Generational Transference in the Bible: Historic Books

Generational Transference Passing

The Bible also reveals what happens to a society, or at least to God’s gathering of people, when one generation fails to transfer their passion and experience of ministry to the succeeding generation.  Historic books like Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles are filled with the unfortunate accounts of the death of a godly generation followed by “another generation” that grows up knowing neither the Lord nor what God had done for Israel.[1]

 But there are several successful examples of leadership transference.  For instance, at the right time, Samuel, led by God, selected David as a key leader in the leadership succession plans for Israel.  Samuel’s transference of David reveals several key principles to generational transference:[2]

·  The next generation was intentionally chosen and given opportunity.[3]

·  Successive generations exhibited formation of character and relationship with God.[4]

·  The younger generation sought to partner in mission with the older generation.[5]

·  Transference of leadership involved a relational core.[6]

·  Transference of leadership was for the sake of the community.[7]

·  The next generation was given high-level opportunity.[8]


As obstacle to generational transference that can be derived from the triangle of relationship between Samuel, Saul and David concerns the detrimental effects of possessive leadership.  The point of history is that no one individual is able to keep a role as leader forever.  There comes a point when a leader must step down and pass on responsibility and authority.  Samuel understood this and so blessed David.  Saul refused to accept this reality and so fought against the next generation to whom God had chose to pass his mission.  Saul obsession with his grasp of control and power, coupled with his dilapidated character, undermined the ability for a smooth transfer of leadership.  But is it not true that any person who seizes the baton and resists passing it eventually must let go- either through the direct action of God or the inevitability of death.  A visionary leader, therefore, will work to raise up another leader to whom the baton can be passed.  The leader of character who follows after God will seek out next generation individuals or communities to whom transference of ministry leadership can be given.  As Peter Lyne has noted, “it is important to recognize the emergence of a ‘David’ and not allow ourselves to become ‘Sauls’, holding on to what we have.”[9]

[1] Joshua 22:27

[2] 1 Samuel 16:1-13.  Peter Lyne (Lyne, Peter.  Baton Change: The Next Generation. Tonbridge, UK: Sovereign World Ltd, 2000) suggests three principles derived from the Samuel and David relationship: 1) David was anointed for the task (God was with him), 2) There was a relational core at the heart of his team, 3) The people gathered to his leadership.  Lyne, 54

[3] Though in David’s case the intentional choosing came directly from God through Samuel.

[4] 1 Kings 11:4 bemoans the fact that Solomon’s heart grew away from the Lord, whereas his father’s heart had been “fully devoted to the Lord his God.”

[5] David worked hard to partner with Saul in the mission of God, though Saul was inconsistent in his willingness to partner with David.  David was extremely successful, however, in partnering with Jonathon.  In many ways, though Jonathan was his peer by age and friendship, Jonathan represented the former generation of leadership.  In a dramatic symbol of succession, Jonathan handed David the symbols of his authority that could be interpreted as a sign of his desire for David to succeed in leadership.  1 Samuel 18:1-4

[6] Transference was enabled in many ways through Samuel and Jonathan’s relationship of trust with David.

[7] David had God as his priority and Israel’s benefit in mind as he took on leadership.

[8] God certainly entrusted David with the responsibility of substantial directives and ministry initiatives.

[9] Lyne, 53

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.