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Chapter VII Elijah and Elisha (The Impact Of Personality) Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   



In II Kings 2:1-15 we can learn from Elijah and Elisha, who were both good leaders, that the exercising of good leadership will attract the loyalty of both other good leaders and a higher quality of followers.

My experience over the years has taught me that the kind of people you attract is much more likely to be dependent on what type of a person you are than on what you have already accomplished or want to accomplish in the future. I find that people tend to draw closer to people who are a lot like themselves. If you are an, "I am the most important part of this team," type of leader, then imagine what it will be like leading a band of folks who feel the same way about themselves. However, if you are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others, think of how much you will be able accomplish with followers who are willing to give their all to insure the success of your vision.

I have chosen to refer to this as the Principle of Charisma and it is present to some extent in all leaders, both good and bad. Every person is born with an instinctive need for affection, recognition and a sense of belonging. Observing a persons hunger to find something or someone to follow most easily evidences this need. This generally results in even the weakest leader, one who has even the smallest desire to lead, finding themselves with some modicum of followers. Why does this occur? That natural desire we humans are instilled with to gather will always result in some folks following and some folks leading, whether qualified or not. This is something that every leader needs to remember, because every leader whether good or bad is also following someone or something.

A leader's style also induces people to follow intellectually, emotionally or volitionally. The greatest leaders though will amass their followers on all three levels, via their minds, their hearts and their wills. This is just what Elijah did when he defeated the prophets of Baal. Not only did he call down the fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice, a feat that intellectually convinced even his most confirmed skeptics, but he also drenched his sacrifice with copious amounts of water to increase the difficulty of what he was petitioning his God (and mine) to do, or so thought his audience. It seems obvious to me that with God's help Elijah knew just how to play to a crowd, just as a good leader sometimes must play to his subordinate audience. Elijah also showed that he connected with their will when he commanded them to "seize the prophets of Baal", and then watched as the crowd complied.

Effective leadership in and of itself is neither good nor bad as it must always be channeled through the leader's moral and ethical filters before it can be recognized and labeled. Try evaluating the leadership of the following list of ancient and modern leaders: King Saul, King David, Adolph Hitler, Genghis Kahn, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, The Lord Jesus Christ, Your Supervisor and you.

It is fairly easy for nearly any leader to attract admirers or followers who are similar to themselves; however it takes a strong leader and one that understands and accepts and deals with his or her own weaknesses to readily attract and properly utilize people with different yet complimentary abilities. Never forget that a leader who fears competence in others is usually insecure and harbors some fears regarding his or her own growth.

Just like all the other traits we have and are about to discuss, charisma can be styled, cultivated and matured. This is primarily accomplished through interaction with others as regards the leader's vision and purpose.

Charisma or magnetism as I have heard some folks refer to it, means more than just having the right chemistry. There are at least four key elements that must combine in order for it to function effectively. The essential factor in all four elements can be defined by the word "Mutual". These elements are Vision, Expectations, Contributions, and Commitment. Look at the below examples of "mutuality".

a.       Elijah and Elisha both shared a vision to serve God.

b.      Elijah had expectations for Elisha who in return had expectations of Elijah.

c.       While both were together they shared in their contributions to each other and to God.

d.      Their commitment to each other can be seen in Elijah's three-time offer to release Elisha and Elisha's three-time refusal to be released.

You can tell a lot about the quality and value of your leadership when you check out the following you have attracted. Who have you fascinated and why? Would you want your kids to marry any of them? Do you recall that old saying, "it's hard to soar like an eagle when you are surrounded by turkeys"? The good news is if see that you want out of the flock you have currently gathered, and you are willing to expend the required energy, there is still time to change, mature and revamp your leadership style and "Mount up on wings as eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint."

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