The Key verse for this discussion is John 3:30,
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Could it be that Decrease is the New Increase?
Living a “Motivated life” can be tricky. On one hand, you get the feeling, when you look at your age, or in the mirror, or at the chapter challenge the Holy Spirit is bringing to you, that you’re in “John the Baptist” mode… on the road to decrease, while on the other hand you feel that you’re at the threshold of a new beginning.
Social norms say that you should be thinking of retirement, and yet you feel that you have lots to give and lives to challenge. Of course, you are not deft; you know you cannot go on forever, but today you would agree that society is changing so fast that it is like you’ve taken up residence in a wind tunnel. You know that the work you have built could be even better and you’re wise enough to realize that you may not be the man to take it to the next level.
You recognize that you have a son in the gospel… primed, full of wisdom and with the right heart to take it all forward and to the fulfilment of your own goals. He will do things differently, but you did things differently than your fathers in the Lord; so what’s the problem? Often I am riding with a friend in a third-world nation and find the danger really concerns me. I look over at the driver and think, “he has been driving a very long time and is still alive. We will likely make it to our destination.” So I then close my eyes for a few minutes, just as self-discipline. This way I am able to remind myself that although I am not driving, I will survive. Just let the young man drive, and close your eyes, pastor.
The big question keeps coming up, as you ask yourself: “Are you willing to take a step up, so that you become a grandfather, instead of just a father? Your thoughts go to: “You’ve been a father for a very long time and that has been fun; but how good it sounds to actually admit to yourself, “I am a grandfather”. The challenge is you have to release yourself to this new chapter, rather than fight it, or oppose the transition. Guard against being in denial about your “life chapter”, and embrace all the options you are able to enjoy.
Now lets talk about the differences in store for you when you move from filling a “father’s shoes” to stepping up and into the roll of being a “grandfather”. You say, “that sounds so old.” Let’s face it, God has new and delightful doors to open up to you if you will admit to who you have become. The reality is that, if you do not move forward and upward, then you just may be the one who jeopardizes your own legacy. What is your responsibility, as the key leader? You are to multiply leaders, inspire new life and vision, and all this realizing that only leaders can produce leaders.
If you are to affirm your sons, then it can be done better as a grandfather, which is a non-threatening roll. It is time to step up from being a father; become a grandfather and let a new life for you and your son in the gospel begin. This way he will achieve his own maturity… then step back, far back and let him take the lead.
In reading 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT) Paul wrote, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”
Notice that Paul is referring to four different generations:
- Paul (the one writing)
- Timothy (Paul’s son in the Gospel)
- Timothy’s disciples (Faithful Men)
If you recall your own mentor, then it is possible to see five generations from your own ministry.
I hope you have been thinking along these lines. I trust you have realized your need to have a Timothy and that you have accepted the one God brought to you.
The challenge is simply this: If you do not become a loving grandfather, then after you pass the baton to your successor; you must uproot your household, and move far away, or you will be considered a threat to the stability of the work. Get proficient at tossing the keys to your son in the gospel. Let him drive, and you just take in the view. If you allow the grace you have talked about to take a greater place in your life, then you just may be able to stay in your city, be with your family, and remain a part of the congregation. But if you are “testy” then your days are numbered.
The body language of grandfathers is to stand back and enjoy enabling their sons to become the fathers. Grandfathers insist that their sons (the fathers) take the lead. One of the most difficult challenges, I have seen is when grandfathers compete with their sons for the prestige, the titles, the money and the limelight. They feel that no one can do it like they can. However, remember this principle: “Sons do grow up.”
These fathers have lived full lives, and now enjoy great respect as loved and respected leaders, but do not know how to spend the currency of “the grandfather”.
As I get older I have less living mentors; but the valuable lessons they taught me will always be with me. The few living mentors I have left are great-grandfathers now.
Now that’s enough about you. Lets talk about your son in the gospel. Is he married? Is he a father yet? How old are his children? Please do not tell me that you have kept him in the roll of “son”, and he is about to become a grandfather. What is wrong with this picture? If your son is soon to be a grandfather, then what does that make you? … great- grandfather!
Would you agree with me now that being a grandfather doesn’t sound so bad?