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Daily Devotional: Monday, May 8 - Nurturing New Leaders

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” — Philippians 3:17

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Good leadership on a team can be pivotal to a successful season. It can help inspire athletes to drive for the best results possible. While we can look at a team and know who the leaders are at a given point in time, what happens when they leave the team or retire? Are the present leaders working now to develop younger players into the leaders of tomorrow?

The University of Oklahoma softball team has several strong leaders, from the coach to student-athlete leaders, who pour into the lives of younger athletes. Because of their leadership, players are not only growing athletically, but their spiritual lives are coming alive and growing too. The result has also been impressive for their softball program, which has been recognized as one of the premier college softball programs in the nation for many years.

Out in nature, honeybees and bumblebees used to be plentiful, but now it’s necessary for beekeepers to grow and develop the bee population. So farmers are now renting beehives to sit beside growing produce, like watermelon, to to aid the pollination process so that we’ll still get that sweet, juicy treat on a hot summer day. It’s important to pass on this acquired wisdom to the younger farming generations, so they may be successful in their growing efforts too. And in turn, the bee population will have a better opportunity to grow and thrive. It’s all about nurturing and cultivating the next round of leadership.

As the elder members of family farms work hard to instill work ethic and motivate younger generations to continue providing food for years to come, it’s also vital for churches to be diligent in developing young leaders to keep churches healthy and reproducing. Though youth are immature by nature, and don’t yet know how to lead, mature and responsible leaders will take the time to pour their knowledge and wisdom into them so that they may be ready when their time comes.

When Jeremiah was young, he didn’t expect to be a spokesman for the Lord. However, God knew He could take that little seed and turn him into a big, strong, thriving plant to produce much fruit. “‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:6-8). God cultivated leadership in Jeremiah, and he ended up having incredible Kingdom impact.

Though Queen Esther was young, her uncle Mordecai knew she could be the bravest person of her generation. Mordecai was like a father to Esther. His brave example and wise instruction inspired her to rescue her people from wicked Haman’s scheme to destroy them. After Mordecai spoke to her, Esther requested for everyone to put aside everything else for prayer for her as she risked her life. “Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish'” (Esther 4:15-16). Ultimately, the king listened to her plea and saved her people — while punishing the wicked. But would that story have turned out that way without Mordecai’s leadership and her earnest heart?

How are you nurturing new leadership in your realm of influence today? How are you learning from those who came before you?

— Bill Kent, Pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Sylvania, Georgia

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