A note from Kelly King: Four years ago I was headed into what Brenda Croston describes as a Jeremiah 29:11 season—a season in a new place and a new ministry. If you’re facing 2020 with some questions about where God has you and why He has you where you are, I think you will be encouraged today.
Raise your hand if you’re heading into 2020 leading in front of a Jeremiah 29:11 Season. Hold it up high. Is it raised? I’m guessing it’s not! You are too busy asking yourself, “What is a Jeremiah 29:11 Season? And how does one lead in front of it?” You were smart to ask!
Straight from God’s heart to Jeremiah’s pen, this time of restoration and alignment reads like this. “‘For I know the plans I have for you’ — this is the LORD’s declaration — ’plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Sounds fantastic, right? Well…the season is wonderful, but leading up to and in front of it may not be so great! At least that’s true for this women’s ministry leader and her team.
On your own time, read the 29th chapter of Jeremiah. You will find the Israelites wading through 70 years of captivity after refusing to obey God’s statues and commandments. At this moment, I am leading the women’s ministry team through a similar ordeal. Hence the title, “Leading in Front of a Jeremiah 29:11 Season.” Unfortunately, we’ve unintentionally fallen into disobedience. Our Jeremiah 29:11 is coming, but while we wait, this designated time of confinement is hard! Consequently, we are not jumping for joy at the approaching season of restoration. It’s all we can do to make it moment by moment. But a time in exile will help us to avoid some of the pitfalls encountered in 2019.
At this point, I feel compelled to reveal our sin. My pride won’t let me allow your imagination to fill in the gaps with what you think landed us here. Here it is: Our team planned programs, not ministry. We fell prey to weariness in our well-doing and allowed distress to morph our ministry efforts into a people-pleasing program. God help us! And now we are stuck in the exile of consequence awaiting our Jeremiah 29:11 Season. Again I ask, “Who’s entering 2020 leading in front of a Jeremiah 29:11 Season?” Please tell me my raised hand is not alone.
What is an exiled ministry and its leader to do in the wait and weight of consequence? The answer is literally found in the verses in front of Jeremiah 29:11. It screamed joyful hope at my weightiness and lifted the team and I out of despair!
“This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon. Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Find wives for yourselves and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there, do not decrease. Pursue the well-being of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for when it thrives, you will thrive…Don’t let your prophets who are among you and your diviners deceive you…I have not sent them…When seventy years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm my promise concerning you to restore you to this place.” —Jeremiah 29:4-8,10
Let me translate:
Dear Exiled Leader,
- Make the most of your time. Even in exile, there is still work to do!
- You are going to be here for a while. Be content and hopeful!
- Plant seeds of devotion right where you are.
- Build relationships and be productive.
- Pray continuously for your well-being and the well-being of those around you.
- Seek godly counsel.
- God has not forgotten about you. At the designated time, He will put you back into your appropriate place.
- In short, bloom where you are planted!
This timeless passage is applicable to all who find themselves exiled and awaiting freedom. Life is not over! No, God was not pleased by the disobedience. But His faithfulness is unwavering. For this reason, exiled people like the Israelites, my team and I, and even you can move forward. Not only that, we can eagerly await restoration!
See you in the Jeremiah 29:11 Season, leading well!
Brenda Croston, a former educator in the public school system, serves as the Women’s Ministry leader at Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, TN and is the founder of Simple Truth Publishing. She is on the cusp of releasing her first book, The Strange Language of Ducks: A Biographical Journey Through the Female Experience. Brenda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and a Master of Education, both from Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Blessed to have met and married the love of her life, Mark, they have the pleasure of parenting four children with the added bonus of two granddaughters, London and Phenix. On a lazy day, you can find Brenda wrapped in a fuzzy blanket feeling grateful for every aspect of the life God has allowed her to live.