Numbers 8 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional

“The L_rd spoke to Moses: ‘In regard to the Levites: From 25 years old or more, a man enters the service in the work at the tent of meeting. But at 50-years-old he is to retire from his service in the work and no longer serve. He may assist his brothers to fulfill responsibilities at the tent of meeting, but he must not do the work. This is how you are to deal with the Levites regarding their duties.’” Num 8: 23-26

I have friends who are real estate investors. Presently, they are building retirement communities for young (and young-at-heart) retirees. Part of the secular “American Dream” is to work hard, be diligent with your money, and spend your retirement years playing, more-or-less. I don’t see such a lifestyle even suggested in the Bible.

Two of my best friends, on the staff at the church where I work, are over 8o years old. One is a WWII veteran, and the other is a former industrial engineer. If you ask them about retirement, they’ll tell you that followers of Yeshua never retire from serving the Lord. Put simply: When it came time to retire from their occupations, they began working fulltime on their preoccupations, namely, sharing the gospel!

Track with me for a moment…almost every congregation I have attended, throughout my entire life has been a mega church. I don’t know why. I’ve tried smaller congregations, but seldom can one find much synergy. Perhaps, I am attracted to the excitement & opportunity of being around congregation leaders who lead thriving congregations.

Now, a major hurdle, which every organization must face, is the eventual passing of its founder or leader. Our culture loves to follow personas. We are naturally drawn to “celebrity”. So, whenever a charismatic persona leaves a congregation, it can often lead to that congregation’s collapse. Why? Because, charisma kills vision. What I mean is, when a congregation relies too much on their leader to save the day, (instead of relying on the L_rd) they generally spend inadequate amounts of time building-up young leaders to take their place in the pulpit. Then, when the leader is gone, there is nobody in reserve. Israel needed a Joshua to follow Moses. Every Elijah needs to have an Elisha in the wings…and your congregation needs a successor too.

G_d saw this potential for leadership implosion in Israel, and He set up guidelines to perpetuate leaders and managers throughout the generations. Leadership magnate John Maxwell says, “Success is defined by the successor.” What he means is that it’s not enough to build a big organization. More important, is building an organization that would thrive in your absence.

Yeshua said, “Go make disciples.” Perhaps, that element of discipleship is the heart of the Levitical “mandatory retirement” policy. Every Levite got his day in the sun, then he was commanded to spend the rest of his life preparing and enabling the next generation.

~Steve Wiggins, Associate Leader, Worship Leader
Shuvah Yisrael
Daily Devotional, Thursday, May 15, 2014