What Assistant Pastors Can Learn from Gehazi
There is much assistant Pastors can learn from the life of Gehiza, the servant of the Prophet Elisha.
I. Perfect Assistant Pastors May Be Unknown
II. God Builds the House and Not us
III. Servanthood Demands Serving Others
IV. Key to Leadership Growth is Insightful Questions
V. Assistants Do Not Always Become Pastor
Perfect Assistant Pastors May Be Unknown
When the time comes for a Pastor to be succeeded, we often get more involved than God would have us be. Often, church leaders operate more like Samuel the Prophet, than following the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We’ve heard that message preached where Samuel thought Eliab was the new King of Israel (not David). God told Samuel, essentially, to “fix how you see things because you are wrong.”
To be more precise (1st Samuel 16:6-7):
Samuel was sure he knew what the next King of Israel looked like. He looked at Eliab, and Eliab’s appearance made Samuel sure this was the new king of Israel.
All of Jesse’s other sons marched before Samuel yet God had chosen none of them to lead His people. Samuel asked Jesse if this was all his sons, to which Jesse revealed his youngest son, David, was not present.
As it turns out, this youngest son was God’s choice.
The point is simple: the Kingdom of Heaven is a place where God dwells in the heart of HIS people. They are reliant on the instruction of the Holy Spirit which very often comes from a man appointed by God.
The Kingdom of Heaven, as JESUS so eloquently put it is: "All around you and inside of you."
On the flip side, Ha Shatan is always present and waiting for that 'Crack in your Armor' to appear. The Shepherd is responsible for protecting the sheep from wolves and mending any crack that may appear in the fellowship. Like Eliab and the other sons of Jesse, an assistant Pastor may “look the part” to succeed the Pastor, however, is he?
The answer to who will succeed you, as Shepherd, may lay hidden until the time God will reveal him. To be more succinct - I doubt the man God desires is even present in your midst!
Often, the answer to spiritual matters, are never in the WHO but in the WHAT. Let me unpack that a little bit.
When you read the Pastoral Epistles, Paul focused on the substance (what) as it concerns the makeup of a future leader. Samuel, in contrast, searched for the who and was thus taken by Eliab!
Searching for the ‘who’ forces an ungodly choice due for the following:
The people's familiarity with your potential successor
He teaches and leads like you to ease the transition
The people favor him not because of the Holy Spirit leading, rather out of a sense of familiarity
You know he will continue with the work you began.
If this is your motive Pastor, you aren't interested in the work of the Cross at all. It is the 'Leaving Behind of a Legacy' that is your motive, which is Pride!
The work God gave you is based on your gifts. Likewise, whether your assistant or some yet unknown successor. God will build according to their gifting.
God's people need a God Ordained Pastor - not simply some "replacement" for what was present before.
God Builds the House and Not Us
A perfect assistant to the Pastor only desires what God does, even if it is not them to lead.
As with the building of a regular house, it takes various disciplines to build it. The people that pour the concrete foundation are not the same who install electricity.
Electricians are neither landscaper, plumbers, nor other required skill sets.
Even so, God’s House is built because every Pastor (even if the church is 100 years old) did their part and then passed it on. Having been obedient, the church is solid and passed from generation to generation.
Whomever you believe to be your successor may be obvious if you, like Samuel, look on your current crop of assistants with the intent of carrying on your legacy.
However, many things the LORD allowed you to do have been by “faith.” The worst choice you can make is reliant upon your wisdom.
On this wise God said (1st Corinthians 3:19-20):
None of your assistant Pastors will ever be fully ready, as we think of it, to assume such a great task as to Shepherd. It is not their preparedness on which anyone should rely, but on God’s strength to fulfill His Word. They may have prepared through schooling, been faithful, and have other qualities you admire. These qualities, however, only qualify them for 'Promotion', not necessarily 'Exaltation'.
