In December and January we examined six leadership
lessons to be learned from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. This month
we learn three lessons from the prophet, Jeremiah. Jeremiah is often
remembered as a prophet of doom and is referred to as “the weeping
prophet,” but he was also a prophet who demonstrated empathy for the
people, exposed the misuse of power by the mighty, and extended hope to
the people. We can learn valuable leadership lessons from Jeremiah.
Empathy. Jeremiah demonstrated empathy with
the people and felt their hurt. (see: 4:19; 8:18) Once people assume a
role of leadership, they must be careful not to separate themselves from
their followers; they must remember what it was like before they assumed
leadership. They must be willing to come down from their “ivory towers”
and walk with the people. Many leaders fail, because they lose touch
with the people. They are unable to feel their pain or share their
joys. Leaders must empathize with followers.
Power. The book of Jeremiah tells how much
was expected from the kings of Judah, but they misused their power;
consequently, they failed and both they and their followers paid the
price. (see: chapters 22-23; especially 23:20) Abraham Lincoln said, “If
you want to test a man’s character – give him power.” Napoleon could not
acquire enough power. He said, “Power is my mistress.” Actually, power
also became his master, and Napoleon became a prime example of how
“power corrupts.” Leaders must use power wisely, knowing much is
expected of them.
Hope. Jeremiah extended the hope God
revealed to him. In his book of Lamentations, Jeremiah extended hope to
the people. (Lamentations 3:19-25). My boss, leader, and friend, Dr.
Jack Hawkins, Jr., the Chancellor of Troy University says “Leadership is
the management of hope.” Leaders simply must extend hope to their
followers and they must effectively manage that hope.
Show empathy, Use power wisely, and manage
hope—three things leaders must do to lead effectively.