Jealousy and envy metastasize. Like a malignant cancer, left unchecked and untreated, they grow and eventually kill, though in the case of envy, the death is a spiritual death, not physical. Both forms of cancerous death, however, act similarly--there's a spiralling out of control.
The following account of Saul and David illustrates this point:
Saul had given David a start, and even though he had no idea that the LORD's favour and anointing had swung violently from him onto David, up until the time of the above passage, Saul openly welcomed David and David received Saul's genuine favour.
"When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang: 'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.' Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. 'They have credited David with tens of thousands,' he thought, 'but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?' And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David" -1 Samuel 18:6-9 (TNIV).
From this time on, however, he set about manufacturing plans for David's downfall, initially at the hand of the Philistines. The trouble was David kept on succeeding and this only intensified Saul's anxiety regarding him (vv. 28-29). Things only went from bad to worse for Saul, though David over and over again acted in faithfulness to Saul and therefore, ultimately, God. This proved the key to David's abiding in the LORD's favour.
This is a truth that works equally for us. If we train someone to do what we do, why would we not expect them to eventually take over? Sure, Saul wouldn't have expected David to take over his God-anointed throne, but the succession of players occurs in life--it has to or else life would not sustain itself.
The key for the successor in any walk of life is the factor of obedience; David was steadfastly obedient--at least until this stage in his life.
For us, if we hope to find a place beside (or even in front of) a mentor one day we must be unswervingly faithful to God. We're best to put our own desires, dreams, plans and priorities to one side and serve God and our people with undying, selfless commitment--no matter the result. If we end up honoured to succeed, it's got to be God's doing, not our own.
Our plans should not be about ourselves, but what we can do for God and others. This way we place ourselves in God's sovereign hands; this is the ultimate place to be, detached and free of self, and perfectly positioned to be blessed in bringing about change and success in whatever is our chosen field.
And if we're the mentor, we should prepare for, and celebrate the day when our protégé does take over. It may seem odd, but it is appropriate. As the mentor, we've done our job. Life has to go on without us at some point.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.