Passing The Baton


A few years ago, some friends of mine, Lavard and Radel Parks with their son Johannan Parks, passed away in a tragic plane crash along with six others. Lavard was such a great friend, mentor, and colleague in ministry to me. We started working together at his music studio Dunamus Soundz. When I was just an awkward high schooler, he gave me music production opportunities with some of his artists. He continued to let me work with him even into college. At St. Michael's Methodist Church, he was the youth pastor and I was essentially his intern. One Friday night he had to travel, which meant he wasn't going to be around for youth group. So, he told me I was going to be in charge. Usually, I only helped lead music. But he wanted me to oversee everything. I felt like I couldn't do it. I tried to talk him out of it, but he insisted. He insisted because he saw something in me that I didn't see in myself at the time.

And I did it. The night went smoothly.

Lavard, Radel, and Johannan Parks.

Lavard, Radel, and Johannan Parks.

See, that was the thing about Lavard. He didn't mind giving people a chance to lead. He was a musician and performer, but I don't ever remember him wanting to monopolize the spotlight. His pastor, Dr. Myles Munroe, talked about leadership and "passing the baton" frequently. Weeks before his passing in that same plane crash, this is what he had to say (clip 1:40-3:15):

Video credit: posted by OUR NEWS on 2014-11-10. (clip 1:40-3:15)

Dr. Myles' church, Bahamas Faith Ministries, isn't short on leaders mentored by him. So, the transition of leadership in the wake of his death was not a challenge. Lavard and Radel (who in her own right was a poet, artist, and playwright), too, left a legacy for young creatives like myself. I'm not sure I would be the ministry leader I am today if it were not for Lavard and Radel's investment in my life.

This past week I preached from John 14 where Jesus is beginning a farewell conversation with his followers. One of the verses that resonates the most with me reads:

I can assure you that whoever believes in me will do the same things I have done. And they will do even greater things than I have done, because I am going to the Father.
— Jesus, John 14:12

With the divine and earthly influence Jesus had, he could have kept any of that power and influence to himself. What we see instead is Jesus saying to his disciples they will do even more than him. The point is not that we're going to be better than Jesus. It's that greater can happen because of Jesus. And if we walk in the way of Jesus, we wouldn't be afraid to pass the baton because the mission is so much greater than any one of us.

Tomorrow, I'll be leaving Oklahoma to return home to The Bahamas. Over the last few days and weeks people have been writing me cards and notes expressing how much I've impacted them. Some friends of my mine threw me a surprise going-away party and it was more than I could've asked for. The church I worked for honored me on my last Sunday. In many cases I had no idea specifically how I affected people's lives. It's such a blessing to see all that God has done through me in these past seven years. I'm grateful that I've left some type of mark.

But, it's not just enough to leave a mark. Legacy also matters. If we leave a mark, it may just become a monument. But, if we leave a legacy, it becomes a movement. I hope this can be said for my life up to this point.


To hear my sermon called "Hidden In Plain Sight," listen below.

Keith BethellComment