Do you ever have one of those moments where you realize just how quickly time passes? Does the Lord ever pop a bubble of overestimated worth that you place on a moment, a movement, or a person?
I am in one of those semi-funks. John Piper just announced he will be stepping down as the Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN, in two years. The elders have announced his successor, who will mentor under John for two years and then, provided congregational affirmation, will step into the full role then. By the way, if you want to know how I think choosing a pastor should look like, I think this the spot on way to do it: preach and labor for a long time in one on place, then pray for the Spirit to raise up an internally trained young man, have everyone affirm him, have a transition period of mentorship and training, and then pass the baton. But, I digress.
Add to that, a few years ago Kent Hughes retired from College Church. Almost two years ago my father in law retired from the presidency of Wheaton College. In the next five years we will see more huge evangelical figures retire from active leadership, grow older, wane, and pass into eternity.
You see, fifteen years ago these men were in their prime. They are heroes to many of my generation of pastors. They seemed so on top of it, never to age, always to lead the charge of gospel advance. But, now they are older, grizzled, still dynamic at the pulpit, more godly then ever, but aging and passing the baton. In each case, an anointed and godly man has replaced them. Their respective organizations go on. Christ is still being preached. Things are growing. It is about the gospel ultimately, not them. That is weird. Life goes on. One day, it will go on after I limp off the platform.
This means that I am getting older. There are going to be less and less heroes to look to. That means that my generation is moving into that position. Most of us will never be that visible, nor should we, but in our local context we are now becoming the silver-backs, the gray haired, the ones the younger ones look to. This is the course of life. Then, my generation will pass, and my sons will take the mantle, the sons of my biology and the sons I have, Lord willing, raised as men who burn with the gospel as church leaders. Wow.
It is a good reminder. God does great things through chosen people. He creates wonderful movements. But, we need to be careful not to worship the people nor the particular culture of those movements – even if we give our lives to them at the time. It is about God. People age and eventually die. Movements will terminate, even if led well and Biblically for long stretches. God will raise up new leaders. God will inspire new movements. That is good.
Friends, time is precious. Live with full resolve to glorify God, today. Worship him. Invest in his anointed leaders and anointed movements, but focus on the whole point: the glory of God in the gospel!
One day, in the new heavens and earth, our resume will matter little. Our lists of accomplishments will not be our boast. Piper will be alongside a no-name Saudi woman who heard the gospel and believed in a Muslim context, next to a Chinese man who died for his faith in a remote village no one has heard of, and we will all be singing our hearts out before the Lamb of God!
Time is precious, but let it go. We get closer to that Throne.