When we are just milling around…

“Only acknowledge your guilt… return, o faithless children… And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed (lead, guide) you with knowledge and understanding. And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land…” – Jeremiah 3:13-16.

It’s awfully frustrating when in spite of all of our efforts we are just milling around and not experiencing progress.  We all seek the experience that our efforts bring progress, fruits and multiplication in our life, in our work and in our nation. Although there are no recipes or guarantees for growth, but God says through Jeremiah that REPENTANCE and godly LEADERS are essentials to experience progress in any community of people. The first is a precondition in order to have the second. 

REPENTANCE is the 1st precondition of progress. 

Repentance is defined in two words in this passage: acknowledging our guilt and returning

Acknowledging means to own it. We need to own our sins. True repentance never blames others, never shifts responsibilities, never points fingers, never tries to find excuses. True repentance owns the responsibility. True repentance faces the truth about sin, doesn’t deny it, and doesn’t try to manipulate it.

Returning means to change the direction of our life. It means doing the opposite what we did before.  Changing values, customs, behaviors, relationships, mindset, words. We are turning our face to God.

Our nation (or community, or church) will not experience progress, growth, fruitfulness until we start owning our sins without blaming others for it and until we turn to the personal Christ. If we suppress the truth about our sins we remain under the wrath of God (Romans 1:18 makes it clear that not owning the truth puts us under the wrath of God). Although we don’t like to talk about the wrath of God, but it’s a reality, and in many ways it’s OUR reality! (In my next post I’ll write about that.)

GODLY LEADERS are the 2nd precondition of progress. 

People need leaders. God never intended to leave his people without shepherds. It’s His plan for His people to have shepherds and leaders.  It’s a blessing to have the right leadership and it’s a sign of repentant people. Godly leadership is a tremendous gift to people! The two characteristics we can observe in this passage about the God-given leadership are:

  • The HEART of the leader: he/she is after God’s heart. That leader is someone God delights in. Ps 78:72 says that King David was a leader according to God’s heart who led the nation with upright heart. The upright heart means pure motivation, integrity, purity, lack of selfishness,  blamelessness and fullness.
  • The SKILLS of the leader: this passage above and the Ps 78:72 indicates the following trades: leading, feeding and guiding the people with wisdom, applied knowledge, insights, by giving attention, discernment, skill in judgment, godly instructions and with intelligence.

The heart of the leader always precedes the skills of the leader.

How different everything in this world would be if our leaders would have pure hearts, pure motivation, integrity and would lead us with wisdom, discernment and godly instructions. If our leaders are not godly, but selfish, corrupt, arrogant and incompetent, than we need to start with repentance, because the repentance of a community (or a nation) is the precondition (not the guarantee) of having godly leaders. If we as individuals and as a nation are not repentant, if we are not willing to face our sins, if we suppress the truth and blame others for our sins, than we have not given a chance to change our fate.

 Progress and fruitfulness starts with our repentance. Without this we are just milling around which is sliding backwards. 

Our errors

In Ps 19 David wisely realize that no matter how hard we try, we make mistakes and errors. “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins… then I shall be blameless.” (v.13.14)

Almost every day I ask myself where did I make a mistake, how did I error, what are the things I didn’t see, missed or procrastinated. Errors, hidden mistakes, weaknesses are not intentional sins of the will. I can honestly say that in all my life since I became His follower, my intention is what David writes: “I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me…” (Ps 18:21) BUT I experience that God lets me into errors and mistakes; He lets me struggle with my weaknesses and faults that I don’t see and are hidden before my eyes. Is it possible to walk with God and still make mistakes and have errors, faults, make wrong decisions? If not than it means that whoever walks with God will never make a mistake, will never make a bad decision and will never suffer from his/her weaknesses? Did Paul or Barnabas was not walking with God when they had a conflict? Who was right? Which one made the bad decision? Our errors, mistakes, weaknesses, faults are teaching tools in Gods hand to keep us humble and to help us realize that everything on this earth is imperfect and temporary. Don’t fear to error and to make a mistake, but don’t seek to make one, either. Just accept that we all have errors and faults we don’t see.

We always seek the perfect solution, the perfect decision, the perfect situation and the perfect people. This desire of ours for perfection is a sign of being created for the image of God. He installed this desire in our soul that we would constantly face with frustration in this imperfect world and would realize that only He can fulfill this desire. David realized that even the man who delights in the Word of God can be a subject and the object of faults and errors in a fallen world and. The excessive fear of making mistakes and errors can paralyze us. As a leader this is a depressing responsibility. What percentage of my decisions that influenced families and ministries were mistakes? Many decisions’ consequences are only visible after many years or decades. Not to face with the possibility of errors and mistakes is arrogance. Not to make a decision because of the possibility of errors and mistakes is ignorance, irresponsibility and cowardice. Unfortunately, to many Christian leaders are either paralyzed in cowardice and their decisions are not reflecting any faith. Or on the other hand they are in the infallible arrogance where they vindicate spiritual authority for themselves and tossing people into irresponsible and unreasonable sacrifices. Most of the decisions carry risks and the possibility of errors. Jonathan’s attempt to attack the enemy carried on obvious opportunity to fail. But if he was not willing to take the risk and doesn’t take the ownership over a possible error, than he would have never win the battle. (1Sam 14:6)

Our hidden weaknesses can be obvious for others. Arrogance and pride can hinder us from accepting others to speak into our weaknesses. Only the humble can remain blameless – says David in the Psalm quoted above. The anti-doze of errors is not perfection or perfect decisions, but humility. Humility realizes our own limitations and our dependence on God and others.

Who can discern his errors? Who can see his/her own weaknesses and mistakes?  “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2Cor 12:10.