We'd all like to know that when we leave a job that there is someone in the wings with the skills and desire to take over the responsibility. If we care at all about the work that we do, we want to ensure that it will continue to be carried out well when we are no longer there.
I chuckle to think of Jesus' succession plan. He did his job preaching to the people about the redemptive power of God's love. He had a loyal set of followers. But the disciples are presented as being a bit dense sometimes. They followed Jesus, perhaps blindly, without always understanding what he was teaching.
These are the people Jesus left to carry on his job?
Sometimes, the most surprising people rise up to fill a vacuum of leadership.
Peter followed Jesus for years. But he didn't always seem to understand the message. His responses would frequently cause Jesus to have to explain, again, a little more clearly. Jesus even got exasperated, telling Peter to "get behind me, Satan!"
But Peter has a remarkable transformation once Jesus is no longer physically on earth. Peter finally comes into his own. He finds the strength and knowledge to lead. Instead of being the one to ask questions, Peter becomes the one to answer them. It's an amazing and abrupt transformation. Peter goes from denying Jesus at the Temple to standing before the crowd in Jerusalem at Pentecost and saying, "Listen to what I say."
Sometimes, leaders come from where you would least expect. Saul started as a vicious persecutor of the early Christians. He transformed into Paul, a confident leader, who became perhaps the best-known leader of the Christian church.
Behind both men was God's real succession plan: the Holy Spirit.
[Jesus replied,] "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." (Acts 1:7-8a)
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.
The succession plan in action. Jesus has physically left this earth but has left behind a new source of leadership, whenever we’re ready to listen.
I believe the Holy Spirit is always there, waiting to guide and train each new generation of leadership on earth.
The Holy Spirit guided Martin Luther, John Hus, Charles and John Wesley, and other reformation leaders.
The Holy Spirit guided Martin Luther King Jr., Standing Bear, Alice Paul, and other civil rights leaders.
The Holy Spirit leads through Mom Demand Action, Amnesty International, Black Lives Matter, and other activist groups working to make society a safer place for all.
The Holy Spirit works through volunteers at the food pantry, Lutheran Community Services, Family Promise, and other places striving to provide a hand up, not a handout.
Are you listening and ready to be a part of God's succession plan?
- Ann Iona Warner