Reflections on Chapter 19 of Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders.
I saw the title of this chapter and stopped reading. I closed the book and laid it aside. My mind went almost immediately to scenario I was part of many years ago. A lady of my home church, tiny in physical stature yet enormous in the Spirit, had died. Her name, Leo Croft, is probably unknown to you. But I will not forget her.
As the congregation made adjustments to her departure The Lord dropped an insight in my heart and mind. I thought about the many leaders in the Scripture and how their deaths were followed by intense mourning. But one prominent prophet stands apart. Elijah. He was mightily used of God in a difficult period of Jewish history. He was despised by many, yet held in high esteem by a large percentage of the population.
When he left this world there is not much said about mourning his death. I’m rather certain it is because that Elisha was standing there wrapped in the mantle of his mentor. I’m not saying the people did not grieve; I’m saying it was very different from the passing of other leaders.
What Elijah was, Elisha had now become. The people knew it. They were aware of the thorough training and mentoring. They knew of the sincere appreciation and respect each of these men had for the other. They had witnessed the two of them deeply involved in ministering, both in commonplace ways and gloriously enveloped in the power of The Lord of Israel.
The people knew the transition would be as near seamless as possible. Elijah had gone to great lengths to ensure that when his time came to leave this life that someone would carry on for The Glory of God.
Sister Leo Croft’s diminutive frame was wracked with arthritis. Every visible joint was twisted to alarming distortion, beyond what words could describe. Yet she climbed the dozen or so steps of the church so, so many times. She never complained, never whimpered. She sang and she lifted her hands joyfully in worship. She worked and she gave with a smile. She prayed with purpose and passion. She served. She led, not from the pulpit but from the pew. She led by example. She taught both men and women how to walk with Christ in the midst of adversity. She taught; not merely with words, her very life was an object lesson in perseverance. I was one of her students; albeit, not the best one.
When she passed, we grieved. But the grief was tempered in that she had already raised up Elisha’s around her. People felt it an honor to take up where she had trod.
I don’t know if she did any of this on purpose or not. I’ve never pondered that thought before now. Nonetheless, it happened. Leaders rose to take on the tasks.
I think it would be wise if we recognized that an important goal of our life is to diligently prepare leaders before we leave the stage.
Let us do all we can to have an Elisha standing beside Jordan, wrapped in a mantle saturated with memories from the past and might for the future.