Passing The Baton

Last night was an epoch in my life, as well as in one of my favorite people’s, Joseph Gilchrist.

I became a Youth Pastor when I was 17 years old. There was no fanfare, no ceremony, no certificate. Simple a job to do and no one else to do it. I’ve read that the best leaders in life are the reluctant ones; and after preparing my first Bible study for a group of teens in Dryden, NY before I was even out of high school – thinking I had just presented everything I knew about the Bible the first night – I was definitely reluctant.

But God is faithful, as well as a rewarded of those who diligently seek him. Sometimes that reward is just enough to prepare your next Bible study. But it certainly extended on into the next 16 years of my life, affording my the opportunity to speak before audiences large and small, to counsel thousands of teens, parents, and other youth pastors, and to travel to nations. It is an honor I will never forget as the call shaped who I am today.

But two years ago, I felt the call changing.

The grace I had experienced previously – the energy, joy, and vision – was ebbing. And that’s when I knew a roll change was upon me.

The easy thing would have been to bail the moment I felt God calling me into a new season. Sadly, without good leadership around us, that’s what we tend to do. And I know far too many people who’ve done that, both as teenagers and as adults. I call it the rip cord mentality. It happens in companies, ministeries, marriages, and friendships. It’s selfish, and extremely destructive.

But anything worth doing is worth doing right. In our circles, we call it carrying the elephant.

It’s heavy.

It’s tiresome.

And sometimes it just plain sucks.

But if you can endure it, the results are incredible and well worth the price of admission.

Last night Joseph Gilchrist took my place. He’s grown up over the last 7 years in our youth ministry, so he knows the DNA; and he’s mentored under me for the last 2 years with the direct intention of replacing me. And that he has. Meanwhile I slide into a new role as Associate Pastor of New Life, supporting Pastor Kirk as his second in charge (a role I have mentored in for a good many years as well because he was willing to carry the elephant).

Josh Finley – lead pastor of Elim Gospel Church in Lima, NY – made the 3 hour drive at my request to surprise Joseph as guest speaker for his installation at 33 Live. He was joined by other surprised guests including Campus Target director Toby Cavanaugh. From start to finish the whole night was powerful, poignant, and set an incredible tone for the rest of Joseph’s ministry.

I couldn’t be more proud of Joseph if he were my own son. And there is a very real aspect to which he is a spiritual son.

Go and do more than I ever was able, Joseph. The call and anointing on your life are uniquely your own. Wear your own armor well and fight the good fight of faith. I’m behind you all the way. ch:





Photo courtesy of: @KaliLynnMusic