Succession

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 57; 145, 1 Kings 1:(1-4) 5-31, Acts 26:1-23, Mark 13:14-27


Succession planning, long a concern of dynastic governments, has been adopted by business as well. No matter how successful someone is, they can’t lead forever. Term limits, promotions, retirement – many factors drive the continual demand for new leadership. If an enterprise has a clear vision of its mission, succession planning is easier to tackle. If its mission is undefined or murky, finding solid candidates for future leadership roles can be especially challenging.

When King David grew old and frail, his son Adonijah began a popular campaign to be the next king. David didn’t know about it, but it angered his wife Bathsheba, who reminded him of his promise to make their son Solomon his successor. Did that promise mean anything, she demanded to know, or was Adonijah for all intents and purposes already king? David affirmed in front of witnesses that Solomon was his choice. Had Bathsheba not been on the ball, things could have gone very differently. David had not planned and it had almost slipped from his control.

Adonijah made the same common assumptions as many people in politics or business: it’s my turn, so I should be next. Succession planning isn’t just about bumping up the next obvious choice. The person who demands advancement most loudly isn’t necessarily the most qualified. Nor is seniority a qualification in and of itself. The choice needs to reflect the mission, or the mission itself may flounder. Less obvious choices may need time for coaching and preparation.

Paul was far from the obvious choice to spread the gospel of Christ, yet his persecution of Christians may have given him a singular insight into communicating with people who weren’t inclined – or were outright hostile – to hearing it.

The truth is plans only get us so far, but how we plan can make a big difference. Do our gifts align with our goals? Do our goals align with the gospel? When the right opportunities to serve God come along, will we be prepared to recognize and nurture them? We succeed not by imposing our own plans, but by preparing to embrace God’s plans.


Comfort: God desires only good for you.

Challenge: Try to stay out of the way of God delivering that good.

Prayer: Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. (Psalm 85:8)

Discussion: In what ways do you think you could plan better?

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The Long Game

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 97; 145, Deuteronomy 8:1-10 (or Deuteronomy 18:9-14),  James 1:1-15, Luke 9:18-27


Great coaches do not hang their hopes or reputation on any single game, tournament, or season. They focus on long-term goals for the team and the program. Fans and players who demand short-term results can quickly become disgruntled. No one likes to see their team lose. No player likes to sit the bench, especially a former star in high school, college, or the minors. Despite complaints, good coaches stick to the strategy, put in players who prioritize the needs of the team, and patiently mold a team into its optimal form.

God also plays a long game – the longest. As the Israelites entered the Promised Land after forty years of wandering the wilderness, Moses explained how their trials had prepared them. Their faith was tested, and refined when found lacking. As their endurance was pushed to its limits, they became a people who could face adversity and come out the other side. No matter how much they complained, God forcefully but lovingly stuck to the program for benefits they couldn’t foresee. In the end they learned the problem was not the program, but their ability to accept and live it.

Under the best circumstances, people appreciate great coaches. Under the worst, they replace them with someone who promises more immediate results. Like the golden calf worshipped by the Israelites while Moses was on the mountain, cheap substitutes satisfy the present urge, but fail to build character that sustains the team for the long haul.

Jesus understood the importance of long range planning. When Peter admitted he thought Jesus was the Christ, Jesus told him to keep that information under wraps until all that needed to happen had happened. Events might have unfolded differently if the Jewish authorities had believed Jesus was the messiah – different in ways that could have been easier on him – but he chose to stick with the program.

A good program adapts to the needs of the team, while simultaneously moving each team member closer to the goal. God can work similarly in our lives – if we are open to the program. Let’s come ready to play.

Comfort: Patience is not the same as doing nothing.

Challenge: Write down some long range goals. Pray about and revisit them regularly.

Prayer: God, thank you for your patience and guidance when I wander. Amen.

Discussion: When are you tempted to take shortcuts in life?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!