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Passed Over
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My dad was dying. He’d been sick with Hepatitis C for years and we all knew it was only a matter of time. I’d been staying in his hospital room night and day for the past few days. We had some good talks and for the first time, I actually listened to him.

At one point, he got tears in his eyes and I knew he was going to say something significant.

“What is it, Dad?”

“Why did they stop asking me to play the violin at church? Was it because they thought I couldn’t play well enough?”

His question surprised me. Was this something an 81-year-old person thought about on their death bed? Granted, Dad and I were way too similar in our personalities and melancholia is a hard trait to hide. In fact, when I was a magazine editor, I used to tell my staff to remind me occasionally that everything was not all about me. Hearing Dad reminded me again where I inherited that tendency.

I tried to explain to Dad that the torch was being passed to younger members in his church. It had nothing to do with his ability. It was time for the young people to learn responsibility and leadership. We’d already had our turn.

Maybe My Turn is Over

I’m now reminded of that because I’m a new member of a church where I’m one of the oldest choir members. A few are chosen to stand in front each week with microphones leading their section. I haven’t been invited to do that and there’s a part of me dying to tell them how talented I am, what a great voice I have and how long I’ve been a church soloist. But approaching my 60th birthday, it’s possible my turn is over, too. I’m still consulted on creative writing tasks and children’s drama, but there’s not much room for “Dee the star.”

When Moses had to step down and hand the reins over to Joshua, did he feel the same way? “Now Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him, doing just as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Deuteronomy 34:9). Moses is considered one of the greatest generals of all time. He was a powerful and charismatic leader. I think Moses was very sad that he was being passed over, but he was so close to God that he knew it was time to step down.

Knowing when that time comes requires sensitivity on our part—whether we’re the ones being passed over or the ones being handed the torch. I’ve learned these important concepts: serving in any aspect in a church body is a gift, our job is to mentor those younger and newer in the faith and special care should be taken when older members are being replaced. We’re in a church body to make it stronger, not to tear it down, and we all have special gifts. “Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you” (1 Corinthians 14:26).

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By Dee Litten Reed. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the New Living Translation © copyright 1996.

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