“Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’”
Jeremiah 45:5 (NIV)
One of the things I’ve experienced as an Enneagram coach is that it’s is common for people, upon reviewing their Enneagram Type, to say, “I don’t want that to be my Type!” In fact, there have been people I’ve encountered who insisted on mistyping themselves, whether consciously or unconsciously, because they were uncomfortable with embracing their true selves. This is, I have discovered, sometimes part of the self-discovery journey for people.
Every Enneagram Type has its core fear, core weakness, core desire, and core longing. These may manifest themselves differently in different individuals. As an Enneagram Four, my core desire is to be “special and unique” while my core weakness is the sin of envy. It’s easy for me to feel that others have something special or unique that I lack. Without realizing it, I sometimes feel an intense antagonism toward people I don’t even know that’s rooted in my envy. It’s taken a long time for me to recognize that in myself and address it.
Coming in at only five verses, Jeremiah 45 is one of the shorter chapters in the Great Story, though there are a handful that are even shorter. When the messages of Jeremiah were compiled into what we now know as the book of Jeremiah they were compiled thematically. The final chapters of the book are a kind of appendix. Today’s chapter is a fascinating, personal message that God gave Jeremiah for his friend and faithful scribe Baruch.
I saw shades of myself as I read Baruch’s lament in the quiet this morning. Baruch’s brother occupied an important position in the administration of King Zedekiah. Baruch was Jeremiah’s scribe, writing down the prophets dictated messages and then rewriting them all over again when the king burned the original copies in his anger. Let’s face it, the doom-and-gloom of Jeremiah’s prophetic works are bit repetitive and depressing. Add to that the fact that all of the anger, hatred, and animosity of Jeremiah trickled down to Baruch. When Jeremiah was banned from speaking in public, it was Baruch who got the job of proclaiming the words no one wanted to hear. Baruch sometimes got blamed when an accuser was afraid to confront the prophet himself.
“Why am I stuck doing this my whole life?” I can hear Baruch muttering to himself. “Why didn’t I get a cushy, high-profile job in the King’s administration like my brother?”
Jeremiah hears the muttering of his friend and scribe. God tells Jerry to tell Barry: “Don’t seek great things for yourself. Believe me, your brother’s story is not going to end well, but I will protect you and your life as the scribe of my anointed prophet.”
We don’t know what happened to Baruch’s brother Seraiah, though it was likely either captivity or death. Baruch, on the other hand, was still alive with Jeremiah in Egypt after the fall of Jerusalem.
In the quiet this morning, I confess that it’s always been easy for me to feel a certain level of discontent with my life. I was called specifically to do what I’m doing, and I trust that with all my being. Nevertheless, whenever I go through a tough stretch of the journey, my core desires and core weakness make it hard for me to stay in my lane without some dramatic and pessimistic brooding, and Wendy can tell you that I excel in this.
But that’s where God’s words to Baruch really resonate with me in all my “Fourness.” I can focus on obediently and faithfully fulfilling that to which I’ve been called, or I can waste a lot of time pining away in envy for what others have been called to do. The reality is that I have been and continue to be extremely blessed, and when I focus on that blessing, and the Source of that blessing, then I find contentment is soon to follow.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.