What Can I Learn From An Ax Head?

ax

Over the past several weeks I have been doing a study on the life of the Biblical Prophet Elisha.  It has been a study of faith and wonder.  Elisha was a prophet for God; he was a great man of God who used his influence to lead Israel.  In the story that follows, I would like to share a few leadership principles I discovered in what seems to be a rather obscure story of the Bible.

2 Kings 6:1-7 (NLT)
One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small. 2 Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there are plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet.” “All right,” he (Elisha) told them, “go ahead.”
3 “Please come with us,” someone suggested. “I will,” he said.
4 So he went with them. When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees.
5 But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!” he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!”
6 “Where did it fall?” the man of God asked. When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then the ax head floated to the surface. 7 “Grab it,” Elisha said. And the man reached out and grabbed it.

3 Lessons of Leadership

When you first read this story you might think (as I did); “well, that was a clever story but there’s not much there for life lessons.”  Let’s face it, I grew up in the church and many of you (if you are still reading) probably grew up in the church as well.  We’ve heard this story before; Elisha does a miracle and saves the day.  Application: nothing is too hard for God; Just have more faith; Believe it and you can do it.

Those are all nice thoughts; but we need to slow down and consider the story from several other angles.  Slow down and look at the back story.  Please go back up and read the passage one more time; this time slowing down as you read.

Now, I would like you to consider these three leadership lessons from the story.

Lesson 1 – Be Responsible Where You Are

2 Kings 6:1 (NLT) 
One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small.

Here’s what’s going on, there is a school of prophets (probably similar to our modern day Bible colleges) a group of guys are going to a common school to learn under the teaching of Elisha himself.  Elisha, at this point of his career is becoming very popular (if you go back and read his other accounts at the end of 1 Kings and the beginning of 2 Kings you will see why).  Anyway, the school is growing; more guys want to come and learn under the leadership of Elisha and this brings us to the leadership point.

They didn’t wait for Elisha to lead them to build the new space; they went right to Elisha and told him the need.  They were responsible for the space and they wanted to improve it.  That’s a great principle, we can be observant to what’s around us and when we see a need we can address it.  We can be responsible for the areas around us to make them better – it might be at the office where we work, in our own home or the church where we worship.  We don’t need to wait for the “Leader” to come up with the idea; we can go to the “leader” with our ideas because we are all LEADERS.

Lesson 2 – Work Hard Together

2 Kings 6:2-4 (NLT) 
Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there are plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet.” 

“all right,” he (Elisha) told them, “go ahead.”

“Please come with us,” someone suggested. “I will,” he said. So he went with them. When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees.

This is a real simple principle, yet we miss it so many time.  Do good work together; be creative together; and solve problems together.  I love the attitude of these guys; they see a problem (not enough room), they are creative in solving their problem (let’s build a new meeting place), and they ask their leader to help.  Anyone can do hard work alone; it takes cooperation, patience and wisdom to work hard together at a common goal.

These guys are taking on a great task to build a building together; to build a useful space for training, to build a space for learning.

Lesson 3 – Be Responsible With Your Stuff

2 Kings 6:1-2 (NLT) 
One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small. Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there are plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet.” “All right,” he told them, “go ahead.”

 2 Kings 6:5 (NLT) 
But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!” he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!” 

These guys showed their maturity in two ways.  First, they were responsible for their school; the space needed to be bigger.  They didn’t wait till “leadership/management” came along to give them the go ahead or come up with the idea to build and develop.  They saw the need and they went to leadership to ask permission (I am glad that Elisha agreed and gave them the go-ahead).

The second area where they showed maturity is with their management of their tools; specifically, the tools they had to borrow.  These guys are in Bible College and they don’t have a lot of money.  They had to borrow the tools to do the job and they know they need to take responsibility for the stuff they borrow.

Consider Proverbs 22:1: “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth…”

How do you get a “good name”?  By becoming a person that is responsible; responsible for our stuff, responsible in our work and responsible where we are in life.  Anyone can TALK a good TALK but a person of character is responsible in multiple areas of life.  So, it doesn’t matter if you are the recognized “leader” or not – we are all leaders and we can all lead through being responsible.

I hope this passage was encouraging to you today.  If you have any other insights about this story I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading and if you like it – pass it on!