01132016_JenniferSchmidt_PassTheBaton

Shock and devastation erupted. The dreaded sound, which no relay runner wants to hear, permeated across the stadium.

Ping. Ping. Ping.

Four of the fastest runners in the world watched hope roll down the track.

After an upset in the 2004 Athens Olympics, followers picked this next US Olympic team to be a shoe-in for the 4 x 100m relay gold medal.

Faster, stronger: a new and improved, unbeatable team created anticipation, yet in one small handoff, this claim fell short.

In a sport that’s typically about the individual runner and their own times, a relay race demands collaboration, connection, and community.

The relay is about the baton, not the runner, so individual agendas must be put aside. But again, in 2008’s Beijing Olympics, a small stick dropped in a handoff thwarted years of dreams.

Had the relay teams not learned their lesson from the prior Olympics? Fingers pointed. Athletes and coaches alike took responsibility, but when questioned as to why something that appears so easy, can be so difficult, many athletes attested to their lack of effort in prioritizing the critical practice of the handoff.

The following year, there was a focused, intentional effort to practice the passing of the baton.

A simple stick passed forward, again and again, until it was instinctual.

I’ve thought about my own drops lately.

While I’ve been so focused on the fundamentals of just making it through my day to day (and trust me, it’s important to remind ourselves that we all have those kind of days weeks), I’ve lost the balance necessary to think about the critical handoffs.

“Without a vision, the people perish.” {Proverbs 29:18}

That is what I’m leaning into this year: re-claiming my vision of being intentional in my passing of the baton and inviting friends along for the race.

Throughout Scripture, we see examples of how the faithfulness of a generation is tested, not just by their own faithfulness, but by the faithfulness of the following generation. In my parenting (and those who are in my sphere of influence), I remind myself that I am not just mothering my own children, but my choices and decisions ultimately affect my children’s children and their children. Mentoring and mothering with a kingdom purpose in mind spans generations.

Yet, biblical history also reveals that a legacy can be lost in one generation, so I’m convicted and compelled to ask myself tough questions, not just about my own children, but those whose lives intersect with mine as well.

  • Who is pouring into them and for what purpose?
  • How am I passing the baton of faithfulness to the generations of tomorrow?
  • Do they share an unconditional love for those different from them? Am I modeling the same?
  • Am I equipping those around me in sound doctrine, apologetics, and a heart-knowledge that points back to His perfect character?
  • Am I raising or influencing culture changers that are willing to stand up for biblical truth in a society that only preaches tolerance amidst moral decline?

2016 marks major transitions for our family as two of our sons graduate: our eldest from college and our third from high school. We will be experiencing “passing of the baton” moments, and as you can imagine, those questions swirl continually.

The reality is that someone is training this next generation, but who? Too often it’s conflicting voices that whisper. I want it to be me. I hope it will be you too. 

We are called to pass the baton by equipping the next generation of believers. We have such life-giving opportunities to mentor and lead the generations preceding us through giving of our time, our love, and by sharing our story, our mess, which in turn makes our grace message that much more powerful.

In this life race, there are moments when it feels overwhelmingly difficult — being intentional in passing the baton too daunting. But even in the relay race, a baton drop doesn’t automatically disqualify the team. If you quit, then you’re done, but if you pick up that stick and press on, you will finish the race.

I’m often the twirler whose baton crashes in front of the crowds. I’m so thankful the Lord doesn’t require perfection. In those most challenging moments, we are doing Holy work. I don’t have what it takes to stay the course, but through His infinite mercy, He does. I can’t think of a better coach to gently nudge me back on the track and love me along the way.

How about you? Will you join me in Passing the Baton and forging ahead with this legacy work? 

“His mercies are new every morning.” {Lamentations 3:22-23}

by Jen Schmidt of Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, co-founder of the Becoming Conference

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Jen,
    The best answer I can give is, “I’m trying.” By helping to raise up a generation of children in the Middle East to love Christ is my way of passing the baton that says, “Love others the way you love yourself.” Whether it’s here of there…our precious innocents NEED to hear this message while they are young. It is up to us to train up the next generation and the one after that as well. I love the image of focus on the passing of the baton. Too much is at stake if we drop it…
    Blessings and thanks for a thought provoking post,
    Bev

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam.com@

      You are definitely passing the baton and what a blessing those children are to be loved by you. :)

      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        Thanks Jen xx

  • http://www.buildinglifeslibrary.wordpress.com Amy M

    Such good words. I am at the other end of parenting, dealing with diapers and teething. Even there, the awesome responsibility of training and raising up the next generation strikes me. I see how much they have to learn, and what a short period of time we as believers have to teach it. Yet I know God is faithful, and I am thankful he has placed good teachers in my life who have been through these seasons of parenting.

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam.com@

      How wonderful that you have others journeying along besides you. It makes all the difference when we reach those patches where we just don’t know what to do next. :) xoxo

  • Amy

    What a powerful reminder. I will always think of the baton now in a new way.

    • jen @ beautyandbedlam.com@

      Yes, it’s a powerful mental image that I want to remember.

  • Penny

    Jen,

    Your message took me back to the time when my relay team came in second place. My Coach was determined it was because I didn’t run fast enough. I admit it was a burden to carry for awhile but it also helped me. I know I need to stay focused on the Coach that really matters. He who is rooting for me, does not lay blame and catches me when I fall. Yes I’ll pass the baton on, hopefully I don’t drop it.

    Thank-you for sharing your inspiration with us today…..

    Happy New Year!

    Penny

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam.com@

      Isn’t it something how certain memories like that come back? Yes, so thankful for the coach who never gives up on us. xoxox

  • http://lovellegerthmyers.com/ Lovelle Gerth- Myers

    Jennifer,
    This is such a powerful reminder of the importance of ministering to our youth. If we don’t teach them then who will? If they aren’t influenced by us then what other things might they be influenced by that could really hurt them in life and start vicious cycles.

    I loved this!

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam.com

      Exactly, Lovelle!! And this reminder is true not just for our youth, but new believers as well. It’s so easy to give milk, but never go deep with the meat and truth. :) oxox

  • Katie Landers

    Thank you Dawn for these powerful words. I currently attend a multi-generational church and we have felt lately the pull to share our stories and encourage and equip each passing generation because there is no greater gift. I am chewing on your words and how I, as a parent and a part of the body, pass the baton. Thanks again!

  • HeartsHomeward

    Jen, What a well written post! It makes me think about how we often pass batons – silently and unintentionally through our example. Sometimes those examples are good (thank God) but sometimes not-so-much-so. As always, Jesus calls us to be like Him. Paul says what we learned and saw in him – do. Do. We need to live from our relationship with Jesus so that the batons we pass are the ones we want carried. Whether we be like a Marcus Aurelius (a noble leader) who goes on to have one of the most corrupt leaders ever as a son, isn’t our business. Our business is our leg of the race and how we hand off the batons we have been given. You have sparked trains of thought for me. I love that. Gems. Thank you!