When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you.” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. – 2 Kings 2:9. Perhaps more attention was paid by the world recently to the eventful transition of papal authority than to any other ceremony in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
And even more news has been generated by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s selection of his new name, Pope Francis. There are at least two famous Roman Catholics with Francis in their names: St. Francis Xavier and St. Francis of Assisi. It is believed that either of the Francises was philosophically and practically clothed in humility. And Pope Francis began his journey as the newest spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics throughout the world with acts of humility.
In a Dallas News editorial last week, the opening sentence read, “One has to respect anyone who ascends to a position of extraordinary power and immediately asks for people’s prayer.” That’s humility. Refusing to ride in a limousine and, rather, riding on the bus with his followers is an act of humility.
And if there is ever a time for political, business and spiritual leaders to influence others by examples of humility, it is now. Arrogance has long been seen by many as a necessary badge of authority but the famous British theologian Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “None are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves.” And with scandals rocking the religious and secular world, and with moral and ethical failures growing, there is a need for leaders to influence followers with dignity, respect and humility.
The leaders of the three major monotheistic faiths were humble people. Abraham was a humble and faithful servant and became the national leader for the Jews. Muhammad was a humble man who led his disciples with humility and became the undisputed founder of Islam. And Jesus describes himself in the Christian scriptures as being meek and lowly. And Jesus’ service, sacrifice and suffering on Calvary’s cross were His greatest acts of humility.
A close follower of Jesus wrote in 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and he will exalt you.” Long before Cardinal Bergoglio decided to live a life that mirrored that of Francis, the Old Testament leader Elisha decided to live a life that mirrored that of Elijah the prophet. Elisha considered himself the only child or first born of Elijah, as the disciples of eminent teachers were called their children; so he requested and really claimed a double portion of his spiritual influence. Anyone else would probably be satisfied to receive a “single-share” blessing only.
So, when the Lord exposes us to ministers, models and mentors of faith, we should do our best to double up on those attributes, abilities and attitudes we desire for ourselves. The double dose does not come automatically from just thinking about it but requires mere patience, mental preparation and more prayer. The result will be mighty power to perform for the Lord.
*Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com