Elijah and Elisha Cut from the Same Cloth
2 Kings 2:1–15
EFFECTIVE LEADERS are always on the lookout for good people. Each of us carries around a mental list of what kind of people we would like in our organization. Believe it or not, whom you get is not determined by what you want, but by who you are. In most situations, you draw people who possess the same qualities you do.
It is possible for a leader to go out and recruit people unlike himself, but it’s crucial to recognize that people who are different will not naturally be attracted to him. Their quality does not depend on a hiring process, a human resources department, or even what you consider to be the quality of your area’s applicant pool. It depends on you. If you think the people you attract could be better, then it’s time for you to improve yourself.
What enabled Elijah to draw like minded people to his side? The answer is found in the Law of Magnetism. Who you are is who you attract.
1. Every leader has a measure of magnetism.
All leaders attract others. Highly charismatic leaders often attract large numbers of followers, but even modest leaders gain a following. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be leaders, would they?
2. A leader’s magnetism may impact others intellectually, emotionally, or volitionally.
Not all leaders affect people in the same way, nor do they use the same means of influence. The greatest leaders connect on multiple levels: with followers’ minds, hearts, and wills.
Elijah’s magnetism affected others on every level. When he defeated the false prophets of Baal, he connected with the people first by calling down fire from heaven so even confirmed skeptics saw the reality of God. But that alone was not enough. To give his message more emotional impact, Elijah drenched his sacrifice in gallons of water. When God’s fire licked up the sacrifice, water and all, the people declared, “The Lord, He is God!” (1 Kin. 18:39). And the prophet connected on a volitional level when he cried, “Seize the prophets of Baal!” (18:40) and the people obeyed.
3. Magnetism is neither good nor bad in itself—it depends on what a leader does with it.
Charismatic leaders come in all shapes and sizes. There are Adolf Hitlers and Mother Teresas, Ahabs and Elijahs. Magnetism is like money; it’s a useful tool, neither good nor bad in itself. Elijah used his ability to attract like-minded people in order to fulfill his mission and extend his influence.
4. Secure leaders draw both similar and complementary followers.
All leaders tend to attract people similar to themselves in values, age, attitude, etc. Elijah’s leadership attracted people who loved God and who were gifted in prophecy. But secure leaders—ones who acknowledge and accept their weaknesses as well as their strengths—also attract people with complementary abilities.
5. A leader’s magnetism never remains static.
A leader can cultivate, shape, and mature his magnetism. Before Elijah drew crowds, he labored in obscurity, helping a widow and her son. God provided him with time to cultivate a vision for his life, to make his purpose clear, and to give him confidence. All those things increased his level of magnetism.
It’s More Than Mere Chemistry
Mutual attraction is more than chemistry. At least four elements combine to make it happen:
1. Mutual Vision
Followers do not naturally line up with a leader whose vision they don’t respect. Both Elijah and Elisha possessed a vision to serve God for the sake of Israel. When Elisha had the opportunity to share Elijah’s work, he turned away from his old life of farming and adopted Elijah’s vision of leadership.
2. Mutual Expectations
Mutual expectations develop naturally from mutual vision. Both Elijah and Elisha expected to do great things for God. Elisha expected and received a double portion of the anointing on Elijah.
3. Mutual Contribution
Individuals follow leaders because they believe those leaders can take them where they want to go. Leaders enlist followers because they understand that followers help them to realize their vision. Each contributes something to fulfill the other’s expectations. Elijah led and mentored Elisha, giving him the opportunity to learn how to be a godly leader. Elisha needed to humble himself, follow the older prophet, and learn. The arrangement made both of them better leaders.
4. Mutual Commitment
Without a strong mutual commitment, leaders and followers cannot achieve their mutual goals. As Elijah neared the end of his leadership, Elisha renewed his commitment to his mentor. Three times when Elijah offered to release his protégé, Elisha responded, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” (2 Kin. 2:2, 4, 6). Elijah’s commitment to Elisha had grown equally strong, culminating in his offer to do whatever he could for his servant—including the blessing of a double portion of his spirit.
Do You Like What You See?
What do you have to offer followers? Is the attraction mutual?
You will discover a lot about yourself by looking at the people your leadership has been attracting. What you observe may please you, but if you aren’t getting the kind or the number of followers you’d like, there’s good news. You need not be stuck where you are. You can grow and change in this area of your leadership.