How To Be Heard
By Don Nordin
“And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. Then Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Bethel.’
“But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!’ So they went down to Bethel.
“Now the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?’
“And he said, ‘Yes, I know; keep silent!’
“Then Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Jericho.’
“But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!’ So they came to Jericho.
“Now the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho came to Elisha and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?’
“So he answered, ‘Yes, I know; keep silent!’
“Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to the Jordan.’
“But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!’ So the two of them went on.And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
“And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?’
“Elisha said, ‘Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.’
“So he said, ‘You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me whenIam taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.’Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces.He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah?’ And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over” (2 Kings 2:1–14, NKJV).
We live in a generation that is enamored with having its voice heard and its ideas taken seriously. Any leader who does not recognize this is doomed to fail. The reason is that the younger generation believes that those in leadership seem to be unaware of the challenges of the future. They believe that many leaders are asleep at the wheel or at least intoxicated with the systems of the past.
I have spent 26 of the past 27 years as a senior pastor. During this time, the role of pastor has undergone a metamorphosis.If you used the measuring stick of what an effective senior pastor looked like in 1978 to measure the 21st-century senior pastor, you would discover that the two have so few similarities, it would be impossible to evaluate the two with the same measurement.
This generation has the following characteristics:
- They were latch key children.
- Their early years were spent in day-care centers.
- They were forced to deal with the challenges of single parent households.
- They have watched the moral decline of this society.
- They have witnessed the rise of visual forms of communication.
- They have encountered the invention of the Internet.
- They are grappling with the challenge of how to establish a life with some semblance of normalcy in the face of terrorism.
Because of these characteristics, the expectations of this generation are much more demanding. They are used to having many options. All these factors have converged to produce a generation of people whose desire to have their voices heard is greater than any generation before them. Several factors contribute to their need for othersto hear their voice. They believe their parent’s generation has:
- lost its courage.
- a consumer mentality rather than a pioneer mentality.
- charted a course that has a date with disaster.
- placed its loyalty in organizations that have lost their way.
In short, this generation believes that others need to hear them because, for them,it is a matter of life and death.They believe when others listen itlargely impacts whether they will have a future to pass on to their children.
Each generation has felt frustrated, feeling that the leaders of the previous generation turned a deaf ear to their ideas and treated them as premature or illegitimate. The dilemma that leaders and followers face is that leaders feel threatened and followers feel ignored. The tragedy is that this communication breakdown exists in the following places:
- The home.
- The culture.
- The government.
- The church.
This problem is as old as the world, but it seems to be an extremely sensitive issue in this culture because of the unique challenges the current generation is facing. God’s Word has an answer for every question and challenge facing us. Leaders have a responsibility to listen to the people who are following them and to anticipate changes in the culture so their leadership continues to be relevant. Followers rebel against authority that appears to have lost touch with reality.
There should not be a communication gap between generations.Each generation needs to work with the other, bearing in mind that leadership is not a sprint; it is a relay race. Each leader has an eternal connection to his predecessor and successor.
A leaderneeds to build on the shoulders of his predecessor and hand his accomplishments gracefully down to his successor. Leadership that operates otherwise is misguided and selfish. David received a war-torn nation, reigned for 40 years, and handed his son Solomon a peaceful nation ready to construct the most important building in the land, the temple. This kind of selfless leadership is pleasing to God.
Now that we have established a paradigm for proper leadership, how should followers present their ideas so those in authority hear their voices? For young people who will be future leaders, waiting for the time when they will be in charge seems never-ending. Young people can have their voices heard if they follow some discipleship rules.
Elisha, the younger prophet, knew that God would soon take Elijah, the older man of God, away. But Elisha did not attempt to seize a mantle that Elijah was not offering him. Instead, he humbled himself and became a servant. He patiently waited for the time when Elijah would ask for his opinion. Many believe that Elisha faithfully served Elijah for approximately 10 years. During this 10 year period, Elisha:
- Mowed the grass.
- Cleaned the restrooms.
- Changed the church sign.
- Locked the doors.
- Turned the heat and air on and off.
- Drove the man of God to his next meeting.
