When Elijah was depressed, God met his need by supplying him with an intern. We need someone to mentor by passing on our knowledge, skills, and values. Depending on your spiritual walk you may be an Elijah, Elisha, or both.
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. (1 Kings 19:19 NIV)
Elisha was plowing a field when Elijah came. He was not doing anything spiritually significant, but God had prepared him to be the next major prophet. Much of our lives will center around normal life activities. I remember a conversation I had with God when I was about 25.
I said, “God I thought you called me into ministry, but here I am vacuuming the same floor again.”
God replied, “Yes I called you to ministry. Taking care of your family is part of your calling. Jesus spent only three years, 10% of His life in ministry. So just because what your doing doesn’t seem like my plan for Your life, doesn’t mean that it isn’t.”
Elisha was faithful to use what God had given him, oxen and land. Twelve oxen meant wealth. A drought for over three years would have killed many animals, but Elisha still had animals. God uses both the wealthy and the poor for His glory. The 7000 who did not worship Baal came from all economic backgrounds.
The cloak that Elijah threw over Elisha was the same one he used to hide his face when God spoke (1Kings 19:13). Symbolizing his passing the ministry on to Elisha, Elijah gave the cloak. It will Elijah’s being carried away on the chariot before the cloak becomes Elisha’s permanently (2 Kings 2:11-14).
Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” (1 Kings 19:20 NIV)
Elisha had to run to talk to Elijah. His actions speak to being responsible, not delayed obedience (Luke 9:61). He was responsible to get his affairs in order.
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. (1 Kings 19:21 NIV)
Elisha was a man of celebration. He cheerfully held a barbecue to say good bye to the neighbors. He doesn’t slip away quietly, so he could return if he changed his mind. He boldly burns the equipment in affect destroying his link to his former vocation. He is fully committed. This is the attitude we are to have when we surrender our lives to Jesus (Luke 9:62).
Elijah did not have to persuade Elisha to go with him. Not only did Elisha know who Elijah was, but he also knew about the death threats. He believed God would protect him from Jezebel.
Moses mentored Joshua for decades before transferring the leadership over. Samuel was a child when Eli began training him. It is our responsibility to learn from those with greater faith, all the while training the next generation. We must do more than just live by example in our marriages, and parenting. We must also invest our time in people.
Who will you mentor?