There are almost zero positive examples of a five fold minister successfully handing down his or her mantle to the next generation. I can think of only a few close calls and they were anemic at best. Joel Osteen doesn't count. If you know the story, he was not handed the ministry from John. John Died, Joel reluctantly picked it up. New day new game.
Why do we not hear of the children of Apostles and Disciples who carried the torch in the Book of Acts or the Epistles? Peter had children. Nothing. Phillips Daughters were prophetesses. What was more often the pattern, recognition was given to a good father or mother who prepared their son or daughter well. When Timothy emerged Lois (his Grandmother) got some sunshine.
Yet the pattern repeats. Again and again we see and hear of spectacular shipwrecks of unprepared children who took over when Pastor dad/mom died or retired from the ministry and the net result was heartbreak. It's almost a guarantee.
What brings this to the surface once again is the arrest of Richard Roberts on a DUI, the son of one of the late Generals of the faith, Oral Roberts, in the past few days. I remember being in a meeting with Richard Roberts in Broken Arrow at Kenneth Hagin's Church. There was great prophetic confidence that he would take over the ministry of his father and do mighty exploits. Nothing has been further from the truth. He has spiraled downward. All the prophetic words in the world couldn't turn a pattern that nearly always occurs. In business as in ministry, family succession is a Rags to Riches to Rags in 2 (Sometimes 3 generations). It's legendary.
There is a prophetic admonition in all this. If you would have your son or daughter follow you in ministry and maybe pick up your mantle someday, get them out of the greenhouse environment of your church and out into the field for hardening off. They will need it. They cannot pick up that mantle unless they have spent years in the desert discovering all the good water holes, the good hiding places, where friends and enemies located, where the escape routes and where the safe caves are. They need to learn to live off the land in a desert place. They need to learn to acquire their own followers from those wandering the desert with them. THEN, if they choose (mostly they won't) they can come back and pick up the mantle you will leave behind. It worked for David...it didn't work as well for Solomon.
It would be better, even if you have a prophetic inkling that they are destined to follow you on, to keep it to yourself. My oldest son told me last year that when he saw me preaching from the pulpit when he was about 13 years old (he's 44 now), he said to himself, "I want to do that". He never told me. He drifted from the faith. Was beaten up in the world. Today he is a Pastor in a Church and doing what he saw me do. I had no clue this was on his heart. If God had shown me, I might have messed it up.
What works in finding a successor for your ministry is discover the graces of God already among you. Nurture and blow on the hot coals of that grace until he or she comes alight. That requires hunger and persistence on the part of the one to follow in desiring the mantle you wear ... not on the one about to hand off the mantle. You will ultimately shed your mantle, who picks it up is not your call. It's God's.
The story of Elijah and Elisha in transition and the passing of Elijah's mantle is how it REALLY happens. The one receiving is in place, prepared, persistent, intent, hungry for more of GOD and when the time comes for the mantle to pass, the transfer is seamless. The mantle fits perfectly. The key to receiving the mantle is how much do y0u really want it, are you willing to pay the price?
I have sat with church leadership with a looming succession crisis to help them understand this pattern of mantle transfer, how necessary it will be for the one to whom the mantle may be passed to be hardened off on the field of battle with principles of ministry hammered out on the anvil of experience. Most of the time that word of wisdom is not received. I'm not offended. I am saddened.
We misunderstand how God sees our family when we decide that ministry is a generational enterprise. He sees us as individuals, not as a family. IF he calls two people from the same family into the ministry it's more often amazing rather than assumed. Yes, I can call by name certain people who's daddy and who's daddy's daddy were in ministry. Sometimes the Grace of God is such that they are able to pick up and carry on (purely by Grace) ...but it is much more often NOT the case. Most of the time this is the road to ministry destruction it took a lifetime to build. I could point to a dozen current examples happening right now all around me. The sad part is everything they ever built, ever planned for, ever believed God for just evaporates as the Mantle is improperly passed. This is a case of not heeding James 4 (from the Message Bible)
Nothing but a Wisp of Fog13-15And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, "Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we're off to such and such a city for the year. We're going to start a business and make a lot of money." You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, "If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that."
16-17As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don't do it, that, for you, is evil.
Hear the Word of the Lord:
I chose YOU for such a time as this. I lift one up and put another down. No man can rob Me of My Glory. I choose the foolish and weak to confound those who believe themselves wise. Your eyes are on your legacy (not MINE) when you appoint your successor by blood. You have no legacy other than what I gave you...when you pass from this earth a new one will emerge to take your place, one of my choosing, not yours. Moses my servant will be dead ... Joshua of no blood to Moses (son of Nun) will be my man in the new day. So it shall be for you.
Only I can measure the heart of a man, only I can define those who I will place before those called by My name. When you speak for Me and proclaim that this one or that one is to take that place, you take my name in vain. I anoint and appoint those who I will. Your duty is to recognize and embrace the ones I chose, just as I chose David, the least, over all of Jesse's sons.
I will draw My mighty men and women from the cave of Adullam, discouraged and hurt. In pain and rejected. Those who's brokenness I can reform into an image of ME, not YOU.
Let those with ears to hear, hear what the Spirit of the Lord says.