I’ve been reading 2 Kings over the last couple of days, and right at the beginning something jumped out at me. As Elijah is getting ready to go home to be with the Lord, he tells Elisha that he should leave him (Elijah) at this time. As Elijah is going forward, he tells Elisha to stay put and not to follow him any longer.
This is not a one time statement from Elijah. It happens several times.
2 Kings 2:1-2 “The time had come for the LORD to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal, and Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; the LORD is sending me on to Bethel." Elisha responds in verse 2: “But Elisha replied, "As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you."
Once again in 2 Kings 2:4 Elijah instructs Elisha to stay behind while he (Elijah) goes on where the Lord has instructed him: “Elijah said to him, "Elisha, stay here; the LORD is sending me to Jericho." And in verse 4 we see the answer of Elisha, the same as before: “But Elisha said, "As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you."
A third time (2 Kings 2:6) Elijah tells Elisha: 6 Elijah said to him, "Stay here; the LORD is sending me to the Jordan." And the response from Elisha? You guessed it, the same as before. Here is the response of Elisha from verse 6: “But Elisha said, "As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you."
Three times Elijah tells Elisha not to go with him. Three times Elisha responds with “I will not leave you.”
Now, Elisha knew where Elijah was heading. If you read, you will know that Elisha knew that Elijah was going home to be with the Lord. We find this in verse 3 of the same chapter: “Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said, "Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?"
He said, "Yes, I know. Be quiet."
He knew where Elijah was going, and although he also knew that he could not follow him all the way to glory, he was determined to follow him as far as he could…he was determined to see him off. Even when the sons of the prophets were basically telling Elisha, “Hey, you DO KNOW what is happening here right? Why go any further? He told them to be quiet…in other words, “Don’t distract me. I know where Elijah is going, and I know what is going to happen, and I will follow him to the end.”
As a pastor, I think this is huge.
Let me say it again, as a pastor, I think this is HUGE!
Well, simply, every pastor needs an Elisha.
We need someone who is determined to walk with us, to travel the faith journey with us, to not be deterred or sidetracked. When the end is near, and we are ready to depart, we need to know that we have poured our life into others that will continue on the work of the Lord.
Before I was a pastor I could be very critical of the pastors that I sat under. I have since found that almost every criticism that I leveled at one of my pastors in the past, has now been leveled at me. I have found many who have told me how great I was as a pastor, as a teacher and as a preacher. Unfortunately, somewhere down the road, most of those have leveled criticism at me to the point where they have left the church that I was the pastor at.
I’m not saying that you should only give your pastor glowing compliments. That would not be honest, or realistic. I’m also not saying you should not have any criticism when it comes to your pastor. As a pastor I try to turn my critics into my coaches. I try to learn from the critical comments and emails I receive. However, many times the critics main concern is that things did not go their way.
Let me speak plainly here. Your need to be careful before you lob your criticisms at your pastor, and your pastor does not necessarily need compliments. What he needs are a few good “Elisha” men. Men who will stand beside him. Men who will walk with him. Men who will say, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you."
Ok, so there’s that.