Christian Leadership: Principles from Jeremiah 17:10 (part 2)
Jeremiah 17:10. God tests minds.
Introduction. Through the oft-called weeping prophet Jeremiah, God warned Judah that everything in the covenant of the twelve tribes of Israel also applied to them. They were indeed special because they were the tribe(s) from which the Messiah would emerge as ruler and also because they were the preservers of the true Temple worship in Jerusalem. But they were not special enough to avoid the standards that had been set for the entire twelve tribes through both Moses (the Law covenant, Exodus) and through Joshua in Deuteronomy (blessings & curses covenant, Deuteronomy). To exit Egypt and enter the Promised Land meant upholding the directions for getting and staying there. Verse 10 tells why and how.
Vs. 10 "I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings." - NKJV
Vs. 10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind,to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” - NIV
Part 2 of 6: God Tests Minds
Second, in this passage God says He examines minds. His testing is in the form of literally "trying the reins". That's what the Leader-of-all-Leaders does. And just what is it that God is testing? He is testing for intention and comprehension. These are two sides of the same coin of trainability. Yes, leaders must be willing to adjust themselves, but just what does it take? As Christians, when God is leading you in one direction (with reins), do you pull in the opposite direction and call it flexible leadership or file it under grace where all things work together for good no matter what? Do you fight God's leading with confusion and become anger and willful when things do not go "according to your plans"? Do you just work harder, try harder, or fight harder to make things work your way at all costs?
These are issues relating to your ability to be trained and to learn. In a spiritual sense, it means trusting God's ways over our own ways and His leadership over us over our own leadership abilities. Being strong in one leadership facet does not mean that new facets should not be learned that will enhance the strengths that already exist. Natural director-type leaders must also learn on some level that outside of their comfort zone they can learn more collaborative methods that may be more effective in certain circumstances. Those whose strength is leading oneself by example may need to step outside of his or her comfort zone to learn how to be more direct on the front end and hold others accountable, too. The real issue is that God tests us to show us that our strengths as leaders is not the epitomy of all leadership.
If our true intention is to lead well and to understand how we lead best, we must experience tests that reveal our frailties and show us what we still need to learn. In a godly sense, it is being humble enough to be teachable; to learn from the Great Teacher (Rabbi) how to lead in different situations. Moses was considered the most humble of men, but not because he was weak. He was teachable; he was able to act on what he would newly learn from God, his wife, his foreign father-in-law, and from his friends. He was not too big to listen and learn. Nor should we be.
What is my plan and way to accomplish it? This is the basis of your intention.
What are others' plans and ways of accomplishing it? This speaks to our functioning level of comprehension. Do we think our insight is the ultimate decider, or can we hear from our team or from other leaders and learn from them about the situation in ways we hadn't thought of before? It is seeing our leadership role in a larger context and not just working our plan, even if we ultimately must make key decisions in a direction. Sometimes opposing plans cannot be meshed, but often the differences provide insight into a more thorough direction. Typing certain symptoms into WebMD.com may produce a list of everything from the common cold to the severest of diseases. A leader can pick one based on his or her level of insight, and be completely wrong. Getting some key tests done can better diagnose the symptom, just like testing a plan with many "advisors" is said to be wise. Why? It eliminates solutions that should not be tried, wasting time and energy. Great and godly leaders are humble enough not to waste everyone's time and energy.
Practice these two questions each day for a week and see if you discover anything new. As a leader, you must continually learn. Daily identify your plans and what you want to accomplish by them. Then ask others in your trusted circle how they might accomplish the outcomes you desire. Are they the same? Did you learn something new? Use the information! It will make you a better leader because your humbleness to examine your strategic paths from others' perspectives will ensure better execution. It will keep your mindset from focusing on others' shortcomings, engaging in out-of-balance situational angst, anda deterioration of attitude. Building an effective team will be more successful once you can understand how team solutions might engage learning. Navigating your company or job may become easier when your team has a voice in your leadership plans in a way that makes you humbly more responsive. Good luck!