If you wish to be a leader then be willing to be a servant to all but a slave to none. To be a leader is no easy task and especially to be a spiritual leader because you are handling people’s mind, body, and soul! When people tell me that they want to become a pastor, I want to encourage and yet discourage them out of it because to be a pastor is no joke as I actually denied for years before finally obeying the voice of the LORD.
I always like to say that shepherding is like being a celebrity but without any of the glory behind it because as a celebrity's life is under the microscope of the public, so is the shepherd. To bear the weight of the ministry is not for everyone but if you are called then that calling cannot be fulfilled by one person alone.
It has been said that, “it takes a village to raise a child” and the same is true for pastoring in that it takes a village to support a pastor or we will find that the pastor will bring ruin to the community because he or she carries the burden of directing the course of the ship as the captain. A captain can have a boat but will always need a crew so even though today’s passage is about spiritual leadership and you may find yourself not in such a position to be the captain but you are part of the crew of a ship that needs your active participation so that the ship doesn’t sink.
“Truly this is an affliction, and I must bear it.”-- V.19
Jeremiah is saying that he also has to bear this affliction of judgment that is coming upon Israel. He is a contrast to the other spiritual leaders of Israel that are only avoiding the problem and not taking responsibility of how far the nation has sinned against the LORD. Jeremiah is displaying true spiritual leadership and that is leadership that will always bear the responsibility of the people, doesn’t blame the people, but carries the burden no matter what.
Jeremiah doesn’t separate himself from them but actually walks with them and that is a sign of a true leader; a leader who doesn’t abandon his people but sticks with them through all situations. A leader that blames the people and never learns how to bear the burden and lead by example through tough times is not a leader to follow. BUT!!!! This doesn’t mean that our actions do not have consequences because we have a leader to put the blame on but when we see sacrificial leaders that do not run when things get bad are leaders that inspire the people to become better and walk together. Good leadership is displayed not relayed through messages and when it is displayed it will be copied.
“For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered.” --V.21
A shepherd’s main goal is to seek God’s will and direction for the community. As the captain of the ship, he or she must not simply look at every detail and put their hands on every task because when the leader tries to cover everything they give up everything because they lose sight of the bigger picture! One of my false guilts that I feel especially on the mission field is that I feel like I am not doing enough while everyone is working. So one day the guilt got the better of me and therefore I started cleaning up trash which took all of my attention but the Spirit of God rebuked me by asking, “what are you doing?” I was shocked because I was telling myself that I was “serving” but the Spirit reminded me in that moment that as I was so focused on this particular task that my vision on the overall program of the summer camp and people were not being watched so therefore I have left my post because of an insecurity. At that moment I was not serving I was self-serving and reminded myself that I have a particular position and role; that my work looks a little different then others but is important for the overall picture.
So what if you are not shepherd or top dog of an organization? Find ways to support your leaders as a way to honor God and fulfill the overall mission and purpose because when all are serving then the burden of carrying the load is not on the backs of the few. Keep your leaders accountable in that when they lead they are to lead not with their own talents or understanding but from a place of intimacy with God because the crew can work hard but if the captain guides the ship to the rocks then all are doomed.
So therefore as we are all part of this ship, let us work together, play our parts, be accountable to each other, and let the Holy Spirit lead us to where we need to go. We may not all be the captain but doesn’t mean that you are not important to the success of the voyage!