2Kings 2:13 He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.
Elisha had been following Elijah, learning from him. Now, he followed him to the place where Elijah left this earth. As Elijah left his mantle fell from him and Elisha picked it up. It was the transference of the prophetic cloak, from one to another. It was the badge of the prophet’s office and he put it on and wore it. It was a token of the Spirit which was also to fall on Elisha. He was to be Elijah’s successor and the mantle became an outward sign to all that he had been chosen, while the Spirit gave him power for the task.
Spiritual succession planning is vital and should be intentional. Elijah could have been jealous of the idea that Elisha would carry on his work and become, quite possibly, as well-known (or better-known) as he had been. He may have been concerned that Elisha would be able to do bigger and better miracles than he had performed and he could have clung to his cloak and taken it with him if he had been worried about himself.
Spiritual succession planning is not self-centered, but rather, God-centered. What is good for God is what is good for us. We must choose to be intentional about passing on the power, willing to give up to others and desiring the very best for them.
This is a best business practice, as well as a best church practice. Unfortunately I see too many people within the community of faith who choose to hold onto power, who won’t give up a seat on the committee, or on the board, or allow others to make decisions. Eventually those whom we could be mentoring leave because they feel that they are unwanted. They will go to another church, or they will leave Christianity altogether because somehow what they observe does not resonate with the words of Christ. And then we will age and we will wonder why there are no young people or children present and we will worry that there is no one left to take up the mantle.
Passing on the mantle began long before the moment when Elijah went up into heaven. Elijah intentionally mentored Elisha through his day to day life. Then, when the moment came he left the mantle intentionally allowing the world to see that this was the chosen successor.
There comes a moment when we must make visible the fact that we have a successor. We have to step back and let others see that the mantle of leadership is now on someone else’s shoulders. It didn’t diminish Elijah nor his legacy that Elisha became powerful. Instead, it glorified God.
Succession planning must be intentional. If we hang on to what we have just for ourselves we will not allow for a rich and full legacy. There are times to let it go and celebrate the successes of those who will come after you.
Lord, please help me be willing and able to share what you have given me with others. Amen.