“‘Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.’ And Elisha said, ‘Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.’ [Elijah] said, ‘You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.‘”
The relationship between a spiritual father and son (or mother/daughter) is precious and rare. It is a connection which we should all desire. The role of spiritual parent is one to which we should all aspire. Life lessons passed along by mature Christians, primarily through their example, prepare us for our destiny. When God sets up these relationships in our life we should not esteem them lightly or let them go easily.
Prophet Elijah and his protege, Elisha, reveal how impactful and transformative a God ordained relationship can be. In his lifetime, Elisha performed twice as many miracles as his spiritual father, Elijah. This did not happen simply through association. The “double portion” of anointing was not an entitlement. It cost Elisha. There were lessons he needed to learn which prepared him for the blessing. When Elijah heard what Elisha wanted from the relationship, he replied, “You have asked a hard thing.” He had to prove himself worthy of the honor. A lesson I learn from this narrative: If I am willing to pay the price, I set myself up for increase.
“That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value.” T. Paine
Second Kings 2 relates four places (Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho, Jordan) Elijah and Elisha were together before the master was taken away. Each of these destinations signify important lessons Elijah learned in his ministry as a prophet to Israel. In turn, Elisha needed to embrace the same lessons to make a successful transition and receive the “double portion.” In forty years of ministry I have found these Pillar Principles are necessary to sustain me for the long journey.
1. Pain (Gilgal): Elijah was called and sent to confront a rebellious people and ungodly king (and his wife, Jezebel). He suffered rejection, disappointment, threats, depression, persecution, failure. One important lesson we must learn to endure in ministry is resilience: how to handle and recover from pain which inevitably comes from dealing with people.
2. Success (Bethel): Elijah experienced awesome wins and saw God do great miracles. The confrontation on Mt. Carmel was like winning the Championship in the Kingdom. Elijah could have been puffed up with pride, declared himself king or built his entire ministry around that one win. He did not allow success to change him. To walk in humility while you are being used by God is another great lesson we must learn.
3. Cooperation (Jericho): ministry is all about relating and partnering with others to do Kingdom business. God sent a poor widow to partner with Elijah which sustained them both in difficult time. When Elijah complained about being the only one left who was jealous for God, the Lord let him know there were many others besides. He was told to anoint a successor in ministry. None of us is called to do ministry alone. Our longevity and success is going to depend on how well we work with others.
4. Dependence (Jordan): “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” Elijah’s obedience and faithfulness was proven over years of ministry under difficult conditions. He developed a relationship of trust with the One Who called, anointed and sent him. This kind of trust doesn’t come by picking up the mantle. It is forged in communion with our Creator. In this transitional moment, Elisha’s dependence shifted from his spiritual father to God Almighty. He did not put confidence in his long relationship with Elijah, spiritual gifts, a call, the mantle, hard work, etc. He placed his dependence in the Lord, God Most High.
The result of lessons learned was graduation – “the spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.”
Have you learned how to rebound from pain, disappointment, and failure?
Is it difficult to give God thanks and all the glory for success in ministry?
Do you recognize the people God has placed in your life to assist you and for you to help?
Are you willing to pay a price for increase in your life?