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Passing the Baton

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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“At bottom, Grant’s problem with [President Chester] Arthur, as with [President James] Garfield, was that he couldn’t relinquish his old hold on Washington or accept his diminished authority. The man who had felt so powerless in his early years had acquired a taste for power and refused to quit the high-stakes game of politics.” – Ron Chernow, GRANT

What did John Dingell, Robert Byrd, Carl Hayden, Daniel Inouye, Jamie Whitten, John Conyers, and Carl Vinson all have in common? If you guessed they were all members of Congress, you’d be right. And if you said that they were all affiliated with the Democrat Party, you would also be correct.

However, the point I want to make is that these seven men all served in either the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, or both for more than 50 years. That’s right; they each held onto the reins of power for over a half century.

Why would men like Dingell and Byrd continue to serve as senators when they were so frail and incapacitated that their colleagues had to wheel them through the halls of Congress? And why would Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina not step down until after his 100th birthday?

The simple answer is that these men had become so used to being in power – and to its many trappings – that they refused to let go. That’s why, of the seven men listed above, two died in office and one resigned in disgrace.

Sometimes, it is just as hard to “pass the torch” in churches and other Christian ministries as it is in business and politics. Those in positions of authority often have a difficult time letting go, regardless the setting.

Moses handled this transition of power extremely well, as did David. Both men mentored their successors – Moses, his protégé Joshua; and David, his son Solomon. That’s why Joshua and Solomon “hit the ground running.”

If you are in a responsible position, ask God to help you choose your eventual successor. Then train him or her as best you can so that when it’s time to pass the baton, it doesn’t fall to the ground.

“Then Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them: ‘I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I can no longer go out and come in.’” Deuteronomy 31:1-2a (NKJV)

- Rev. Dale M. Glading, President

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