I once had an encounter with a parent at my daughter, Sarah's
1. “But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the LORD by him?And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.”
II Kings 3:11
Your motive for service, determines the quality of your service and also determines who you listen or turn to for counsel. Many had started out serving at an office, or a church with genuine intentions and devotion, but others talked them out of it by sowing subtle or overt seeds of discord in their hearts through negative ‘whisperings,’ or if you like, gossip:
Troublemakers start fights; gossips break up friendships
There are six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies a person who sows discord in a family.
– Proverbs 6:16-19
If you are serving only to receive praise, accolades or rewards from your leader or employer, erroneously believing that treacherous service is the way up, lots of eye service, hypocrisy, scheming, and fraudulent activities will be part of your service; of course you may deceive man into rewarding your hypocritical service as men are easily swayed by outward appearance, but those rewards become like cankerous sores in your life and hinder you from blossoming to your fullest. Undeniably, you will and should get perks, promotions and rewards in the course of your service, but you do not need to scheme or murder another person’s character or drive, to get those. You could argue that many have cheated, stolen, lied and amassed lots of monies in their places of service and nothing happened, because we tend to trivialize happiness, contentment and peace to money or material acquisitions alone—even though we know rationally that money is no substitute for these things. When you understand that there is a big difference between authentic growth and mere swelling, you would bin that argument. When a boil swells, it keeps standing in its pride of place on whatever spot it is growing on, in the body, because it has not ripened. When a boil becomes ripe, it bursts and spills out its contents. Nothing can stop a ripe boil from spilling its contents. Likewise, growth and promotion which is predicated on falsehood never stands the test of time, even if it takes another generation for the bubble to burst. On the other hand, enduring growth that will stand the test of time and bequeath a legacy to unborn generations is never built on deceit- no matter how smart the perpetrator thinks he or she is.
NEVER! Look at these verses in Psalm 37:1
1 Don’t bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
7 Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder who elbow their way to the top…
34 Wait for and expect the Lord and keep and heed His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; [in the end] when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
35 I have seen a wicked man in great power and spreading himself like a green tree in its native soil,
36 Yet he passed away, and behold, he was not; yes, I sought and inquired for him, but he could not be found.
37 Mark the blameless man and behold the upright, for there is a happy end for the man of peace.
38 As for transgressors, they shall be destroyed together; in the end the wicked shall be cut off
Elisha was a servant to Elijah. The scriptures describes him as one who ‘used to pour water on Elijah’s hand’- an act which suggests how attuned he must have been to his master’s needs and how humble he was. His credentials of faithfulness singled him out for promotion to the next level of his life when the time came. He came into prominence and influence, not by treachery, back-stabbing or calculated stunts to give an appearance of diligence when all it ever was, was an act, but simply by sincere and diligent service to his master, Elijah. Even when he received seemingly well-meaning advice from other sons of the prophets (his colleagues, friends, family), who tried to dissuade him and get him to see the futility of following (submitting to) a man who would soon be taken from him (one whose plan for him and his future, he was not so sure of), he ignored it all and followed doggedly until the end when the mantle of leadership exchanged hands. He was not described as a great prophet, leader, or any fancy epithet when he first started serving, but merely as one ‘who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” However, he became one of the greatest prophets of his time, and was so anointed that even in death, his bones revived a dead man. He first proved his calling as a follower, before he was entrusted with the responsibility of leadership and he demonstrated clear humility, faithfulness, commitment, loyalty and passion for service- attributes that distinguished him from so many other sons of the prophets (servants, employees etc). He got his motive right and that went a long way to determine the quality of his followership of Elijah.
Many have missed out on what would have been their greatest opportunity for emerging as leaders with great impact in their fields of service on any level, because they did not see service at a work place or church, as an opportunity to serve God by serving others, but erroneously believed that it was an opportunity to grab as much as they could, however they could, and move on the next place. They saw it as a short cut to riches/prominence, but failed to realize that prominence and success in life is a process which no quick-fix scheme can achieve. Elisha, spent time studying at Elijah’s feet and learning the principles of a calling he would be walking into. He ended up with a double portion of his master’s anointing and performed even greater miracles than Elijah ever did. He sure started out as a ‘water boy,’ but ended up as a great prophet of God. He had his weaknesses, like every man does, but that is not the focus of this piece. You may be starting out small, but you will not end small if you fix your inner motives and trust the God of the man you serve, not the man of God- because a man can fail you at any time, but God never will. Likewise, your place of service is an opportunity to learn and gain experience and mastery at what you do. It is an opportunity to be mentored. It will not always be smooth and the challenges could push you into wanting to give up, but God knows how to bypass masters who could even set themselves up as clogs in your wheel of progress, and bless you based on the true intent of your heart which He alone sees. No one can stop you from getting something that is meant for you- only you can stop yourself. Be faithful and committed, even to a bad master- scripture advises this:
You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect.
Do what they tell you–not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel.
1 Peter 2:18
When you serve another man genuinely and faithfully, you become qualified for your own.
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