I have never run a relay, but I can image that there is a moment of great excitement as athletes reach out and pass the baton. I also imagine that, at that same moment, there is also a sense of fear. What happens if you stumble, drop the baton, or get out of sync? These realities can be avoided with great discipline, practice and communication. One thing is sure: relay runners must be committed to all of these training principles.
At Staff Conference 2014, I experienced both of these feelings of excitement and fear. I sensed it on both sides. From my generation of staff, I sensed excitement for what has been built but a fear of how to hand it over to the next generation. From the “receiving runners”, there was anticipation about how and when the baton will be passed. Be assured the baton will be passed! It is up to both generations of staff to be committed to discipline, practice and communication.
I believe a key element in passing the baton well is being faithful to the commandment to “love one another”. When I think about what love means in this situation, it really involves building trust. It means careful communication between generations. It means beginning to hand the baton over prior to the deadline. If you can imagine a relay race, you know there is a time when both runners are running. This is called the “exchange zone” and it is what makes it possible for the baton to be passed smoothly. I think the exchange zone for us means mentoring and patience from the elders and teach-ability from the younger generation. It means letting go by the “Pauls” and respectfully receiving for the “Timothys”. Relay racers are a team and this is a good picture for us to hold to. It means being about the whole movement and not just my own piece of the pie.
Since I am not a “lifer” in InterVarsity, I do not know all the stories of the joys and sorrows experienced in the past, but I do know that this current generation of leaders should be celebrated and thanked well for their commitment to the whole. This commitment to relationships and walking in the way of Jesus is why there can be great excitement at passing the baton. The runner is not limping and the baton is not broken. The receiving runner has the ability to really fly without encumbrance from the past. Any pain has become a scar and primarily a reminder of what not to do.
In closing, I have three prayers for InterVarsity:
· May the receiving generation grab the baton with great joy and excitement, and with an air of respect and humility. This generation will now be the stewards of this 72-year-old fellowship and this comes with responsibility.
· May any scars become “medals of winning” for the sake of the Kingdom and the university.
· And finally, may we all leave a legacy of passing on and receiving well the gift that God has given us.