[Excerpts from The Honor Cycle, by Harrison Wilder]
The story of Elisha and the axhead always seemed kind of random to me (2 Kings 6). I had probably read this story ten times before I finally stopped to question its meaning. Sandwiched between epic battles and miraculous healings is this little paragraph about an axe head floating in the water. What’s the big deal? You can almost envision at least one scribe copying ancient manuscripts word for word a few thousand years ago, thinking he could save himself a hand cramp and just leave this part out.
The sons of the prophets came together to approach Elisha, their spiritual father. They had a plan. The place where they lived was too small for all of them. They believed they needed to expand into another area. So, they asked Elisha for his permission to start the expansion project. In a display of honor that would be rare today, they submitted their idea to a father. Elisha’s response, in a display of trust that would also be rare today, was immediate support of the initiative. I’m sure Elisha’s living quarters weren’t cramped! He could have reminded them about how, when he grew up under his spiritual father Elijah, they walked everywhere (probably uphill both ways in three feet of snow and 100-degree weather). Instead, Elisha perceived the needs of a new generation to expand and permitted them to build a larger future for themselves.
The next sentence is what really gripped me. “Please! Come along with us!” This line in the story tugged at something in my heart. I realized that I couldn’t relate to this request from the sons of the prophets. I would have been happy to leave Elisha and start building my future on my own. Somewhere deep inside, a part of me didn’t want to bring the fathers in my life into my endeavors. A part of me wanted to escape their oversight and go it alone. I realized my independence stood in sharp contrast to the cries of the sons of the prophets, “Father, we don’t want to go without you!”
This is the heart behind the Honor Cycle. There is a blessing that fathers and mothers have to offer the work of this generation. Moreover, there is a blessing that we have to offer future generations. We’re uniquely positioned to build the future by not only focusing on our children but also by restoring the broken parts of relationships with parents. While we may choose to bless future generations, we need the blessing from previous generations to discover our own potential. I believe this is where the Honor Cycle starts: learning how to open the door for blessing in our lives through the practice of honor, then discovering how to pass along that blessing to future generations.
Three Questions that Get the Honor Cycle Moving:
- How do you see your parents’ generation? Think about it for a minute. Do you see value in the previous generation? Given the chance to build something on your own, would you demand that they come and build with you? Or do you relish the opportunity to stand on your own without their oversight?
- How do you see the next generation? Does your vision for the future go beyond your life? What are you invested in that will benefit future generations? Are you prepared to come alongside a new generation and empower them to flourish?
- Would you consider a new approach? What if the Honor Cycle truly does have the power to transform our families and our society? Are you willing to change your lifestyle to take advantage of its power? The Honor Cycle won’t self-initiate, but it only takes one willing person to get it moving in your family. Are you willing to consider a new approach to life and relationships?
Harrison Wilder is the Executive Pastor of Capital City Church, co-author of the bestselling book More. Better and author of The Honor Cycle: How to go from Enduring Family to Enjoying Family. Harrison’s down-to-earth style brings a fresh voice to spirituality amidst a generation searching for answers. Blending his experience as a pastor with his business background, Harrison develops practical solutions for his diverse audience. Harrison has two young children with his beautiful wife, Eileen. You can follow Harrison through his blog, HarrisonWilder.com, and on Twitter @HarrisonWilder.