Awakening the Next Generation

One of the most significant deficiencies of the post-modern church is our inability to develop young men and women to do the work of God as effectively as the previous generation. There is a need in our world for this generation of young men and young women to grab hold of this message and reach this lost and dying world. Some would say that we lack capable young ministry. I couldn’t disagree more. When I look at my peers, I don’t see young ministers who are incapable; I see young ministers who haven’t been allowed to shine.

As we examine this critical and timely subject, let’s look at the scene is captured in 2 Kings 4; the Prophet Elisha had been the recipient of very generous hospitality by a Shunammite woman. As Elisha is resting in the chamber that was provided by this family, the man of God desperately wanted to find a way to repay this woman for her sincere appreciation of the ministry. 

Suddenly Gehazi speaks up and acknowledges that this unfortunate woman was barren and aging. So the Prophet prophecies to her and tells her by this time next year you will have a son.

As the boy grows, the Bible records a very traumatic tale regarding the fate of this boy. The Bible says that the boy was in the field with his father when tragedy strikes. The young man suffers from what appears to be a brain aneurism and dies. 

The woman sets out to find the man of God, trusting that his prophecy wasn’t in vain. Elisha doesn’t go to the house; instead, he sends Gehazi to the house with his staff and commands him to place the staff on the boy’s head. Gehazi does as he’s asked, and the Bible says in 2 Kings 4:31“ā€¦ The child is not awaked.” In scripture, the staff is always a symbol of ministry. 

So when Gehazi comes to the boy’s room, we see a fascinating spiritual picture. Allow me to take my liberty here; this boy represents this generation of young people. He was prophetic, and he was God-ordained. This generation has a call of God on their lives, but like that young boy, there is an issue in their head, and too many talented young men and young ladies sit in comatose, which means you are unable to function. Why? Because of the issue in the head. The devil is not after your calling; he’s after your mind.

When Gehazi laid the staff upon the boy’s face, the Bible says nothing happened. Understand the Bible is explicit; the scripture says there was neither voice nor hearing. The staff, or the ministry, was upon this young man, but the Bible says he couldn’t speak, and he couldn’t’ hear. Have you ever talked with a deaf person? Their voice sounds different, and it’s hard to make out what they’re saying. But the problem isn’t their voice; it’s their hearing. Because what you hear determines how you speak.

It’s a head issue. Their labor weakens the mind of ministry because they trust in themselves rather than in their anointing. They have entered a comatose spiritual state, alive but unable to function, anointed but unable to minister. Like a deaf person, they can’t speak because they can’t hear God.

In Matthew 17, Jesus finds his disciples trying to cast a devil out of a young man. The Bible says the young man was deaf and mute. He couldn’t hear, and he couldn’t speak. The father was upset. He told Jesus that his condition has gotten so bad that this spirit threw himself in the fire and the water, trying to destroy him. 

This event was more significant than one demonically possessed boy. Peter, John, and James were with Jesus; they had just come from the Mt of Transfiguration, where Moses and Elijah appeared. 

  • Moses ā€“ the Law; 
  • Elijah ā€“ the Prophet and,
  • Jesus Christ in the middle, the fulfillment. 

Moses was a symbol of the Law; his ministry always incorporated water. The Red Sea, the flowing water from a rock, the bitter waters of Marah that Moses cast the tree into, are a few examples that come to mind. Elijah was a representation of the Prophets; his ministry always incorporated fire in some way. The fire that fell from heaven that consumed the sacrifices and the chariot of fire that took him to heaven. 

Tragically, we find the water and fire, elements that represented the ministry, tormenting the young man. The very vehicles God used to demonstrate His power were now the very vehicles destroying this young boy.

There is a generation, who like these two young men, can’t speak and they can’t hear. And as a result, the things that should be representing God, are being used to destroy them. 

Talented young men and talented young ladies; who should be using their talents for good instead sit dead on a pew because of an issue in their head.

Our adversary is a master manipulator. The Bible says, “he is more subtle” than any creature on the planet. He uses the very things God has put in your life to save you, as a means to hurt you. There is an entire movement right now known as #churchhurt. He aims to get you to a place where you blame God and His church for all of the problems in your life. 

When Jacob wrestles with an angel in the dead of night, we often overlook what transpired. The angel of God didn’t come to fight Jacob; he came to bless Jacob. Yet, Jacob’s mind was so warped that he began fighting the very thing that was sent to bless him. 

The enemy of our souls is after your mind. He wants you to believe that your pastor is your enemy and that the church is your enemy. They are not your adversary; they are the vehicles God is using to bless you. The inability to submit to a pastor, or to be faithful to a church is an indication that there is a problem in your mind. You wouldn’t be combating the blessing of God if you were in your right state of mind. 

