Editor’s Note: “Words that Never Die” is a weekly installment of compelling quotes from the world’s most influential people. This week, we highlight an excerpt from Rev. Dr. Mensah Otabil’s teaching titled “Generational Thinking.”

It was delivered at a thanksgiving service of International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) at the Accra Sports Stadium, to mark the church’s 25th anniversary.

A generational thinker is one who is able to sow seeds for the future. A generational thinker is not somebody who is only committed to what he wants to enjoy today but somebody who says ‘If I run with this race, I must make sure the next generation does not run my race, the next generation must run its own race, I must empower the next generation.’

“It’s like running a relay race – there are four people to complete the race. The first person starts with the baton and starts the first leg of the race. If that team that the person is part of must complete the course, the baton must be passed on successfully from one generation to the other to the other [and] to the other.

“But in our part of the world, it seems as if we don’t pass on the baton, so one generation starts with the baton, it starts running and running and running, very hard, but somewhere in the middle, it drops the baton and keeps running without the baton because, the baton is what authorises the next person to run.

“So you get to the next person but you didn’t pass on the baton, so the next person starts his race but in order to run his race, he has to go back and pick the baton that was dropped and then start half-way of the previous generation’s race in order to run his race.

“By the time he gets to start his race, the people he was on the line with have gone way ahead of him. He also runs somewhere, and drops the baton, so the next generation has to come back…

“By the time he starts to run his own race, everybody who started with him has completed, the stadium is empty but he is still running. That is our tragedy as Africa. That is why a person grows to be about forty years before he buys his first car.

“A person lives to be about 65 years before he builds his first house, sometimes 70 years before he lives in is own house, by the time he is ready to live in his own house, life has battered him so much he moves into his own house and dies. Why? Because he has been running a race that is not for him.”