In 2 Timothy 2:2, the Apostle Paul instructs his protégé Timothy: "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." These words set forth an effective plan for spreading the Gospel and investing meaningfully in the lives of others. For this devotional, our focus is on the word "commit to." It means "to entrust, to commit to one's charge." A helpful picture of this action is the relay race where the one currently carrying the baton commits that baton to someone else who is reliable, who will, in turn, be able to hand it on to someone else.
As I was studying this text afresh recently, I came across a resource that explained reasons that professionals have identified for what they call "baton drops." What goes wrong that causes a costly baton drop. I was amazed to find principles that can carry over in our discipleship efforts to pass our faith on to those around us and future generations. Here they are:
1. The runners are strangers to one another. Even though these professional athletes have run in plenty of races before, in professional relays, it is common for them to be running with people they've never run with before. They don't know each other's moves, body language, and this lack of chemistry creates problems for successfully handing over the baton.
There's a principle here for us as believers. It is common for people to come to church anonymously and leave and never build strong connections. We may attend worship together, and even sit around in a circle and read a Sunday School quarterly together, but we are not doing life together. We haven't let each other "in." This hinders the successful passing on of our faith.
2. They are running at warp speed. The idea here is that professional relays happen at a speed where there is virtually no margin for error. The slightest mistake will result in a dropped baton.
As Christians, we are redeeming the time, making the most of each moment. It is the last hour, and we do not know the day or time that the Lord will return. We don't know how much time we have. We are traveling this journey with an urgency. The margin for error is extremely small here as well. Missteps often result in a dropped baton.
3. They are not going at the same pace. If the one carrying the baton is travelling slower than the one taking off to receive the baton, the likelihood of the new guy missing the baton is greater. The same is true of the one carrying the baton is running faster. Ideally, they are going at the same pace for a smooth transition.
This is where it is helpful to do life together. To walk with one another and bear one another's burdens. To learn together the same principles and ideas, to guide one another patiently into the truth of God's Word - and not to let the busyness of life interfere with the importance of successful entrusting of our faith to others.
As you think about your personal commitment to investing in others, evaluate your approaches and see if some of these pitfalls are hindering your ability to pass on the baton of faith successfully.