Passing on the Mantle

It is not always easy to let someone else have a go at something – especially if you are a control freak (who me?!?)

We worry that they may not do things just so, or maybe we worry that they may be better than us, and we won’t have a role left.

But there is a time to pass work on, to let someone else use their gifts and talents, for us to allow God to use them.

1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21

15 The Lord said, “Return to the wilderness near Damascus, then enter the city and anoint Hazael as king of Syria; 16 anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 

The Call of Elisha

19 Elijah left and found Elisha plowing with a team of oxen; there were eleven teams ahead of him, and he was plowing with the last one. Elijah took off his cloak and put it on Elisha. 20 Elisha then left his oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you.”

Elijah answered, “All right, go back. I’m not stopping you!”

21 Then Elisha went to his team of oxen, killed them, and cooked the meat, using the yoke as fuel for the fire. He gave the meat to the people, and they ate it. Then he went and followed Elijah as his helper.

Elisha is anointed to succeed Elijah as prophet.   Elijah puts his cloak on Elisha – the mantle is passed on.  With the mantle comes the authority.

I wonder how Elijah felt about this passing on.  He had been God’s prophet.  That was his role.  And now he is being asked to let go and allow someone else to take it up.

The Methodist Church has a “six year rule”.  The longest anyone should do any role is six years.  That at least gives others a chance to have a go.  No one has a stranglehold over any one position in the church.

So, what does this account of Elijah passing on the mantle to Elisha have to say to us?

Well to me it is a reminder that “I” am not the only person that can do any particular role.  There are others who are more than capable, indeed called by God, and they should be allowed, equipped and encouraged to take their turn.

It also raises the question of what we are doing to encourage others to have a go, to take their turn – and what we are doing to equip them.

Is there something I have been clinging on to, that perhaps I ought to let someone else have a go at?  Is there someone I should be helping and encouraging to take a role up?

Thank you Lord
that each of us has something to contribute,
that we all have gifts to share.
Help us to encourage
and equip one another,
to allow others to “have a go”,
even if we were quite enjoying doing that ourselves.

Lord
may I not be afraid to let go,
but enable others to us their gifts
for you

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