Guardian of the Flame

April 9, 2019

I remember when the world was gearing up for the Olympic Games in 1996. Our family was on vacation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The torch came through that vacation spot. It was a thrill to be among the crowds of people lining the streets and cheering the runner who came through, lifting the torch high. This custom has a long history. Leading up to each of the Olympic Games, a long relay of runners carrying torches transports a flame from Olympia, Greece, to the cauldron at the site of the games. Those who are given the honor of carrying a torch from one destination to another are often referred to as “Guardians of the Flame.” Their responsibility is to ensure the flame remains lit and is passed on to the next runner who will do the same until the fire reaches its destination.

Did you know that you are a guardian of the flame of faith? You are called to run your race, keep faith ablaze, and pass the baton of faith to the next generation. David prayed, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:18). Paul instructed, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

How do we pass the torch of faith?

Make Faith Your Personal Legacy: “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty works.” Psalm 145:4

You can’t pass on what you don’t possess. You need a firm grip on your faith and an intentional effort to place it right in the hand of the next generation. Your efforts to develop your spiritual strength greatly impact younger Christians who are watching you. They can be inspired, see faith in motion, and victory in you. They are watching how you think, how you speak, and how you act. Your lifestyle is a message—a baton—waiting to be passed to a younger generation.

Too many people hand down hatred, unforgiveness, and poor relationship skills to the next generation. You’re either going pass the world’s thinking to your children and younger generations, or you’re going to give them God’s thinking. One brings a curse and death, and the other brings life and blessing. You can turn it around and change future generations and have a family of victory.

The Bible tells us we are to talk about the goodness of God all the time. We must speak good words about God. We should never let young people hear unbelief come out of our mouths. The Word of God says, “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). We train them by the way we live. Talk about miracles. If you can’t think of a miracle in your life, think of a miracle in the Word of God where God came through in impossible circumstances. God is the King of the impossible. Show them how to use their authority. They need you.

Become a Spiritual Parent:“In Christ Jesus I became your father . . .” 1 Corinthians 4:15

We have all kinds of role models in the form of actors and professional athletes, but following the example of anyone who does not follow God will only end in disappointment. Our young people need models, strong adults who are willing to come alongside them and help them grow spiritually.

Spiritual parents nourish, protect, model right thinking, speaking, and living. They encourage younger people to build their faith and stay away from sin. They are strength in a wavering world, always ready to point the next generation to God and help them stay on the right path.
That’s what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 4:14-16, when he referred to himself as a spiritual father. “I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me” (NIV).

A spiritual parent’s responsibility is deeper than simply instructing. It is mentoring on a personal level, guiding and encouraging along the way. Paul was a teacher and preacher, and a spiritual parent. He didn’t just tell “his children” where they went wrong, he made an effort to help them grow up and mature spiritually and live in victory.

You have that same calling. Don’t underestimate it. Seek the Lord for guidance on how to fulfill this sacred calling, and pass the baton of faith to the next generation.

As the body of Christ, we need to honor those with experience, embrace them and respect what they have to say. This is for men and women both. A woman who lives a godly life and follows the Word of God is called to be a spiritual mother, a man to be a spiritual father. That’s the danger of churches that focus only on certain age groups—focusing only on younger generations. A church is a family. We need all age groups. Every generation needs and desires the guidance of those who have gone before them. Don’t hesitate to take your place and become a spiritual parent. The body of Christ needs you.

At a game park, African rangers were dealing with the overpopulation of elephants. They believed the solution that would work was to shoot all the older male elephants to reduce the population, which they did. Within a few months, they were astounded to discover they had created a dysfunctional herd. The juvenile beasts developed radical changes in their behaviors. They began killing rhinos and gazelles—something unheard of in previous generations. In addition, the younger elephants poisoned themselves by eating wrong foods, and began rampaging through towns, where eventually they had to be shot. After watching the decline of the herd, the rangers concluded that the negative effects were the result of killing off the role models—the herd’s mentors. These older bulls had passed on their experience to the younger members of the herd. They had shown them traditional migratory routes, taught them what to eat, and kept behavior in line. They created stability and ensured the success of the next generation.

That’s a miniature picture of what will happen if we don’t model godly behavior and pass on the baton of faith to the next generation. You and I can keep the flame of faith ablaze when we make faith our legacy and embrace our calling to become spiritual fathers or mothers. That is how to pass the baton of faith to the next generation. It’s vital! It starts now!