Abishai was one of the leaders of David’s army. Second Samuel 23:18,19 says,
Now Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief of the thirty. And he wielded his spear against three hundred men and killed them and won a name beside the three. He was the most renowned of the thirty and became their commander, but he did not attain to the three.
He is first mentioned in 1 Samuel 26:6,
Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai the son of Zeruiah, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.”
The first thing we hear about him is that he volunteered to go with David on a dangerous mission into Saul’s camp. That was apparently the beginning of a career that led him to a position of leadership.
But when David asked for volunteers there was another man present, Ahimelech the Hittite. He had a chance to go with David but didn’t do so, and he is never mentioned again in the Bible. What would have happened if he had volunteered? We can’t know for sure but it is possible that he would have had further opportunities for service and would have achieved a postion as important as Abishai’s.
Chapter two of 2 Kings tells how Elijah’s time on earth ended. As he traveled toward the place of his final appointment with God he told Elisha his servant three times to stay behind but Elisha insisted on following him.
And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho.
Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.
The final result of Elisha’s persistence was that he became Elijah’s successor.
Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.
2 Kings 2:15
But Elijah had another servant before he met Elisha. When he fled from Jezebel he left his servant at Beersheba and continued on alone.
Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
1 Kings 19:3
We aren’t given any details about this event but apparently the servant was quite willing to be left behind. But there is no indication that Elijah ever went back to Beersheba to get the servant. Instead God directed him to call Elisha to replace him.
What might have been the result if the servant had refused to stay behind and insisted on going on with Elijah as Elisha did later? It seems possible that he would have been the one to succeed Elijah as prophet.
Both Ahimelech and Elijah’s servant had opportunites to serve that could have led them to even greater opportunities. But they failed to take advantage of them and so sank into obscurity. Ahimelech is never mentioned again and we don’t even know the name of the servant. Their failures should serve as a warning to us to take advantage of any chance we have to serve God.