It was difficult to leave the church building last Sunday afternoon without a smile on your face. We had nine outstanding young men lead our worship and each was well prepared and did a fantastic job, to the glory of God. It was a former elder of this congregation, nearly 90 years of age, who summed up best what had just taken place. “None of us is going to live forever, we better be preparing for the future, today.” We must always be thinking about the generations that are coming – those who will be leading the church for which Jesus died in the future – as long as the Lord is willing.
Isn’t this the pattern we see playing out in Scripture over time? Great men and women who did God’s work heartily, knowing they were serving the Lord and not men (Colossians 3:23-24). However, each understood they were not going to live forever. Consider two examples:
Moses was great, but he was replaceable.
This was the leader of God’s people for 40 years. He led them out of captivity and through the wilderness. It was this great man who delivered God’s law to His people. In Exodus 33:11, the Bible says the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Could a servant of God who did all these wonderful and amazing things for God be replaced? God spoke to Joshua, “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people…” (Joshua 1:2). Moses was great, but he was replaceable. He met the appointment of all men (Hebrews 9:27).
Paul was great, but he was replaceable.
Who was a greater asset to the early church than Paul? If you read his letters to congregations in the New Testament, you know that he was largely responsible for their existence and he did all he could to keep them on the narrow road. Second Corinthians 11:22-28 gives us a glimpse of his suffering. The Lord told Ananias in Acts 9:15 that, “He was a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” He lived faithfully to the Lord, and we know this from some of his final words to Timothy – 2 Timothy 4:7 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” But, he was replaced by men like Timothy and Titus (2 Timothy 2:2). He was great, but replaceable.
Moses and Paul were great men, but they were just men, and others came along who took their place. When you are gone, the world will not fall apart – your business will probably continue, you will be missed, but life goes on – God designed it that way.
As a Christian, are you grooming anyone to take your place – and would it be good if those who took your place were like you in your work ethic? Or would the church die if those who took your place were like you because nothing would get done? It begins with loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and leading by example. Let us be serious about the work we are privileged to do for our great God and be constantly thinking about and training those who will one day serve as our replacement.