It’s hard to win a relay race if you don’t pass the baton to the next runner. It sounds silly and basic, but it’s true. When I was on the track team, I ran the mile (1600m) relay race. Each team had four runners, and each runner’s job was to run one lap as fast as you could; then pass the baton to your teammate. The hand-off was critical. The timing had to be just right, or we would lose time or worse, drop the baton. We practiced it over and over to make sure we made a clean exchange and didn’t fumble the hand-off. Many races were won or lost based on a team’s ability to execute good hand-offs between runners. Leadership is the same way.

Image: © 2020 NBC Sports (2016 Rio Olympics: Team USA)


  Paul wasn’t satisfied with being a good leader himself. He knew the importance of passing on his faith and his leadership to others. To pass on his faith, he contextualized and adapted his methods to meet the needs of the people and the culture around him. He stayed true to his message, but tried hard to remove barriers that might keep people from connecting with God. In passing on his leadership, Paul invested in the younger generation of leaders and pastors through his teaching, visiting, and letter writing, especially to the young church leader Timothy. 

  • I am writing to Timothy, my dear son…. Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 1:2a, 13, NLT)

  Leading well means training others to lead well and passing on the torch of leadership to those around us and those under our leadership. In training others to lead well, we multiply our leadership and increase our impact. While training others and passing the torch is a basic aspect of all leadership, it is often not done well. Missed opportunities, lack of effort, inadequate skills, and failed hand-offs litter the leadership landscape and leave teammates to suffer for the poor planning of those in charge.

  Leading well means taking the time to invest in people properly and makes the leadership hand-off at all levels a top priority because it is vital to the longevity of the group, team, squad, or company. Leading well means leaving a legacy of leaders beside and behind us who know how to lead well. Whether it’s one or one hundred, find a way to pass on your leadership and your faith.

How can you pass on your leadership to others, and do it well?


Posted: July 2023 • Author: Larry Ely

Excerpt: “Chapter 8- Change in Outcomes: How Do You Succeed?” from Leadership and Faith: The Art of Leading Well.

© Larry Ely & Daniel Ely. All rights reserved.