Saturday, 25 June 2022

The Shiny-Shoed Prophet Syndrome

He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 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.
When the company of prophetswho were at Jericho saw him at a distance, they declared, ‘The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.’ They came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. (2 Kings 2:13-15)

 Bit of an odd character, Elisha. Only summoner of boy-eating bears recorded in the Bible. Famously bald.

And it appears he really wasn't happy about Elijah going up to heaven. Because every time someone tells him Elijah is going to be carried off, Elisha tells them to be quiet. Obviously he doesn't want to lose his boss. But is he wondering whether he'll be up to the job - Elijah's some act to follow obviously.

But it's going to happen. And he knows he needs the full inheritace of the Spirit from Elijah if he's going to take on the job.

Now, couple of comments about business (and politics, and often the church) here. 

We confuse confidence with competence. What is it that so many people get fooled by a fool who can talk a good game? Why do evangelicals always need to follow a visionary? Why are they always, in Michael Saward's phrase, "suckers for a prophet"? We always follow the people who believe they're good - forgetting that they may be too dim to know how unqualified they are for the job. Don't fall for the chap who turns up to an interview with shiny shoes, and think he's the one to do a great job - his mum probably shone them for him before he went out. Ask hard questions.  Don't be dazzled by the shiny shoes.

And how often to businesses bring people in to follow roles, rather than promoting people into vacancies? I've often wondered why it is - and I suspect it's because they know the flaws of the people they've got in the business already. Whereas they can believe anything they like about someone they bring in from the outside. Particularly if they have shiny shoes.

Whereas God is clearly planning to promote Elisha. And he doesn't like it. Maybe his shoes aren't shiny enough.

But what Elijah does know is - if he's going to do the job God clearly have in mind for him - he's only going to do it in the power of God's Spirit. When that chariot goes up into heaven - he's going to need the mantle of Elijah.

And what humility he shows. When he approaches the Jordan, he knows that Elijah crossed it using his mantle - and he does the same thing. But he doesn't do it in his own strength, he does it in humble trust in the Spirit: "Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?" and he gets his answer. The Lord, the God of Elijah, is his God as well.

Don't trust in shiny shoes. Don't trust in people whose confidence outweighs their competence. Trust in the God of Elijah. It's likely that God is expecting you to do something. If so, don't trust in your ability. But don't doubt it either. Trust in the God of Elijah.


  1. Oh, how many times to relate to current circumstances?!

  2. Shiny shoes syndrome is definitely a thing, as we found out to our cost.


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