“Leadership is more like a baton than a trophy. You keep a trophy, but you hand off a baton.” ~ Bruce Miller
It happened during the 2012 Summer Olympics and it will probably happen in the next one as well. In the 4×100 relay, it’s not only about how well you run your portion of the race, it’s also about successfully handing off the baton to the next runner. If you drop the baton during the handoff, it doesn’t matter how well you ran your race. It’s very simple, if you drop the baton, you are disqualified.
There are some wonderful leadership lessons from the life of Moses. One of them is how well he handed off the baton to Joshua at the end of his race. Even though Moses couldn’t enter the Promised Land because of God’s judgment, Moses was very successful in preparing the next generation of leaders to carry the baton. At the end of Joshua’s race however, even though he ran extremely well, the baton was dropped in the handoff.
Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. They buried him in the land he had been allocated…After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:8-10 NLT)
As a Christian leader, you recognize that God’s plan is much bigger than the span of your life and the accomplishments you achieve. We are in a relay race and our leg of the race falls between the generation before us and the generation after us. We need to run our leg well. Even if your start was a little shaky, you have to stay focused and finish well. The most important thing is making a good handoff at the end of your leg.
As the leader, the buck stops with you. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, it’s your responsibility to pass the baton well. In a relay race, they have what’s called the “exchange zone”. The exchange zone is 20 meters long and is preceded by a 10-meter acceleration zone. The person receiving the baton begins running in the acceleration zone but the baton can only be passed within the exchange zone. This requires very intentional focus and timing.
This relay race illustration has great lessons for passing the baton well as a Christian leader. Did you notice nobody stops when the exchange is made? The exchange is made with both runners going at full speed. Who do you have ready to run in the acceleration zone? Will they be up to speed by the time you hand them the baton?
Let me encourage you today to consider your handoff to the next generation of leaders in your organization. Just like in a relay race, they have to be in position and ready to go. Stay focused, be intentional and don’t drop the baton!