2 Kings 5: 1-14
I remember playing the Karyn Henley song about Naaman for my children when they were really young. Neat story about a leader who was healed by a no-nonsense prophet. The story is quite fascinating. A commander of the king of Syria’s army who “was a great man with his master and in high favour, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valour, but he was a leper (5:1).” The story unfolds how eventually Naaman was given this instruction by Elisha, “go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean (5:10).” The general application from this story is to remember that God indeed moves and acts in ways that are mysterious to us. However, I want to share a few specific things that leaders can learn from Naaman’s deliverance from leprosy.
1. Unlikely source of hope
Naaman’s first steps toward freedom from leprosy were offered up by a victim of war.
“Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘Would that my lord were with the prophet [Elisha] who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’ (5:2-3).
Think about this story line: a girl gets taken from her home, her family, her people, and her identity. By God’s grace, she is placed in a good man’s home (Naaman). She is stricken with so much emotion that she wishes that she could take her master back to her people. For all she knew there was no real way to “go back” to her familiar land where Elisha was. But she thought that maybe her master could go there and find freedom. A slave girl hoping for the freedom of her master through the means of her own people. This is startling. This propels Naaman’s family to hope. Truly this girl was an unlikely source for hope – but this is the mystery and majesty of God who wills all things for our good and His glory. A captive girl providing hope for a broken man of valor. Beautiful.
2. The value of hope-filled teammates
When Naaman heard the instructions from Elisha he was more than just a little irritated. He actually “turned and went away in rage” (5:12). But once again, those that served under Naaman refused to be silent for his good.
“But the servants came near and said to him, ‘My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?’ So he [Naaman] went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan … and he was clean” (5:13-14).
Naaman’s decision to travel to Elisha was a decision that effected many people. He had servants that helped bring him to this point. They served him, protected him, cared for him. And here he was about to allow his pride (and loss of hope) cut him off from true freedom. He we see how the value of Naaman’s teammates saved his life. As leaders, we must be willing to embrace the admonishment and encouragement from others. God placed courageous people around Naaman for his good and he did good by listening to them. A good team that hopes in God will help overcome a leader’s pride.
3. Grace when we are weak
Remember that Namaan was an instrument of God who was obviously a strong visionary and leader (v.1). However, as he struggles with this physical calamity he doubts, loses hope, mocks one of God’s servants, and ultimately relies on the wisdom and hope of his servants vs. his own. Can’t you see evidences of God’s kindness and mercy applied to this great “man of valor”? A victimized servant girl speaks up, Elisha prescribes from God the remedy for his deliverance, his servants won’t let him sulk and run away from God’s blessing – he deserves a life of isolation and brokenness for doubting and being angry, however, God’s grace washes over him and heals him.
When we read this generally we remember that God moves in mysterious ways (healing a leper with seven dips in the Jordan river). But there is so much going on in the details, the special appointments, the “smaller” connections we have. God moves in specific mysterious ways. In Naaman’s story, we see a proud man broken by the embarrassing plague of leprosy. Once a conquering man of valor, full of courage, zeal, vision and might. Now, being led and ministered to by a victim of war and his servants – he eventually tastes the goodness and grace of a God who heals.
Leaders, God is bigger and kinder than we are. Stop and think about all the ways that He IS moving and speaking and encouraging you. Don’t miss it – His grace is sufficient, yes, even for you. The fact that God moves for our good at all should be a mysterious to us.
Thanks be to God for providing unlikely sources of hope, faithful teammates and the grace to find freedom when we’re weak!