Wisdom Passes the Torch
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)
This scripture is very familiar to anyone who has served in the full-time ministry. It is often quoted as part of our job description for ministry staff. As the Apostle Paul approached the end of his time in ministry he emphasized the need for new men to be prepared to take the gospel to the next generation. The need for leaders to raise up more and more leaders is an obvious theme throughout the scriptures and is clearly a growing need in our own fellowship. While I have known many who feel passionately about this, I have met no one who exemplifies this more than Wyndham Shaw. His devotion to training future elders and evangelists is unmatched. I experienced this first hand during my time with him in the Northwest Region of the Boston Church.
Maria and I, along with our two small children, Isabella and Hunter, arrived in Boston on July of 2013 in preparation for our move to Madrid the following year. During that time, we led the Northwest Region, which was made up of 220 disciples (most of whom were very mature Christians who Maria and I look up to). Since most of our ministry experience was working with younger disciples in the teen, campus, and young professional ministries we felt some doubts and insecurities about leading disciples who were much older than we are.
I remember expressing to Wyndham and to others on the leadership team that since we would only be in the region for a year or so, we’d continue to follow along with the plans which were already in place, without adding our own leadership. Fortunately for me, and the region, Wyndham saw right through my doubts and insecurities. He helped me see that God had a plan much bigger than my own. This allowed me to acknowledge and address my fear, pride, and self-focus—so that God could work through us during our time in the NW Region. Wyndham encouraged and supported our ideas for change, and he did so while instructing us with great wisdom and faith.
I remember one particular conversation early on when Wyndham told me, “You are the evangelist of this region. You need to lead.” I knew on paper I was the “region leader,” but in reality I thought, “No, no, no, you have been here for a long time and you have all the experience. You just tell me what to do, and I will do it.” But Wyndham insisted that I take the torch. This is remarkable to me—as I think about the ways he followed my lead and supported my ideas. I wondered, “Why would he trust me? I’m the young guy. You lead and I follow.” But this is simply not the way Wyndham saw it.
Wyndham sees the need for younger leaders to step up and take the torch. As a mature elder and evangelist in the church, his ego never got in the way of helping me take on a larger leadership responsibility. This made me feel both humbled and empowered to take on the mantle of leadership that is so badly needed in the church. I appreciate Wyndham’s wisdom and influence in my life as well as his humility to allow me to lead. He knew I would make mistakes along the way, which I made more than I care to admit. But he also knew with proper guidance and encouragement I would learn through those mistakes and grow.
Although we stay in touch, it’s been four years since Wyndham and I worked together in the Northwest region. Along with helping to develop me in my leadership and faith, Wyndham also became a dear friend. I treasure the memories of our many fishing trips and weekly discipling times together. But the influence he made on me, especially as a husband, a father, and a leader have had the greatest impact.
I am not alone in feeling this way. Wyndham has made the same impact on so many disciples. His firm belief in the need to develop healthy leadership in the church is the reason why there are so many great elders and evangelists throughout the New England and European churches. His influence is widespread! I pray that those of us who are younger will humbly step up and take on new leadership roles throughout the Kingdom. I also pray that more and more will gain the same conviction to pass on the torch to those who are younger and instill faith in them to lead the church into the next generation. I’m extremely grateful for Wyndham Shaw, his faith in God, and his wisdom to pass the torch while keeping his burning.