Like relay runners on a team, each generation has it’s opportunity to run with abandon the race set before them and then, when the time comes, to hand the baton to the next group of runners gently and skillfully. It is essential to the success of the team that the handoff be handled well – in such a way as to assure the baton doesn’t end up on the ground. Our best efforts and all our accomplishments mean little if we fail to connect with the next generation. But if we lovingly and skillfully hand off the charge to the next runner – without holding on too long or quitting the sprint prematurely or dropping the baton shy of it’s intended destination – then the exchange and the succession can appear seamless – even artfully effortless – to the untrained eye.
We all have a role or part to perform, a race to run, but if we fail to receive and hold onto lessons from previous generations, or neglect to pass them on to the next – if we shirk our responsibility to connect with the runner up ahead, then our failure will hurt the whole team. However, when we do our part and span our brief moment of exertion producing what we can with passion and grace, the results will not only bring joy and delight to each of us individually – and a sense of pride that we have run our laps well – we will also be contributing to something much greater than ourselves – a legacy of playing it forward in life even when it means sacrificing what we want for ourselves, to contribute to the greater good of all.
If our goal is to benefit our children and our children’s children by the way we live, then we must ask God to inspire us to run our own personal race in such a way that we pay tribute to those who came before us, and also invest in and inspire the next generation without stealing their moment in the sun.
Like an Olympic relay team – our multigenerational family is greater than the sum of its parts. Thank you, mom and dad, for passing the baton in a manner that inspired not only me but your grandkids as well to do their best. Thank you also for building a bridge of love with girders of self-sacrifice. A bridge over which many future runners will pass – future musicians, and doctors, and artists, and writers, and counselors, and ministers, and workers of all shapes and sizes. May our children and grandchildren say that we fought the good fight and ran the race with the best we could give – striving not only to win, but to pass the baton of love, through a life well lived, to all future generations.
Are you running you race for yourself only – or have you accepted the challenge to be all you can be until you pass off the baton, when the time comes, with humility and grace – knowing God will be pleased that you gave Him and your family and friends, as well as the unborn generations to come, your very best?
Are you prepared to pass the baton? May the Holy Spirit breathe life into your race, every step of the way, so that you cross your finish line at the very moment that you release the baton and impart a word of wisdom to the child, student, coworker, friend or the unknown follower up ahead.