The Jeremiah Complex: Leading in your Youth
As young ministers, we can easily discredit ourselves and cut short the grace of God upon our lives if we aren’t careful to esteem ourselves as He does. I call this the Jeremiah Complex.
Jeremiah was a prophet in the Old Testament who the Lord called to warn Judah of their sins, and to detail their impending captivity by the Babylonians – a tough task! In typical youthful fashion, Jeremiah complains to God and says, “Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” Have you ever uttered such?
“Lord, I can’t. I’m too young.”
“God if I were a bit older, perhaps they’ll listen.”
“I can’t speak to her, she’s older than me!”
The truth is, as men and women given a heart to lead, we battle with three voices; the voice of the Lord, the voice of the enemy and the voice within.
We wrongly battle against God’s voice when we tell Him, contrary to His Word, what we can and cannot do. We place limitations on ourselves that God has not sanctioned. The Jeremiah Complex will have you in dialogue with God about why you are not fit for the task, forgetting that He knows your capacity better than you do. You forget that He’s not sending you out in your own strength; He promises to go before you and make your paths straight.
We also battle against the voice of the enemy. This voice can sometimes masquerade as an ally, but it is the amplified, perverted voice of our fears and perceived inadequacies. This voice is designed to keep us passive and silent. We lose this battle when we believe anything contrary to the Word of the Lord. We lose this battle when we allow our age to stop us from declaring the mind of Christ, or walking in His truth.
Lastly, we battle with our own voice. Jeremiah said, “I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” He was indeed young, but his perception was wrong. He allowed his insecurities to hold him captive. The very tool the Lord required to use – his voice – became the tool that Insecurity told him did not work. We lose this battle when we don’t agree with God in our perceptions; when we are more easily led by our own emotions and desires than God’s.
The response of God to Jeremiah is so profound. God says to him:
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth, for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:7-8)
God responds to Jeremiah’s fears by showing Jeremiah His own purpose and His own plans. God also shows him that he’s protected in the will of God.
Perhaps the thing that hinders you from walking in the call of God isn’t your age. Maybe yours is race, gender or background? Whatever it may be, God’s message to you is clear. He says, “For every vision I give you, I will make provision.” God is not afraid of using the underdog. God is not afraid of using the least likely. God is not afraid of using young people, older people, women, or any other group that society deems to be inferior. If He has called you out for the task, He will guide you, give you the words, wisdom and strength – and most of all, He will protect you.
God’s words over Jeremiah brought forth confidence and strength. He did everything that God required, and the Lord kept him. Let us lay our excuses and insecurities at the feet of God, and take up His words over us. What has God laid on your heart? Walk in it.
“For see, today I have made you strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall.
You will stand against the whole land – the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah.
They will fight you, but they will fail.
For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Ify Alexis Lee