While, for instance, corporate American “promotes” the best candidate, God “exalts” the least qualified!
If your choice is based on anything except prayer, fasting, and Holy Ghost truth, you've sown the seeds of future unnecessary dissention in the vineyard you've worked so hard to cultivate. Your choice will doom the church to mediocrity. Worse, the confusion wrought will transform it into a spiritual "meat grinder."
If left up to the other Apostles, Saul of Tarsus (later named Paul) wouldn't have ever been considered to help grow the early church. After all, he was its greatest persecutor prior to the Damascus Road encounter with Christ.
However, there was something that JESUS knew about Saul (As did he with David), that no one else did.
Whatever it was about Saul, it qualified him to be the man that JESUS sent to the "Sheep that were not of the Jewish Fold.”
Here was the moment Paul went (Acts 13:44-47):
Look from within your ranks of Pastoral assistants for the man that God has to succeed you. However, remember, like Samuel: "Your thoughts are not God's thoughts and your ways are not HIS ways".
Do not select someone based on worldly selection criteria, to include your own desires. God will reveal the man to guide His people on the next leg of their journey.
Servanthood Demands Serving Others
As we examine Servanthood of those chosen to walk with the Man of God, the Bible offers many great examples of God’s expectations in this area.
Gehazi was servant to Elisha and appears on the scene shortly after the departure of Elisha's teacher: Elijah. It is worth noting before Elisha offers us a wonderful example of two (2) things in his service to Elijah.
a. Refusing to leave Elijah although Elijah gave him leave to. b. Asking the right question TO Elijah instead of Questioning Elijah.
Right before Elijah was taken up into Heaven, he continued the Lord’s work. To his servant and future Prophet, Elisha, he said (2nd Kings 2:1-2):
Because Elisha refused to leave Elijah, 2 wonderful and blessed events:
He witnessed the miracle of Elijah being taken to Heaven without dying. This was only one (1) of two instances of this in the entire biblical record.
Elisha asked for, and received, a double portion of the blessing from the Prophet before he was taken to Heaven.
Key to Leadership Growth is Insightful Questions
The key to Believer’s personal growth is asking the correct questions to the correct person! With the current format at all churches, these questions can’t be answered while the “Sunday morning show” is going on.
Jesus Disciples learned by asking questions, not singing, dancing, and acting in an emotional manner. Certainly, these can be a part of Praise and Worship, but they will not grow your understanding of God’s Word.
There is no wayward Church that became so by focusing on discipleship versus emotional displays producing no change. With respect to a profile of a God sent assistant Pastor, these men grow by asking their Shepherd the correct questions.
Further, even when those questions are asked, something more crucial emerges. Much of our preparation to lead God's people comes from "listening" and not "speaking."
God's successive choice will have practiced both disciplines, asking strategic question and listening, for years prior to their exaltation. Perhaps not in the church where they will lead, but within the Kingdom of God all the same.
Examples of Holy Ghost filled questions the perfect assistant Pastor has asked over the years:
“How can I be of service to this church?”
“How do I become the man God wants me to be in my home?”
“Pastor, does God want you to allow me to succeed you or is that your desire?”
Elisha refused to leave Elijah in stark contrast to the ambitious assistants in modern churches.
Elisha asked the Man of God for a double portion of his spirit instead of questioning his leadership. The heart of a real servant of God isn't conducting whispering campaigns to gain the people's favor.
As was pointed out in the article on Armor Bearers, Pastoral assistants must perform the following ministry functions:
When Elijah was taken to Heaven, Elisha went from being Elijah's Servant to the office of a Prophet. It is worth repeating that just because you serve with the Shepherd, sometimes for decades, your service doesn't qualify you to Shepherd. Your service to God will be rewarded but a Pastorate is not the reward you should seek. To believe "God owes me this" demonstrates you are not only a false witness, but not qualified to lead anyone!