- Carried water to the podium.
- Ran the product table.
I realize Elisha’s responsibilities were much different from this list, but you get the picture. He did whatever was necessary so the prophet could mentor him. A person placed in authority before traveling the road of humility, will travel a tough road — the road of public humiliation. Every effective leader must first be humbled. If a leader is not humbled, pride and arrogance will destroy everything he builds.
Examples of personal humiliation:
- My first church was a church of 15 members.
- I was fired from a troubled church.
- A former pastor turned in his credentials and started a church two miles down the street.
One of my associates worked in a full-service gas station while preparing for ministry. One day a woman pulled up to the gas pump and wanted gasoline, a window wash, the oil checked, and the tire pressures checked. When the woman drove away my associate was angry.The Lord spoke to him, “If you can’t serve them, you cannot serve me.” This is an important truth. If we cannot humble ourselves in the small tasks, how will we humble ourselves in the large tasks?
Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, said he “received his MBA (Masters in Business Administration) through Mop Bucket Attitude before he got his GED.”
Elisha humbled himself before God and Elijah, and it paid off in great dividends.
Be submissive to those in authority
When we are being mentored; when we are journeying toward our destiny; when we are waiting for God’s timing to place us in a role in which we can impact direction, we need to keep in mind that we are not the authority. This is our opportunity to learn to submit to the authority God has set over us.
How many times did Elijah ask Elisha to do something that was not what Elisha preferred or felt comfortable doing? What are we to do when this occurs? We are to submit and do our best for our leader. We need to do everything as unto the Lord.
When I was pastoring my first church, I did not participate in section or district events. One day I was complaining to the Lord that my people would not cooperate with my vision.The Lord spoke a life-changing truth into my life. He said, “Why should they? You are not submissive or cooperative with those in authority over you.” The law of sowing and reaping is always in effect, even during our formative years when our leaders are mentoring us.
This revelation from the Lord shocked me to my very core. I began to realize that if I wanted my people to submit and cooperate, I needed to first. From that day forward, I have done everything in my power to submit and cooperate. When I began to sow submission and cooperation, I began to reap the benefits. I have never given my leaders one reason to question my loyalty to their objectives. I have not always agreed with my leaders, but I have always submitted to them.
When Elijah called Elisha to follow him, he required him to leave everything behind. When Elisha knew God was going to take Elijah away, it was not difficult for him to followElijah because Elisha had followedElijah for 10 years. Submission is not something you can pick up and lay down at will.It is something you do when you feel like it and when you don’t, when you agree and disagree.A follower is to submit to leadership in all cases unless doing so requires violating God’s Word.
If we desire for people to hear our voice, we will submit to the leadership God has placed over us.
Serve the generation above you
Why did God choose Elisha to receive Elijah’s anointing rather than the heirsapparent— the sons of the prophets? The answer: Because he spent 10 years serving the man of God.
Serving sounds easy, but it requires:
One cannot serve a leader without investing time and effort, committing substantial resources, loving the person, and exercising patience. Elisha committed himself to these five requirements in an effort to serve Elijah. He left everything behind to serve his leader.
Once the Lord acquired my attention I realized what my responsibility was to my leaders, I have attempted to serve to the best of my ability. Since that day, God has placed someone by my side who was doing the same things for me that I was doing for my leaders.
When my superintendent asked me to chair the Hill Country Camp Committee, I was not excited because I knew the commitment would not be an easy one. He told me he wanted me to pray about this responsibility. I said, “I don’t need to pray about it. You are my Superintendent and if you need my help, I will do it.”
Elisha served Elijah for 10 years.When it came time to pass the mantle of anointing, it did not go to the heirsapparent; it went to the man who had served his leader. Elisha received exactly what he asked for; he performed twice as many miracles as his mentor. Service eventually pays off in a big way.
I have never had a problem having my voice heard, because whether I have been in a church of 50, 500, or 1,000, I have humbled myself, submitted myself, and served the generation above me.
If you are frustrated because you feel no one hears your voice, check your humility, submission, and service.
William Jennings Bryan said, “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.”We will reach our destiny only through humility, submission, and service.