There was a teenager who worked for a very large restaurant chain in a large American city. One day, the top manager of the restaurant where she worked suddenly died, and this young woman, barely 18 years old was hastily promoted to fill the vacant position. She was nervous enough with her unexpected rise to the managerial position but she was shaken when several of her co-workers began questioning her skills and abilities.
“You, Mona McAllister, have some really big shoes to fill! I hope you’re up to it!” Beth challenged.
“Neil was a really great manager, Mona. Are you sure you can do it? Heck, you’re just a young pup!!” said Mark.
“Will we get paid on time?” queried Robert.
“Will you give me an occasional break?” giggled Carrie. “You know we’re been best friends since high school! Remember!”
Mona listened to their questions and observations and found each observer to be correct, in some regard. Beth was right. Neil was recognized as the top manager in the entire restaurant chain. Year after year, he brought in more money than any restaurant manager. Every subordinate employee was paid on time. She was young. Neil was fair but firm. How could she stand up against Neil’s shining record and accomplishments with this company? Mona fretted over this for days. Since going to work for the business, she came to know Neil quite well. In fact, when Mona first joined the company two years ago, Neil trained her. So Mona knew Neil’s restaurant managerial techniques quite well. But the knowledge she had learned from Neil did little to quell her fears knowing that she had to fill Neil’s shoes—Neil’s BIG shoes.
One evening, in the quiet of her little apartment room, Mona tried desperately to recall all of the ways she had observed Neil managing the restaurant’s staff, how to hire good workers, how to prepare for a Health Department inspection. But something was terribly, terribly wrong. Mona’s mind went mysteriously blank. As a last resort, Mona cried out to God for help. For a long while, there was no response. However, while deep in prayer, a voice in the back of her head seemed to whisper, “Remember, Elisha, Mona—remember, remember, R-E-M-E-M-B-E-R. Then the voice faded away.
“Elisha!” Mona shouted out loud. Mona jumped up from her bed and ran to get her Bible. She quickly turned the pages until she came to First Kings. She then began to read.
Mona learned that Elisha replaced Elijah when one of the greatest of all prophets of the Hebraic peoples was suddenly taken up to Heaven in a great whirlwind. Like Mona, Elisha had some very big shoes to fill as well. Mona learned that Elijah was an outspoken prophet who stood up to the high and mighty to resist the abuses of his day rallying the young and old, rich and poor, men and women to stand up to those who would deny people their God given right to freely worship the Living and True God. Elijah was the sworn enemy of people who would suppress, deny, and systematically deceive people with respect to truth and those things concerning God. Elijah confronted these individuals daily, without compromise, never giving even one inch to evil and to those who taught evil.
Mona learned that Elisha was an entirely different kind of person than Elijah. Elisha devoted less time confronting evil and more time seeing to the individual and societal needs of his people. Although their methods were very different, Elisha and Elijah, in many respects, complimented each other’s work.
In the quiet of her small, cramp bedroom, the lesson of Elisha’s experience suddenly dawned on Mona. Mona came to understand that she and Neil were two very different people with respect to management styles. She also came to understand that Neil had given her a solid foundation of principles she could use to go forward. All that was needed was for someone to expand upon what Neil had already laid.
Mona knew what she had to do. That is, she would NOT in any way try to fill Neil’s shoes. Instead, she would walk comfortably in HER OWN SHOES, while tending and improving on the well—worn path that Neil had already established ahead of her.
Are you fearful following your loss? STOP! Before you do anything else, read
1 Kings 19:16 and 2 Kings 13:20, pray, then go forward down your path with confidence that the Master will guide your journey and your efforts. Fear not! Let your heart not be troubled! Even if pain, loss, depression, discouragement, oppression, ridicule, horrific suffering come your way. For these challenges are merely tests on the path of life—your shoes that will lead the faithful to the ultimate prize—eternal life!
Read more articles by Stephen A. Peterson or search for articles on the same topic or others.