work of the kingdom, we are motivated to give of ourselves. Self-centered living seems small and unworthy of our time, talents and treasures. Such a dream, we know, honors the Lord God. We never want to stop dreaming great things for God for we know His work will outlive us. Our greatest epitaphs will be written upon the hearts of those who will carry on the work when we go on to heaven.
Raising up spiritual champions requires a spirit of humility. The Apostle Paul had such a spirit when he said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” A true servant is most blessed when the work flourishes after he is gone. Such humility knows the need to partner with others with the same heart. It is amazing what can be done if we don’t care who gets the credit.
Raising up future champions for Christ requires a new sense of priority. It is always wise to stop from time to time to re-evaluate what or to whom we give ourselves. Sure, we could focus on “seeing the world” or “retiring in comfort,” but how is that any different than the man who built more silos to house his bumper crop, so he could be at ease. That’s not success. The wonderful reality is that after we breathe our last, our influence really can live on in the lives of others.
On a personal level, as I consider how I want to invest my 60’s, I realize that there is no better way to devote my ministerial time than in raising up young champions for Christ. I am so thankful for those who have invested in me. I would not be where I am today without those faithful teachers, deacons and pastors who loved me and saw potential in me. By their example and their ministry, they helped me to learn what it means to be a committed follower of Christ. I find that I want to be that kind of pastor and I want to be a part of that kind of church.