No one ever wants to be told that what they're doing is wrong. Especially people who believe in God. Most believers just want pastors and church leaders who encourage them and tell them that everything they do is okay. And if they desire to serve in leadership positions, they want a pastor who allows them to do whatever they want to do, however they want to do it, and never, ever tells them "No." After all, they have a personal relationship with God, right? No one in their right minds should ever tell them "No," or suggest that they do something in a slightly different way. No other person has the right to tell them "No," or that what they are doing (or want to do) is wrong. Even if it is the Pastor.
After all, they're the People of God! They've got a relationship with God! So if God thought what they were doing was wrong, he'd tell them, wouldn't he?
Perhaps not. Instead, might he send someone like Jeremiah, an older (or younger), disheveled, and seemingly insignificant person? Not someone slick and carefree, who got you to do what he wanted with his carefree manner, nor someone who gently led you to do what he wanted because you admired him. Not someone who was talented, and always said the right things, and convinced you of the rightness of his arguments with a few well-chosen words. Not someone who made you smile and laugh and desperately want to please. A person who, while he might have a few good points, is tiresome, annoying, and continually criticizing your efforts. Someone who looks back at the way things were done in the past, and doesn't want you to modernize your practices, or revolutionize your approach.
Talk about a thankless task. Talk about a dangerous job! Certainly, we can agree that the role of the prophet was usually a profitless one for the individual. Or should I say the hero? Does someone who performs a thankless task, most likely doomed to failure, someone who nobody wants to listen to, deserve to be called a hero? Or am I describing an overly precious sentimentalist, a tiresome bore, with a maladjusted, negative view on life?
If we acknowledge that Jeremiah was a hero, someone on the level of Gilgamesh or Jason of Argonauts fame, as Joseph Campbell outlined in his book Hero with a Thousand Faces, does that mean we should be more receptive to criticism, even actively seek it out? Does that mean that we should honor those who point out (what they see as) our flaws and shortcomings, and try to modify our outlooks and beliefs accordingly? Even if they're younger than us, or conduct themselves differently than we wish they would? Even if it places a damper on what we want to do, and limits our individual freedom?
Or should we just read about heroes like Jeremiah occasionally, praise them for saying the kind of things that no one ever wants to hear, and then go back to doing whatever the heck we want?