Jeremiah’s call to the office and ministry of prophet has much to teach us about our own calling as leaders.
The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Then said I: “Ah, Lord GOD ! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But the LORD said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD . Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, To build and to plant.” JEREMIAH 1:1-10 NKJV
Jeremiah is told that YHWH knew him before he was even born.
This teaches us that we come with a purpose and destiny to fulfil. Interestingly, Jeremiah was the one who spoke this well-known verse:
For I know the plans that I have for you, says the LORD, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. JEREMIAH 29:11 MEV
Again, we see that identity is destiny. God has a plan and purpose for your life. You need to find out what you are called to do and who you are called to lead.
Jeremiah was set apart and ordained to the ministry before he was even born. Note that he was ordained a prophet to the nations. Your leadership role is ordained to impact the nations.
As a leader, multitudes and nations are your destiny.
Jeremiah tried to talk himself out of his calling and destiny by pointing out to the Lord that he was too young. People make excuses to not step into their destiny.
Kenneth Copeland says that prisons are full of people running from the call to preach.
There are excuses people use to avoid stepping into the call of God on their lives. One is false humility, which is actually pride.
Telling God you cannot fulfill His call on your life implies that you know better than Him. That is also pride.
Jeremiah clearly did not consider himself sufficient to the task and, of course, in our own strength we are not capable of fulfilling the call of God on our lives.
Humility is saying yes to our destiny. The Lord told Jeremiah not to say he was but a youth. Leaders must understand that we have to watch our mouths because you can have what you say. Jeremiah’s confession he was just a youth undermined his own confidence and that insecurity would have been transmitted to his audience.
Paul also had to tell Timothy to let no one despise his youth. Sadly, there is a culture in some church circles that disdains certain people in ministry and that can include younger people.
People can also claim they are too old to serve God; the point is, don’t let your age or circumstances be an excuse to avoid being a leader.
Then, although not in our text here in Jeremiah, there is the opposite of using excuses to defer the call of God, which is demanding that we be given leadership before we are ready and matured for it.
The call of God is a wonderful thing but it can be wasted or thwarted by our lack of humility, faith and maturity. God gives us a measure of free will in the matter, rather than making us automatons.
Leadership is in our DNA. In that respect it is a given but it is also a decision we make.
Here is a simple truth that will turn everything you thought about leadership on its head:
It is absolutely impossible for anyone to spend serious time meditating God’s Word and in prayer and not become a leader in and by the process.
Now Jeremiah had a divine encounter and received a clear call to the ministry of prophet here. However, every believer is a minister and has the potential to lead and disciple individuals, groups and nations. In that respect, Jeremiah’s call is a prototype for New Testament saints.
Behind Jeremiah’s excuse was the fear of man. You cannot serve God effectively and be a productive leader when you are in bondage to the fear of man.
God’s answer to this situation is to put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth. This is God’s answer for every leader (see Joshua 1:8). God’s Word in your mouth is the leadership advantage.
Jesus said that when we come before kings and rulers, He would give us “a mouth and wisdom, which all your opponents will be able to neither refute nor resist.” (LUKE 21:15)
God’s Word contains wisdom. The Holy Spirit will quicken wisdom to us as leaders.
We must grasp the fundamental truth that having God’s Word in our mouths is a massive part of being a leader.
The answers to the problems of humanity are in the Word of God. His Word must be in our mouths as leaders.
Then Jeremiah is told that YHWH has set him over nations and kingdoms. This reminds us of Psalm 2 where God’s appointed King is set on the holy hill of Zion. This is a Messianic verse. As we are in Christ and Christ is in us, we are positioned with Him over earthly thrones and rulers.
Your call is to rule and lead the nations. This is done by influence, prayer and proclamation of God’s Word.
Colossians chapter 2 tells us that as we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so are we to walk in Him. We are to walk in His Lordship, exercising dominion as leaders. We are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power.
As a Christian, you reign as a king in life over all circumstances and you put down all opposition to His Kingdom rule.
Our job is to root out all that is of the kingdom of darkness and to plant the Kingdom of heaven wherever we go. As leaders we build the Kingdom.
Leaders are planet shakers, nation takers and king makers. We are not here to make up the numbers. We are not here for a picnic. We are not here to be nice and inoffensive. We are here to put the nations under His feet.
This honour have all his saints. And when you take this mission seriously, you step into your own leadership destiny.