So, the Prophet Elisha comes back to the house. The Bible says in 2 Kings 4:34 that, “…he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child…” 

He put his message in his mouth and his vision in the boy’s eyes and his anointing on the boy’s hands. The action wasn’t just a resuscitation; it was a spiritual transfer.

That’s significant because we can’t afford to allow our young ministers to die in a coma! We need men of anointing to stretch themselves to whatever degree necessary to transfer their anointing into the next generation. We need the message of our elders, we need the vision of our elders, and we need the anointing of our elders. 

In Numbers 25, we find a disturbing scene unfolding. Due to Israel’s disobedience, God has sent a plague throughout the camp. During Israel’s time between Jordan and Canaan, Israel became infatuated with the gods of the Moabites. One of these gods, in particular, Baal-Peor. 

Baal-Peor is interesting; it means the god of the gap or the god of my free time. In between temple visits, Israel worshipped this false god. The plague was killing them. So, a group had gathered with Moses and Aaron at the temple to try and intercede to God. 

As the scene unfolds, a young man named Zimri walks past the weeping crowd of mourners. Only, as he walks by, he has a Midianite woman on his arm. Understand, amidst the chaos of the plague, was the enemy of Moab. Balak, king of Moab, had hired Balaam to curse Israel. Moab was a direct enemy of Israel, yet in the presence of his leadership, Zimri didn’t seek to hide his sin, he chose to flaunt it. 

I was fascinated by this because Zimri was the son of Salu, a prince among the Simeonites. He wasn’t just an average Joe. Zimri’s name means praiseworthy. He was a very talented young man, and his natural talent made him worthy of praise to his peers.

However, Salu’s name in Hebrew means to make light of or to diminish the value. Although Zimri was talented and gifted, he grew up in a home where the things of God were reduced.

Holy things were no different from unholy things. The church was no different from movie theaters and sporting events. Because of this, Zimri had no regard for God’s house, and he openly flaunted his compromise in front of Moses, his pastor. 

Zimri thought that since he was “gifted,” he didn’t need to submit to Moses. After all, Zimri was deserving of much praise. Rather than using his talents for good, Zimri decided that his ability enabled him to do what he wanted. 

Zimri is a talented young person who sneaks out during the altar call because they are not being “used.” Zimri is the skilled young person that dresses one way to sing at church and another way at school. The spirit of Zimri is trying to destroy this generation of talented young people with an arrogance that completely disregards spiritual authority. 

Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, sees this and is enraged. He takes a spear and rushes after them into their tent. As they were engaged in the act of immorality, Phinehas thrusts his spear through the back of Zimri and into the belly of the Midianite woman. 

This Midianite woman came from a very prominent family in Midian. Her father was a Prince in Midian. Her name, Cozbi, means my lie. When Zimri disregarded God’s house and the man of God, he fell in love with a lie. That is why Phinehas’ actions were so necessary. By thrusting the spear through his back and into her belly, Phinehas was proclaiming a bold statement. I will not allow the womb of deception to receive the seed of talent. 

We need leaders who have the boldness of Phinehas. That will tell a modern-day Zimri, “I don’t care how talented you are; you’re not singing on this platform.” 

Our world is full of talented young people with head issues. They are rebelling against the things of God, using talent to justify their sin. All the while, falling in love with a lie. The question is this, how do we overcome this spirit? The answer is in 2 Kings 4. 

We need elders, spiritual savants, to embrace their responsibility and lead this generation from a position of relationship. We don’t just need rules; we need relationships with our elders. We need the message, the vision, and the anointing of our predecessors. 

I would still be an “incapable” minister if it were not for my pastor investing in my ministry. I’m glad as a young inexperienced preacher; I had an elder who was willing to put his message in my mouth, his vision for Tyler, TX in my eyes and empowered my hands to do God’s work.

It didn’t end there. I had to take ownership of myself. I couldn’t allow deception to flatter me; I had to buy the message for myself. I couldn’t enable cultural relevance to distract me from the significance of the vision. I couldn’t let the flattery of talent make me believe I was more significant than the rules; I had to submit it to the ministry. 

An elder stretched himself to give me what God had given him; it empowered me to embrace it. It should be the rule in every church; leaders reaching; followers embracing. If we do that, we will not have to worry about losing the next generation; we will awaken them. 

Published by Joshua McElhaney

Joshua McElhaney has served over 15 years in ministry, serving as both an Assistant Pastor for over a decade, and as lead Pastor. During his time in leadership, Joshua learned many valuable lessons about leading. Using his own experiences and the troves of Biblical treasures, McElhaney has created resources that will enlighten, empower, and enable leaders across the spectrum to lead the way God has called them to lead. Joshua married Karena, his college sweetheart, in June of 2007. Together they have three beautiful children; Mayli, Jaxson, and Asher.

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