- This is part of a series on dependence on God. -
We live in a time when all forms of external authority are being challenged in favor of subjective, inner authority. The quest for autonomy rather than accountability has become rampant. Yet the Scriptures tell us that an autonomous mindset is a mark of foolishness, since it ignores our fundamental need for dependence on God.
Jeremiah struggled with occupational hazards faced by many effective leaders. Because he knew that Israel’s behavior was destructive, he needed to function as a constant agent for change. He preached and counseled and urged his followers to turn from sin and to practice righteousness.
As he prodded, Jeremiah lived with opposition and persecution, and one wonders whether Jeremiah ever asked himself the question that confronts many leaders today: “Since change arouses opposition, why not back off and let things remain as they are?” That wouldn’t have been a good option for Jeremiah. It rarely is for a leader, because change is intrinsic to the nature of leadership. And that led to the second hazard: Since the changes were essential to Israel’s survival, he was compelled to live with the hard knocks he was taking as the agent for change.
No one has ever found a way to improve anything without changing it in some way. Our second dilemma could be phrased: “Since change arouses personal opposition, I have to steel myself against the way people feel about me. But I can’t stop caring about what they think or feel. If I do, some of those I am supposed to lead might become my ‘enemies.’” The second leadership hazard, then, is that the leader may become so hardened to opposition that he or she no longer hears or cares about the personal concerns behind it. The resentment of opposition can turn followers into opponents.
• The leader may become so hardened to opposition that he or she no longer hears or cares about the personal concerns behind it.