A Chief Executive Officer in today’s corporation will often appoint a successor. Succession planning is common. It is a strategic process of recognizing potential new leaders, training young leaders, and planning for the possibility that a leadership role could be vacated.
True, but succession planning isn’t a twenty-first century concept.
In fact, God led Moses to appoint Joshua as his successor. He’d been training him for forty years. At the end of the wilderness wanderings, Moses announced, “I am now 120 years old; I can no longer act as your leader. The Lord has told me, ‘You will not cross the Jordan.’ The Lord your God is the one who will cross ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will drive them out. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you” (Deuteronomy 31:2–3). Moses appointed Joshua as his successor.
While on his deathbed, the great king David proclaimed Solomon as his successor. Solomon wasn’t David’s oldest son, but he was God’s chosen man to sit upon his dad’s throne and to build God’s temple. “As the time approached for David to die, he ordered his son Solomon, ‘As for me, I am going the way of all of the earth. Be strong and be a man, and keep your obligation to the Lordyour God to walk in his ways and to keep his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees’ ” (1 Kings 2:1–3)
In the New Testament, Paul appeared to pass the torch to his young protégé. While awaiting his execution at the hands of the Romans, Paul penned a letter to Timothy in Ephesus. “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6–8). Paul told Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1–2).
Wouldn’t it be fair to say that succession planning is what good parents do? Dads and moms build character into their kids. They teach and train, so their kids will carry on the family name for the next generation.
God directed Elijah to appoint one to serve in his place and to carry on the work. “You are to anoint ... Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel-meholah as prophet in your place” (1 Kings 19:16). Elijah found the younger man while he was plowing his fields. “Elijah walked by him and threw his mantle over him ... Then he left, followed Elijah, and served him” (1 Kings 19:19–21).
And succession planning was what Jesus did on the mount of ascension. Jesus chose His disciples to carry on His Kingdom’s work of evangelism and discipleship. “Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ ”(Matthew 28:18–20). What Jesus said to Peter and John, he says to us. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).