What a minute, let me guess (1st Timothy 3:1):
However, just because you desire this, never means it is God’s desire for you. Lose the 'Corporate Mentality' as it just leads to more disobedience! There is one thing that I failed to mention concerning the relationship between Elijah and Elisha.
First, Elisha refused to leave Elijah's side when Elijah told him: "Stay here while I go." Next, Elisha asked for a blessing: "please give me a double portion of your spirit."
The assistant God would have lead his people asks for wise blessings and not foolish things which never last. Further, Elisha actually loved his teacher and understood the authority God had given Elijah. Do you, the professing faithful servant to the Man of God, weep at the thought of him leaving? Or, are you immediately overtaken with sinful ambition when this “opportunity” presents itself?
Having pastored for some years, and as an assistant Pastor many years prior, it is the latter rather than the former for most who read this.
Assistants Do Not Always Become Pastor
Although Elisha was exalted to the office of Prophet, we do not see the same exultation concerning Elisha's servant Gehazi.
The first issue is we never see scripture indicating that Elisha anointed Gehazi, as Elisha was anointed by Elijah.
Pastors, are you considering someone just because they served you and have been faithful? Because they have a long "tenure" and you trust them?
Let’s examine the scriptural evidence with respect to Gehazi. More specifically, some challenges Gehazi had that aren't present with Elisha's service to Elijah:
Gehazi was sent to the Shunamite woman, by Elisha, to see what she wanted (Elisha had performed a miracle of making her barren womb fruitful). Gehazi tried to keep her away from Elisha by 'Shooing her away' from the Man of God.
Elisha refused gifts from Naaman for healing Naaman’s leprosy. Gehazi snuck back to Naaman and received. The gifts 'In the name of the Man' behind Elisha's back.
The first issue was one that should not be overlooked.
The Man of God sent his assistant out with specific instructions to check on the Shunamite woman. Years prior, Elisha had made this barren woman fruitful through a miracle from God.
Instead of following the instructions, Gehazi tried to keep this very woman away from Elisha.
Gehazi thought it was his calling to keep people away from the Prophet when, in fact, he over-stepped in doing so. Anyone with the call of a Shepherd understands we are to be among the sheep and not shooing them away!
If one doesn’t have the call of a Shepherd/Leader, they should not try and force themselves into this role.
As hard as it is for most of you assistant Pastors to believe, you were probably born to “serve” the Man of God not become one. However, your corporate mentality tells you otherwise.
You are circling the real Man of God like “vultures” waiting to feast on his carcass. What if you were called to a ministry of “helps” only? A born Armor Bearer if you will.
A ministry of Helps begins with asking: "Pastor, there are many who want to meet with you. Brother how can I establish the trust needed with you to lighten your load in this area or is it even appropriate?”
If you are like 90% of assistant or associate ministers/pastors, such a ministry would never be enough for you. You may never speak it, but your foolish ambition says something different.
In maintaining such ambition, you are accusing God (in your heart) of lying! God said one thing but your heart says differently. One of you is lying!
Peter had issues, as did Gehazi, but both were afforded the opportunity to walk with a teacher despite both having their own agendas!
When we deal in truth, there are wicked wannabes who, like Gehazi, will sneak behind their leaders back and commit all sorts of evil. It has been so since the beginning of time.
Solomon said (Ecclesiastes 1:8-9):
I have been where these men (and women) are! I understand the temptation to seize the opportunity for power and prestige. I can’t stress this point enough: do not listen to the foolishness of the devil whispering disobedience and ambition in your ear.
As Gehazi was exposed for being sneaky, your deception will be exposed, and it will cost you more than you can possibly imagine. It cost Gehazi his post with the Man of God and further, Elisha transferred Naaman’s leprosy on Gehazi.
What will this type of demon influenced spirit cost you?
Seek to serve and when (and if) it is your time to lead God’s people, He will exalt you.
Header Image Courtesy of CottonBro @ Pexels