Our Toolkit for Mission Transition

I’d like to ask you to mark your calendars. An important season of change has arrived for the World Mission Prayer League. On Sunday, October 8, 2023, Kyle Scott will be installed as our new Executive Director. (You’re invited to attend! We’ll share more in future issues of TIP.) In the months leading up to that day, I will be working with Kyle and others to “pass the baton” of leadership into his capable hands. For this, you are invited to pray! There are some important tools that we’ll need as we navigate this momentous change.

We human beings aren’t always especially comfortable with changes. Nonetheless, our lives are filled with them. We learn to embrace and even celebrate them. We find that transitions are simply a natural part of the way God created us. They are also part of his – and our – mission! Ever since mankind’s fall into sin, God has been on a mission to transition us from darkness to light (Colossians 1:13; Acts 26:18), from guilt to forgiveness, from bondage to freedom (John 8:34-36). The gospel that we proclaim changes lives, communities, and cultures. Mission is transition!

Throughout Scripture we find stories of God transitioning his people. Many of those stories display God’s goodness and intentionality in leadership changes. Think of Jesus to his disciples, David to Solomon, Moses to Joshua. In each of these accounts, we discover that God is in charge of such transitions. He directs the leaders he has chosen to plan for and faithfully entrust leadership to their successors. For this task, God has given his people some important tools. As leaders in Biblical times used these tools, so now must Kyle and I, and all those engaged in this time of “mission transition” in WMPL. Please pray that God will help us use these faithfully and well:

Trust. Leaders in transition need to know and fully rely on the certainty that God is lovingly present
and powerfully in charge. Moses displayed such assurance when he summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all of Israel, “Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their ancestors… It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8 NRS1) Similarly, Jesus offered these final words to his disciples: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NRS)

Prayer. Ministry leaders passing on their responsibilities can be immensely thankful for the gift of coming to God in prayer, honoring him above all, and submitting to his care and provision those who take on the mantle of leadership. Jesus himself prayed to his Father for the band of disciples who would continue his Kingdom work after his departure, seeking their future protection and unity. (John 17) Upon handing leadership over to his son Solomon, David prayed for him and for all the people he would lead. He lauded the greatness, sovereignty, and generosity of God, and asked him to always direct their hearts toward him and his purposes.
(1 Chronicles 29:10-19)

Scripture. As Joshua took over from Moses, God knew that he would need to daily find his life and direction in the same words Moses had received and written down. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth,” he told him, “but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8) Jesus’ prayer for his disciples and all those who would come after them was that God would “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) As is true for all Christian leaders, we will need to be thoroughly soaked in God’s Word during this transition!

Grace. Times of change can create stress, tension, and misunderstandings. For these we have the best tool of all: God’s grace given to and modeled for us by our forgiving Savior, who instructed his disciples at the Last Supper, “As I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34) Just as the Lord is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6), so shall we be. Moses, before his departure, spoke blessing over those he had led, reminding them of God’s love for them, and saying, “Happy are you, O Israel!” (Deuteronomy 33:29) I believe that by God’s grace we also will be happy with our mission transition, which I trust will be a blessing for us and for those we are called to serve.

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