Jeremiah 30:21 Their leader will be one of their own;
their ruler will arise from among them.
I will bring him near and he will come close to me,
for who is he who will devote himself
to be close to me?’ declares the Lord.
Leaders are important, as history shows. Things would be very different today had it not been for Churchill, Washington, Lincoln, and many, many others. Many aspire to leadership, and some have it thrust upon them. Numbers of politicians have claimed to be the sort of leader described here, a “man of the people” who is close to God, but few actually fit the description. The rhetorical question at the end of this verse is very telling. The NIV renders it as “Who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?” The Japanese is actually even stronger: “Who is he who will risk his life to draw close to me?” We don’t see many politicians risking their lives to draw close to God! The thing is, there are such people, and we need to ask God to raise them up. Actually, our own pursuit of God should be that intense, and if God chooses to use us, then so be it, for His glory. God does give some people a desire to lead, but if the desire for the position of leadership is primary, that person is actually disqualified. God has to come first! True leaders see the need for leadership and rise to the occasion, not because of wanting to be first but because of a love for God and for the people they lead. Numbers of politicians claim that motivation, but the fact that God expresses it here as a question should make us question such claims. As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Jesus Himself told us clearly to evaluate people on the basis of the fruit of their lives. (Matthew 7:15-20)
I have had a very ambivalent relationship to leading. I am very aware of the extra responsibility born by leaders, and I haven’t wanted to bear that. At the same time, I have stepped in at times when I have seen a leadership vacuum, with varying results. I don’t consider myself to be a very good leader, because I’m not good at delegation. However, I must not shy away from leading because of that. After all, Moses was very poor at delegation! Thinking about leadership at 73 seems a bit ironic, because I don’t seem to have any ambition left. However, that could be my highest qualification! I am increasingly aware of my own faults and weaknesses, which is actually a good thing, because it forces me to draw closer to God. Whether He chooses to use me in leadership or not, that needs to be my clearest and greatest goal. I don’t feel I’ve been in a place of risking my life to draw close to God, but that needs to be my heart, whatever specific functions God has for me.
Father, this is uncomfortable territory for me. I don’t really want to be a leader! At the same time, I certainly want to lead people closer to You, into the intimate fellowship that I know You desire with Your children. Help me keep my priorities straight, that is, to follow Your priorities for me, so that I will indeed draw closer to You as Your will is done in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!