“What man is wise enough to understand this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it?”

Jeremiah 9:12

Friday, 7 August 2020

Jeremiah 9:9-19

Good leaders are wise enough to see when change and innovation are necessary. They see the gap – of how things are and how they should be – and they seek to close that gap. Deep-seated values guide them. They are willing to make systemic changes to uplift the lives of all.

Jeremiah was a passionate prophet. His straight talk to the leadership of his time brought him great personal suffering. But he was devoted to his people and would not keep quiet when leaders deliberately misled their followers. Jeremiah, despite widespread opposition, endures and is faithful to his God-given mission. The prophet’s commitment and integrity stand in stark contrast to the leaders of his time.

Jeremiah shows that, sometimes, some of the most important change and innovation come about when leaders are willing to listen. An effective leader is one who sees the gaps and wisely works on the things that need to change. Good leaders are called to confront the gaps into which many fall and feel abandoned. Poverty is one such gap.

Confrontation is one of the toughest tasks of leadership. It is also one of the most courageous and important things a leader can do. Jeremiah is not interested in leaders who speak politically correct words. He is more concerned about their ability to act and bring about the structural change needed so that all are treated with dignity.

Leaders who are committed to building a better organisation or nation are those who have a compelling sense of what is right. Deep-seated values guide them. Their principles are at the core of their decision-making process. They are willing to name what is not working, have difficult conversations and then make tough decisions. They do not shy away from the problems. They are faithful to the people they lead – not their own aspirations or political egos.

Am I able to courageously name the places where change and innovation are necessary – in my own life and leadership? What values guide my decision-making process?

Lord God,
Today we ask for wisdom, a wisdom that enables us to see the gaps and bring about the change this is needed so that all your people are cared for. Give us insight to name what doesn’t work and courage to act.

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
See more from Russell Pollitt SJ
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