Elijah was already a prophet when he was sent by the Lord to choose Elisha as his successor.
“The Lord said to him, ‘Go return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.” (I Kings 19:15-16)
When Elijah sought out Elisha, the younger man did not even question that he was to follow his new mentor. Instead, he only asked to be able to say goodbye to his parents.
Mentors Showing Others their Calling
In this scenario, Elijah was used by the Lord to call Elisha to become a prophet. This same concept can apply to the power of mentorship today. Often, mentors have the ability to lead their mentees down the right path, whether it is in a career, in their personal life, or in their religion.
People who serve as leaders or teachers have a very important job then. If they guide their mentees on the wrong path, the result could be negative. However, if they, instead, help their mentees see what their “calling” actually is, then they will have done their job and the outcome could be very positive.
“And when they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.’ And Elisha said, ‘Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.’ He said, ‘You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.’ As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ and he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of Jordan. He took the mantel of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ And when he also struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.” (2 Kings 2:6-14)
Elisha was under the mentorship of Elijah for a very long time. He obviously depended on his mentor, and he cared about Elijah as well. When it came time for Elijah to go to heaven and for Elisha to take over, there could have been two different responses:
- Elisha could have panicked, unsure of what to do and lived his life grieving Elijah.
- Elisha could take a moment to grieve and then take over where Elijah left off.
Obviously, Elisha chose “B”. While he had been the follower for a very long time, he recognized that he must take over the role of leader. Elijah had done such a good job of mentoring that his mentee had no problem going out on his own with the same strength and faith. This is demonstrated in the parting of the waters.
Previously, Elijah had parted the waters of Jordan with his mantle, allowing the two to cross safely. After Elijah was taken to heaven, it was clear that Elisha must take over the same role. He did so and he too was able to part the waters of Jordan. This shows us that the mentor was able to instill their leadership ability into their mentee.
In today’s world, mentors have to ask themselves: are we preparing people to become leaders or are we making them too dependent on us?
When mentors allow their mentees to become too dependent, those mentees will not know what to do when they are out on their own. This is not the purpose of the mentor. It is not to say, “I am so good that you can’t do anything without me.” Not only does this accomplish nothing, but it would have a very negative effect. Imagine if Elijah had been this way with Elisha. The results would have been detrimental when Elijah was taken up to heaven.
Instead, whether mentoring a child or an adult, it is vital that leaders understand how to lead in a way that their mentee learns from their strength and abilities. Here’s a good example of this:
Two different fathers are attempting to teach their sons how to change a tire. The first father changes the tire in front of the boy and expects the son to know what to do even though the son was never allowed to touch a tool. The second father hands the tools to his son and then walks him through the process of changing the tire.
Obviously, the second son will be the one capable of changing a tire when he is out on his own. This is the path that mentors must take, which is what is illustrated in the story of Elijah and Elisha.
Know that I am sending you the best that God has to offer you and I will see you up, up, and over the top.