When I was in high school, I enjoyed spending spring afternoons at my brother’s track meets. He ran several individual events, but I especially liked watching his relay team.
It made me think. In a relay race, what typically happens to teammates who have already handed off the baton? They stop running. They move off the track and watch the rest of the race from the sidelines. See the problem? That is not the picture presented to us in the Bible. As followers of Christ, we are each called to finish the race.
Dr. Stecker puts it this way. The church has inadvertently told seniors adults to pass the baton, and as a result, we have turned a great resource into spectators in the most important race in history.
It’s true. Many older adults, including those who are still active, have moved to the sideline. They feel as though they’ve done their part and now they just want to rest on their spiritual laurels. They fail to understand that younger generations need to see them finish the race well.
A retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. Stecker believes that mature adults have a special calling to help younger generations stand against the pressures of a confusing culture. If seniors walk away from the race too soon, they will abandon vulnerable young people who desperately need godly role models in their lives. Spiritual continuity among the ages is achieved only when all generations are valued and expected to contribute.
No doubt, the natural process of aging will likely change how a person is able to engage in ministry, but the point is to stay engaged. For those unable to climb onto a roof to do repairs on an intergenerational mission trip, there are meals to be prepared and tools to be organized. For those who have grown frail, there will always be a need for active prayer partners and encouragers.
Finishing the race is not about demanding that things at church be done the way they’ve always been done. It is not about grabbing power from younger generations. It is about not abdicating responsibility even as you grow old.
We are called to pass along the wisdom of lessons learned. We are challenged to be spiritual mentors and godly influences on younger generations. Don’t make the mistake of handing off the baton and thinking, “I’m finished.” Your race is not over until it’s over.