A few days ago I was having lunch with Dennis, a good friend and one of the elders of our church. Over Chinese food, the subject of the London Olympics came up and Dennis became very excited. He told me a story about his sister-in-law who lives in London.
Dennis and his siblings are from Britain. His brother married an American woman named Shara. Several years ago Shara started a cheerleading organization for street kids in London. The organization now has chapters all over the city. She’s had quite a bit of influence and has helped to create a great amount of good through this cheerleading organization, giving hope and purpose to kids on the fringes of society in the name of Jesus.
Because of this influence, she had the privilege of being selected to be one of the torchbearers who runs through the streets of London with the Olympic torch leading up the Summer Games.
Two days ago, Shara ran her leg of the torch tour through London. But Dennis told me something interesting: instead of running by herself, Shara selected 8 youth from the program to run with her. As she was handed the torch from someone else who finished their leg of the run, she quickly handed the torch to the other 8 youth with her and let them run the streets with it hoisted in the air. What a sight that must have been – and what an experience for those 8 youth. They will never forget that experience.
While Shara deserved to have the spotlight on her for all of her great work and influence, she immediately passed the torch on to a younger generation of people so the spotlight could be on them.
She seemed to embody what Dennis told me she has been living for many years: looking to others and including them in the process. What a great leadership lesson. As leaders, it may be our job to carry the torch, but it is not our job to soak in the spotlight and seek out the attention. We use our influence to help others.
More importantly, our job is to pass the torch – sometimes quite literally.