On Friday, Cathy and I attended a Change of Command ceremony in which a Marine officer took command of a Harrier Squadron. We have attended these before, but this one was extra special because both the old Commanding Officer and the new one attend our church.
The ceremony is full of meaning and most of it is communicated by actions rather than words. It's the middle that I find the most moving. At a set time, the senior enlisted man -- the Sargeant Major -- marches out to the Color Guard and retrieves the official Squadron Colors. He then carries the Colors to the current Commanding Officer. The C.O. receives the Colors, turns and passes them to the new commander. At that moment, the new C.O. receives the full responsibility for the unit and takes command.
I get chills every time I watch that part of the ceremony. Over the years, I have come to know some of these guys and I am deeply moved by the weight they carry. Often, they lead their squadrons to the field of battle, knowing that some of them might not return. It isn't a job for the fainthearted, but leadership never is.
You see, I have discovered that life is all about preparing those coming up behind us. Whether we are training someone at work, teaching one of our kids how to drive, or trying to help Chickie learn to poop in the pot, we should always be passing a baton. It may take every creative molecule in our being and patience beyond words, but it's a key part of life. One at which we dare not fail.
What is your current "baton passing" challenge?