When the question is asked of Christians about treasured verses of Scripture, there are some that come up on a frequent basis. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of these; “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I wonder sometimes when people quote this verse whether they just grab hold of the sentiment, or whether they truly understand it through the life of Jeremiah the prophet.
At the Global Leadership Summit this year, Bill Hybels spoke about Jeremiah’s tough calling. For those who are called to leadership, there is probably a desire that lurks under the surface that people will recognize the good job that we do and affirm us and occasionally applaud us, or even reward us for the success that is being achieved. But this wasn’t Jeremiah’s story.
Jeremiah came from a land owning family and his early life was probably one of favour and ease. But that all changed when God called him as his prophet to reveal the sins of the people and explain the reason for the impending disaster that was to by destruction by the Babylonian army, followed by captivity. His was a tough calling. God said to him, “Attack you they will, overcome you they can’t.” He was attacked by his own brothers, beaten and put into the stocks by a priest and false prophet, imprisoned by the king, threatened with death and thrown in a cistern by Judah’s officials. This isn’t a role description too many of us would put our hands up for.
If we read on in Jeremiah 29, just two verses later, God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” The challenge for us as leaders, as it was for Jeremiah, is to look beyond our circumstances, to the promises that God has given us. The promise that he gave Jeremiah was not one of material gain, or fame or even personal security. The promise to Jeremiah, and the promise to us, is that we will find God. Our reward is not something, but someone.
So can I encourage those who are either experiencing a tough calling, or sense God’s leading into a tough ministry, that his promise to Jeremiah is a promise for us as well – we will find God there.
If you will miss out on attending the GLS this year, then you can still be inspired and challenged through the Team Edition DVD. It will be available for purchase at Willow Creek from early November.