I’m in the ultimate meeting, the one that gives meetings a bad name: a Thailand Social Welfare Department idea sharing meeting. We began at 8:30 sharp and will sit here until 6:00 pm. The doors are guarded by people watching to see who’s naughty or staying for the whole thing. Our team of 13 are on the front row, we’ve already done our presentation, reported on all the wonderful things our organization is doing to make Thailand a better place. I wrapped it up by promoting a vision that Thailand ought to reach out to other more needy nations of Asia.
I am impressed with the girl who is up next, she’s worked for several NGO’s and seems to know some things. She’s posing a question: Who is going to carry on your work after you are gone? This seems to be the question on so many minds, but the question might worry me and the answer escape me if I am locked onto the idea that I must find or raise a person who will replace me.
It’s the wrong question:
1. That person is no longer needed. What I’ve done is unique, and specific, and need not be copied.
2. That passion has subsided. Nobody can do what I did because the passion of my day was stirred by the need of that day and if I have succeeded, there’s no need to do the same thing again.
3. The purpose has changed. The present value and continuing purpose of our old accomplishments is to inspire and empower us into the next levels.
We don’t want to plant the same kind of churches we planted 50 years ago, or produce the same kind of TV we did 30 years ago. The needs have changed, the world has moved on, and even if we like the retro look, we still want the new technology.
Our vision will only live into the next generation if it is driven by fresh passion. And new passion, creativity, and resourcefulness is found only in a new cause.
So the answer to the future is not in “Who will replace me?” But in, “Is there not a new cause today, and who will rise up to champion this cause?” And the new cause is no longer one cause but many, not in one place but many. And the new champion is not one person but many. When Terry and I began the ministry in Thailand there were an estimated 100,000 orphans who ended up here from different war zones in Asia. 30 years later, children are trafficked into sex and terrorism all across Asia. We began as one family helping orphans in Thailand and have now become ten teams of nationals and missionaries attacking new problems in new places across Asia. That’s who has replaced me.