The prophet Elisha spent a great deal of time learning from his predecessor Elijah, being mentored by the old prophet, seeing him stand up to wicked kings and queens, watching him preform extraordinary miracles. Then one day God raised the stakes for Elisha himself. 2 Kings 2:1-2 (NIV) When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
Two more times the old prophet asks his young apprentice to stay behind. And twice more, Elisha refuses to listen and continues on with the old man. Sometimes good things happen to people just simply because they continue on and refuse to quit, even when everything and everyone is telling them to.
1 Kings 19:3 (NIV) Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there,
The key word in this verse is the word “servant.” There’s a big difference between a servant and a partner! In 2 Kings 2 Elisha goes on to inherit Elijah’s ministry and double his anointing. I can’t help but think, what would have happened if Elijah’s first servant would have stuck with Elijah no matter what? Maybe we would know his name, too.
Here is what we can learn from Elisha:
1. Servants commit but partner covenant. Covenant is a word we often associate with marriage. And so we should. A marriage isn’t a contract between two people that lasts until something goes wrong. It’s a covenant that stands “until death do us part.” This was Elisha’s stance. He covenanted to Elijah to stick with him through thick and thin, and he did and he received Elijah’s highest blessing because of that stand.
2. Servants live for immediate return but partners see the big picture. Servants obey. It’s their job to obey. It’s interesting that Elisha directly disobeyed Elijah’s instructions. He could have been severely punished for this behavior, but he was willing to risk it for the bigger picture. Elijah needed him even if Elijah didn’t know it at the time. Elisha was willing to risk short term loss for long-term gain.
3. Servants will be there in the good times but partners will stick with you through through the bad times, too! It’s easy to stand by someone when things are going good. I’m sure Elijah’s first servant loved being seen with Elijah during his stand on Mt. Carmel. But as soon as Jezebel turned on Elijah his servant was morn than happy to part ways. Similar uncertainty surrounded Elijah and Elisha in our story, and yet Elisha refused to abandon his master. And his loyalty was justly rewarded!
4. Servants are in it for themselves but partners sacrifice for each other and for the greater cause! If you read further on in 2 Kings 2, you will discover that 50 prophets were following Elijah and Elisha at a distance. They were more than happy to chime in their concerns to Elisha about his master Elijah. Yet, Elisha ignored their rebukes and pressed on for his master. Elisha wasn’t looking to be popular with the prophets, he was committed to a great cause. And the greater cause in the moment was Elijah. Elijah needed him, so he stayed.
I was with Dr. George Hill in Nairobi, Kenya recently and we saw a billboard that read, “Great Vision requires Great Partners.” How true! In fact, the greater the vision, the greater the partners it requires. Elijah had a great partner and the vision carried on with greater strength because of it.
Question: Are you a partner to your church and pastor? or just a servant?