“And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, where is the Lord God of Elijah? And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted…and Elisha went over.” (2 Kings 2:14)
Leaders wear coats of different sizes and shapes in the fulfillment of duties. Yet, coats have got their shedding time, a time to take off, to put on, and pass on. Prudence demands apt readiness for eventualities. We ought to wear our coats comfortably, yet loosely while developing legacy value towards transfer options.
The prophet Elijah faced several challenges. Called to apostate Israel, he donned his coat with grace and humility at the start of his prophetic ministry. Ahab saw it, and so did Jezebel’s false prophets. When beleaguered, he even felt that he was the only one in Israel with a coat, before he discovered that there were several who had not bowed to Baal and whose coats were intact.
God spoke to him one day about Elisha, a wealthy young man, who plowed with twelve yoke of oxen (24 bulls) and owned tons of land. It was time for Elijah to get some help, as leaders are wont to need. He’d gone up to Elisha’s house and placed his coat over the young man’s shoulders. Elisha had been called, anointed and it was now internship time. Elijah tested his young ward’s resilience as to true intent, but Elisha stopped, turned, ran back, kissed his parents goodbye, and was off to the mission field of heathen Israel, led by Elijah.
Elisha sat through meetings at the Schools of the Prophets, attended the constituent groups, and got to know the policy. One day, moved by the Spirit, Elijah decided that the time had come for his departure. They stopped at Gilgal, when Elijah bade Elisha to remain there while he continued on to Bethel. Elisha persisted—Elijah acquiesced. They went on to Bethel, the next school of the prophets, then Jericho. At both places, rumor and speculation were rife that Elijah was headed up and out. Elisha ignored the speculation with a “be quiet; hold your peace.”. He would not be drawn into speculation about Elijah’s departure. They got to Jericho—a penultimate leadership challenge appeared—the river—how to cross it.
Nonchalantly, Elijah took off his coat, struck the waters and they parted. “What do you want from me?”, he queried of Elisha. “…A double portion of your spirit” says Elisha. “You’ve got it,” responds Elijah. The chariots arrive, and Elijah goes up into heaven in a whirlwind—he is gone—the Committee has acted. The coat is left behind, that symbolic mace of leadership. It is the part that represents the whole. The students watch—Elisha picks up Elijah’s coat, now his, approaches the river and strikes the waters; they part. We’ve all got our coats. Let us create value for another may need it to advance God’s work.
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