Who is/are your spiritual successor/s?
In 1 Kings 19 Elijah recruits Elisha as his servant. Evidently, Elisha already knew Elijah and was a follower of Yahweh as he immediately offers the oxen he was working with as a sacrifice and follows Elijah. But servant. That’s a pretty humble position to accept as a career change.
By 2 Kings 2 the relationship between Elijah and Elisha has obviously blossomed. Elisha is clearly more than a servant. In v9 as Elijah prepares for his death he asks Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” Elisha requests a double portion of the spirit of Elijah.
Elisha had apparently been so impressed by God’s work in the life of Elijah that he ambitiously asks for a double blessing. In that culture, the first born son received a double portion of the estate. At a minimum, it seems that Elisha asks that he become a spiritual son of Elijah. Elijah responds that only God can distribute his Spirit. Over in v15 the sons of the prophets confirm that God did grant Elisha’s request to receive the spirit of Elijah.
When Elijah chose an apprentice, he understood that the battle against idols would not conclude in his lifetime. He needed to ensure that his mission and God’s message continue for years to come. Which brings us back to the intial question, “Who is your spiritual legacy?”
Who are you investing in to equip them to carry on the torch for God when you’re not able? In my spiritual heritage it seems that we mostly attempt to equip people through large events. I’m thinking of Bible Classes, youth group, sermons, worship service training, etc. I’ve often heard of the need for one-on-one Bible studies, but usually with those seeking Christ and these studies seldom continue much beyond baptism. I don’t think I have ever seen two long-term Christians meet in a mentoring relationship, eg. an elder meet regularly with a deacon to help him study the Bible and grow spiritually. Or I don’t think I have seen a deacon meet regularly with a young adult to prompt spiritual growth and train him in service. Or I don’t think I have seen women do this either.
While churches would never say this, our actions send the message that “12 months after you give your life to Christ, you’re on your own, you’re now a number in the church’s system and as long as you keep attending you’ll be find and we’ll leave you alone (unless you have a major crisis) … until we need a volunteer or money.” I believe churches can do better than that.
I have recently been giving some attention to the concept of discipleship. (Here‘s a really good book I’ve found.) Of course, it’s best demonstrated in the life of Christ with The Twelve, and his inner circle of James, John & Peter. But we also see it in the ministries of Barnabas and Paul, and of course here in 2 Kings with Elijah. Each of these leaders took time to invest in the spiritual growth of other devout followers of God. For their part, Elisha, Peter, James, John, Paul, Silas, Timothy, Titus were already eagerly following God when their “mentor” called them into a relationship that would prompt their growth even more.
Before asking the question, “Can I share my faith with someone outside of Christ?” We need to answer the question, “Can I have spiritual conversations and encourage growth with other Christians?” Surely it’s more challenging to have spiritual conversations with outsiders than partners? If we can’t grow faith in people already committed to Christ, how do we hope to stimulate spiritual consciousness in pre-Christians?
Elijah didn’t get to the end of his life and reminisce about the spectacular miracles God had empowered him to perform. Rather, at the end of his life he was investing in a disciple who would continue his mission and spread God’s message. He was more concerned with WHO his legacy was, that WHAT he had accomplished. Who is your spiritual legacy?
- Have you been part of a church that promoted an intentional pathway of spiritual growth for Christians of all ages? Does this idea sound attractive to you?
- Have you ever received spiritual mentoring? Did you find it faith-building?
- Have you ever discipled someone else? What was your biggest challenge?