During a time of prayer and intercession over my ministry and ministry leaders around the world, the Lord showed me in a vision of pastors and leaders of ministries with a suitcase in one hand, and a list of instructions or training manuals in the other. Some leaders were facing one person. Others were facing a group of people. The suitcases showed the words: New Assignment, Next Levels, Persecution, Heaven. Some pastors and leaders gave the person or people they were facing the copies in their hands before they walked away. However, others turned and walked away with both the suitcase and instructions still clenched in their hands.
The Lord revealed through this vision that He is prompting pastors and ministry leaders to both 1) continue to run the race and be a living legacy of the ministries God birthed in their hearts, 2) be ready for shifts and changes as He is calling you higher, and 3) through His guidance and strategy, prepare those who will take the baton of ministry and torch of revival to keep the ministries alive and growing.
While many pastors and leaders are effective at training and sending off, and it is certainly essential to do so, it is also as vitally important to train and find the next person or group who will carry out their ministries when they are gone. As we contend for revival and share the Gospel in these last days, some will be persecuted, imprisoned, and martyred. Some will have new Kingdom assignments on earth. Some are being moved to new levels of ministry. Some will be taken to Heaven.
God is calling pastors and ministry leaders of the pure and faithful Church carrying these suitcases to not neglect to seek and equip those who will continue to do the work God started through them for these ministries. These churches and ministries should not die or disappear when these changes occur! We need to seek Him for His plan to select, train, equip and delegate those who will continue our ministries if we are to new assignments or called Home.
In the vision, those who were obedient and handed the lists and training manuals to others knew the importance of keeping the churches and ministries alive in their absence or departure. The ones who refused and walked away allowed pride and self-sufficiency in their hearts, as if these churches and ministries belonged to them and not God. We see in God’s word what happened when there was a not a godly leader, prophet or king who was equipped to carry out God’s plans after godly leaders left or died. The next generation was lost, wicked and destruction occurred. Those who look to their own strengths and abilities and do not prepare for their successors are setting up their churches and ministries for the same type of destruction.
Pastors and ministry leaders: Are you developing and preparing your replacements to carry out God’s legacy through your ministries? While we leaders should always run our race with everything within us and always have faith that God will keep us here as long as possible, we should also be prepared. We do not know how long our Kingdom assignments are on this earth. Only God knows. If you were to leave this earth right now, have you prepared your replacement? God does not want what He started in you to die with you.
Throughout God’s words, we see examples of leaders who equipped their replacements, even when they did not expect to ever leave.
Numbers 27 shows us that Moses did not expect to not be allowed to lead the Israelites into the promised land, and did not initially seek out a successor but when he was told that he would not continue on leading and would be taken to Heaven. Moses did not want the people to not have a godly leader and wanted God’s purpose fulfilled. God showed that him Joshua, who was by his side training in God’s ways, would be the one to continue to lead His people. Moses then delegated God’s leadership mantle on Joshua.
I Kings 19 shows us that Elijah thought he was the only true prophet left on the earth, but God showed him there were others who were still true followers, and called him to train and equip Elisha to carry the leadership mantle.
Acts 16 and 2 Timothy 2 show examples of how God gave Paul strategy to identify, train and equip Timothy for the ministry until the end of his race on earth.
However, the best example of ministry delegation is Jesus! He knew He would eventually leave the earth, but spent time in prayer, listened to the voice of His Father and selected, trained, equipped and delegated the 12 chosen disciples to carry out God’s plan on the earth. “After this, Jesus went up into the high hills to spend the whole night in prayer to God. At daybreak he called together all of his followers and selected twelve from among them, and he appointed them to be his apostles” (Luke 6:12-13). He poured Himself into them as a leader while fulfilling what God had for Him to do on the earth. He prepared them for his departure and set the example for them to follow when they would one day leave the earth and would need to train, equip and pass then ministry mantle on to others.
Sadly, there have been many churches and ministries that have died or became ineffective for the Kingdom because there was not a leadership succession plan. Without godly leaders to carry the mantle, doors of sin, compromise, death and destruction unraveled much of what God accomplished through the leaders who looked to themselves, and not God working through them. When leaders have thriving ministries, platforms and followers and are passionate to do the work of the Kingdom, Satan loves nothing more than to try and bring deception that it is them doing the work and not God’s power through them. Just like a shepherd needs to find a replacement to protect their flocks in the event they have to leave, so leaders and ministers must do the same for the flocks God has entrusted to them in this season.
Effective leaders seek God to identify their successors and prepare them. Here are six ways you can prepare your successors in these last days:
1. Seek God’s strategy on what person or team He calls you to train, equip and entrust and the Holy Spirit on who will be teachable, faithful to the call and ready to lead.” A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher”. ( Luke 6:40)
2. Remove all pride and self-sufficiency and remain humble. God gave you the mantle and platform and He can take it away if you make the ministry your works and not His. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Romans 12:3)
3. Seek the Holy Spirit to write out His training plans and preparation for those who will care for the flock God entrusted you with in your absence or departure. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
4. In these last days, dedicate time for training and shadowing those who will carry the voice of Truth as you have. Like Paul did for Timothy, invest the wisdom, ability and strategies God gave you for others He has called to continue your church and ministry so that the Truth will continue to spread throughout the earth. “For the time is coming when they will no longer listen and respond to the healing words of truth because they will become selfish and proud. They will seek out teachers with soothing words that line up with their desires, saying just what they want to hear. They will close their ears to the truth and believe nothing but fables and myths. So be alert to all these things and overcome every form of evil. Carry in your heart the passion of your calling as a church planter and evangelist, and fulfill your ministry calling.”( 2 Timothy 4:3-5)
5. Be prepared to let go, delegate and move forward when God calls you to new levels, to pass the mantle, or is calling you Home. “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2)
6. Do not let your church or ministry end or die with you! Jesus commissioned his apostles to complete his work and train others. When it is time, leave a living legacy and pass the baton to those who God called you to prepare! “All the authority of the universe has been given to me. Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you. And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.” (Matthew 28:18)
God is not saying to stop leading and ministering! He is saying prepare the next leaders as He prepares you for your next levels! Be ready for if and when He calls you to something new or to brings you Home to prepare for Christ’s return!