Passing the Baton

September 13, 2023 | Rob Bloss

“You have heard me teach many things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others.” — 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT)

I took a break from playing baseball my senior year in High School and ran track. I ran the mile and the 4x400 relay. Track is generally considered an individual sport except for the relays. It takes a team of four runners to move a baton around the track and across the finish line. Each runner doing their part, each handing the baton quickly and cleanly to the next.

To finish the race, you must pass the baton, and you must put your trust in those who will run after you to carry the baton across the finish line.

Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus handed the baton to his disciples. He gave them a race to run, a mission to complete. Just as important as running a good race was making sure that they passed the baton to those who came after them. As Timothy, for example, received the baton from Paul, he understood it was his job to look for others to whom he would pass it. Over the centuries this baton has been passed down from generation to generation of faithful followers of Jesus.

The great truths of the Bible, the truth of the gospel, is to be received and shared. But Jesus taught his disciples many things, many truths for living the Christian life well. I have to wonder, “What am I handing off to those who come after me? What kind of legacy am I leaving?”

I’m at the age and stage as a pastor, parent, and grandparent where I’m thinking more about legacy — about what I’ll leave behind. Proverbs 13:22 says that “Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren." I want to leave something for the generations that come after me. And I’m not really talking about money or monuments!

I made a quick list of 10 things I hope to pass along to my family, friends, co-workers, and those I’m called to serve.

#1) Joy in the midst of difficulty. 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Perseverance is an important Christian trait. Life is hard, but our hope isn’t in this world. I’ve been through some tough stuff...but I got through it. Jesus got me through it. He cares and He’s in control. I want to pass that kind of deep, confident assurance — that kind of joy — along.

#2) Receiving and giving grace. 

“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care” (1 Corinthians 3:10).

Being on the receiving end of undeserved grace and mercy makes it easier to pass it on to others. We don’t deserve it, but we desperately need it — first from God and then from each other as an overflow of what we have received.

#3) Encouraging and inspiring others towards greatness. 

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).

It’s not hard to bring people down — a discouraging word, a disapproving look, or disrespectful actions. I want to encourage those around me, those who will come after me, to not settle for less than God’s best for their lives.

#4) Giving my time, treasures, and energy for kingdom work. 

“Since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you — see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7).

Our legacy is bolstered when we live unhindered by selfish ambition or hoarding earthly treasures for ourselves. Even when no one is looking, I want to be pouring out my life in service to God and others.

#5) Modeling forgiveness

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

I’ll state the obvious, it’s much easier to talk and think about forgiving others than doing it. At least it is for me. But when I look in the mirror and see how much I have been forgiven, it changes my perspective and my heart. I don’t want to burn bridges and hold grudges.

#6) Unconditional love. 

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). 

Many of us grow up believing that people love us when we do something worthy of their affection. I did. But God has called us to love unconditionally as He has loved us. Love is powerful! Love is a choice and an action. May they know we are Christians by our love.

#7) Hearing and doing God’s word. 

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). 

I would rather leave a legacy of doing God’s word than just sitting around accruing knowledge about it. I want to be better at learning and living what I preach than preaching.

#8) Doing good and productive work. 

“Their work will be shown for what it is because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:13). 

I’ve gained much satisfaction from giving my best in the work God has given me to do. It isn’t always easy and sometimes I’m tempted to quit, but I am committed to work with all my being as to the Lord.

#9) Leading and discipling people to Christ. 

“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). 

It’s easy to take for granted the amazing gift of salvation. Yet every time I share the gospel and witness a transformed life, I’m more determined to reach out to the lost. I feel like I have some personal obstacles that I’m praying for God to help me overcome. I’m asking for new doors of opportunity in this season. Both as a personal witness and an equipper of others, I hope there are people in heaven because God worked through me.

#10) Looking towards my heavenly home. 

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). 

If there was only one legacy I could leave, it would be the hope I have in Christ for eternal life. I want to live every day as if it were my last day, asking what really matters and lasts. The answer: nothing, except what I do in and for the name of Jesus.

Everyone leaves a legacy whether they plan to or not. Everything we say or do leaves the imprint of our lives on those around us. What are you passing along to the next generation? What kind of legacy are you leaving – what kind do you want to leave?