Sunday, November 23, 2008

Passing The Baton

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?


C. Beth said...

Of course my kiddos are the main focus of my baton-passing. But I've been mentoring my "Little Sister" G. for over five years now. My influence is limited; I'm not meant to take the place of her family. And honestly it's impossible to tell if I've made any difference. But I do hope that she sees some things in me--faith, responsibility, commitment to family--and that she wants her life to have those same qualities. She will be 15 in February; I hope the limited time I spend with her has teaches her some things that will help her as she enters adulthood...probably sooner than she or I are ready for!

C. Beth said...

Ahem...that should be "teaches" not "has teaches."

Sam said...

Thanks, Beth. By the way, take advantage of every opportunity. Have her learn to proofread for you! :o)


Tony E. said...

I always find it amazing how much emphasis God puts on passing the baton in every celebration or remembrance. Like the change of command (I went through a couple of those and I agree, the symbolism is powerful), instructions for celebrations like the passover are extremely symbolic and steep in teachable moments. While my twins are in the middle of potty training right now, the older two are in the middle of having our faith passed on to them and symbolism in our celebrations is becoming more deliberate, especially here as the holidays draw near.

Sandra said...

Parenting is definitely the example of "passing the baton" that comes to mind first for me. In it's own way, just as "weighty" a responsibility as the passing of that military command.

Sam said...

Tony and Sandra, you both echo the importance of training our children. Sandra, you are closer to our age and know the joys and the challenges of watching children and grandchildren grow up.

Tony, you are a blessing to your kids. Thank you for taking your "dad job" seriously.

J Trout said...

This touches me deeply, my son just joined the Army, I will be going to Kentucky again in December to see him graduate from his Advanced Individual Training (AIT) I can't lie, I'm scared to death for him to serve in this crazy state of the world. In December they will pass the baton to my child to serve his country and put his life on the line. I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of it. I keep seeing him in diapers, or riding around in his little jeep in my back yard. All I can say is I hope God is ready, because he's gonna hear a lot of prayer from me. I thought it would be easier once my kids were grown, Ha! I guess they showed me.