3 Leadership Lessons from Jeremiah

One of my favorite things to study and talk about is leadership. That is why part of my blog is dedicated to the category of leadership. As I read through Scripture, I try to look for Biblical leadership principles that I can apply to my own life and share with others. Recently I wrote a blog called “3 Leadership Lessons from Jude” that received great feedback. I recently started studying the book of Jeremiah and right from the start I saw a few leadership lessons I wanted to share.

Before I jump into them let’s talk a little about the person of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet God called to announce judgement on God’s people because of their sin and disobedience. Jeremiah is often called the “weeping prophet” (Jer. 9:1; 13:17). For more than 40 years Jeremiah faithfully proclaimed God’s judgement. Jeremiah was truly a great leader and it would do leaders today to follow his example. With all that being said, here are three leadership lessons from the opening verses of the book of Jeremiah:

1. God has called leaders before they were even born. In verse 5 of chapter 1, it says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” Before leaders are even born, God has already called them to lead. As a leader, it is encouraging to know God not only has chosen me to be one of His elect, but has chosen me to be a leader! If you are in leadership and you struggle with wondering if your actually called to do what you’re doing, remember God knew you and called you before you were even born into this world!

2. God usually calls younger people to be leaders. I am not suggesting that God does not call older people to lead, but what I am saying is that most great leaders are called at a younger age. We see this in verses 6-7 of Jeremiah 1. God calls Jeremiah and what is Jeremiah’s response? He says, “I am only a youth.” According to the Ryrie Study Bible, Jeremiah was likely in his late teens or early twenties at this time! That should encourage you younger leaders! In the following verse, God tells Jeremiah not to respond that way because He is with him! Throughout the Bible we see that God usually calls younger people to be great leaders. In his book Raising the Bar, Alvin Reid points out two important things that are helpful to mention here. First, Old Testament examples such as Joseph, Samuel, and David show us that God calls and uses younger people to be leaders. Second, Reid points out that Jonathan Edwards, in his treatise called Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England, says, “The work has been chiefly amongst the young…” Did you catch that? Edwards clearly says that the First Great Awakening was carried out by mostly the young! Reid says it best, “When God begins a new movement of His Spirit, He often uses young people at the heart if it.” One more example of God calling the young. It is likely that the disciples where just teenagers as they walked with Jesus and went into their ministry of changing the world. There is too much to say about that here, so click here to read a post that will explain why many believe the disciples were just teenagers.

3. God will equip those that He calls. Often leaders don’t feel equipped or qualified to do what God called them to do. It is likely that is what Jeremiah felt when he told God, “I am only a youth.” God responds to that and reminds Jeremiah, and us, that He equips those He calls. In verses 7b-9 we see that God tells Jeremiah He will send him, He will be with him, and He will put His Words in his mouth. See, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called! None of us are equipped to do anything for God, but when God calls us He gives us everything we need to carry out what He has called us to do. When I worked at Skyview Ranch the camp director said this, “God will never lead you where He will not sustain you.” Leader, God has called you to lead and He will sustain and equip you to do exactly what He wants you to do!

I hope these lessons are encouraging to you. Leadership is hard and down right discouraging at times, but God has called us to lead for a reason. Allow these lessons from His Word to encourage you today!

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3 Leadership Lessons from Jude

Recently I studied through the book of Jude in my personal devotions. Jude, one of the smallest books in the Bible, often gets overlooked, but it is amazing what you find in this little book if you take the time to read through it. The theme of Jude is best stated in the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible. The HCST Study Bible says, “Jude wrote to urge believers to contend for their faith.” It also says, “Jude sought to protect Christian truth and strongly opposed heretics who threatened the faith.”  During the time of Jude writing this book, false teachers crept into the church and was distorting Christian truth as well as denying Christ (Jude 4).

As I read through Jude I started to see a few very important leadership lessons that should help us as church leaders today. I want to share the main three that I saw and hope they encourage you to be a better and more Biblical leader as they did for me.

1. Humility is the key to being a good leader. in the opening verse of Jude, Jude introduces himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” What is so interesting about this is the fact that Jude could have simply introduced himself as a brother of Jesus. We know he could have done this because he calls himself a brother of James who was a brother of Jesus as well (Mark 6:3). By introducing himself as a servant of Christ rather than a brother of Christ, Jude showed being humble and showing humility was more important than his position. In leadership, we often think confidence and often times pride is the way to go, but true leadership happens when you are humble and realize you’re a servant of the one true leader, Christ!

2. It’s easy to look like a good leader, but not actually be a good leader. If you look at verses 12-13 in the book of Jude, you see that the false teachers were involving themselves within the church and it’s activities. Not only involving themselves, but actually taking leadership positions. In these verses Jude says that even though they are in the position of leaders, they really were not true leaders. Verse 12 says, “…shepherds feeding themselves, waterless clouds…fruitless trees…” It’s possible to be in a leadership position and not truly be a leader. A church leader must feed other as well as themselves, they must bear fruit as well as every other Christian must, and they should be serving others. This section of Jude is extremely scaring to me because I never want to be found as a leader who was just in the position, but not actually being a true leader.

3. A good leader must build himself up spiritually as well as building others up spiritually. One hard part of being a church leader is learning how to growing spiritually yourself as well as helping others grow spiritually as well. If we spend all of our time growing ourselves, we will neglect the growth of others. If we spend all of our time growing others, we will neglect growing ourselves. It’s a delicate balance we all must figure out. In verse 20, Jude turns his attention away from dealing with false teachers to dealing with how believers should live in response to everything he has already said. Jude tells believers to build themselves up in their faith, pray in the Spirit, keep themselves in the love of God, and wait for the Lord’s return. All of these things carry the idea of believers giving themselves to spiritual disciplines and living out a consistently walk with God. It is important for leaders to dedicate themselves to their own spiritual growth before others. But Jude then makes it clear you must focus on others spiritual needs as well. He says we must have mercy on those doubting, witness to others to save them from eternal separation from God in hell, and reach out to those who are extremely messed up in sin while being careful. Biblical leaders must serve others spiritually while they themselves are growing spiritually.

I hope these simple leadership lessons help you become a better leader. The church today is in need of good, Biblical leaders and I hope we look at Scripture to find out how we can be those kind of leaders. Leadership is one of my passions and I recently wrote a blog called “Why I am Studying Leadership in Seminary” that is worth taking a look at.