August 25, 2013 Jeremiah 1:4-10
A perennial debate takes place about the nature of leadership and who leaders are. Are leaders born or made? Some folks seem to ooze charisma and likability so that everyone is drawn to them. They are the ones who are elected Most Likely to Succeed and who seem destined for the fast track to the top. There are others who read books on leadership and know all the principles but have a hard time implementing them, though they try and are becoming more effective in their leadership.
Some folks gladly embrace the challenges set before them while others do so reluctantly. Think of George Bailey in the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life. He had great dreams for all the great accomplishments he would make in life. It turned out, though, his greatest accomplishment and most significant feat was keeping Bedford Falls from turning into Potterville—not the path he would have chosen but that led him to great leadership and significance.
Jeremiah would be classified as a reluctant leader. As a young man, he may have had his dreams of what he wanted to with his life, yet uncertain about how to serve God.
God Has a Plan
It is striking how often when God is looking for a leader He goes after someone who is not looking for the job. Moses had awesome credentials, but he was out in the desert when the burning bush appeared. Isaiah was going about his daily routine when he was overwhelmed by his vision of God’s holiness, and God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. I set you apart. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah may not have known what his future held, but God did. God knew every ounce and fiber of his being, strengths, weakness, warts and all.
God Has Enabling Power
Jeremiah’s first reaction was the same as anyone who is called to a great task: “Who, me? I’m unable. I’m unworthy.” If one is called to be a spokesperson for God, one would assume a major criterion for the job would be speaking ability. You would presume God’s spokesperson would be someone with life experience that lends him or her credibility. Jeremiah protested, “I”m only a youth; I don’t know how to speak.
God said to him, “It’s not about you; it’s about Me. Just go, and I will put My words in your mouth. Go where I send you, say what I tell you to say, and I will be with you.
God Has the Power to Use Our Service as He Will
As God laid out the job to which Jeremiah was called, some of the aspects of the job were very attractive, others not so much. He said, “I’m sending you to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” No preacher relishes a call to uproot and tear down. It’s a special calling to go into a place with the call to uproot a power structure or tear down ungodly practices. It takes a unique temperament to accept a call to destroy and overthrow. Those are things that have to be done that not everyone will understand. What that leads to, however, is the ability to build and plant something new.
Preachers don’t want a reputation as someone who tears down or destroys and overthrows. We relish the opportunity to build and plant. Sometimes, you have to have one before you can have the other. Jeremiah’s reputation wasn’t damaged at all, and his future wasn’t jeopardized by those times when he tore down or uprooted. He didn’t get a greater ministry if he built or planted. He said to the Lord, “Here I am, your reluctant servant,” and his life is still having impact 2,500 years later.