Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Changing Old Forms and Traditions

On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.  After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.  And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed.  They are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs.   Act 21:18-21 ESV

Recently, while doing a study through the book of Acts on the ministry forms, I was struck by the above passage.  Paul had just completed his third missionary tour and was now back in Jerusalem.  He was updating the leadership about his ministry among the Gentiles.  The leaders affirmed Paul’s work among the Gentiles and also testified to God’s amazing work among the Jews, having seen thousands put their trust in Christ as their Messiah.

But then the elders make an interesting request.  They asked Paul to join in a vow along with four others as proof that he still lives in observance to the law of Moses (see Acts 21:22-24).  And Paul submits himself to this request, joins the four in their purification rights and presents himself in the temple accordingly.

Some observations:

  1. This incident occurs at least 20 years after Paul’s conversion.  Note that the testimony of the elders is that the Jewish converts are ‘very zealous for the law.’  That is, the Jewish background believers were still following OT Jewish customs and forms.  They had become even more zealous of their Jewish traditions and the OT ceremonial law.
  2. Secondly, the elders concern was that Paul’s appearance among these zealous Jewish believers would be cause for a possible conflict.  Note that it was not the unbelieving Jews who were their concern, but rather the Jewish believers.
  3. It was accepted that Gentile converts were not to follow OT Jewish forms and traditions in their new-found faith, other than the few requests established by the leaders mentioned in Acts 15:22ff after Paul’s first missionary tour.
  4. The elders also assumed that Paul was teaching the Jewish background converts who lived among the Gentiles to leave their Jewish customs and traditions and embrace new forms of worship and lifestyle (Acts 10:21).  He did not refute this claim.

It seems that the emergent Church took many years to leave behind their Jewish forms, traditions, and customs and fully establish ‘new wine in new wineskins’ (see Matthew 9:17).  As more and more Gentile believers emerged, new forms also emerged with them.  Gradually, Jewish forms and customs were left behind.  But it was a long process with many challenges.

Bringing significant change to long-held forms or traditions can be arduous and require much perseverance.  Don’t be discouraged by the length of the change process.  “Mile by mile, it’s a trial; but inch by inch, it’s a cinch!”

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 7

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they seek to navigate the many issues of our day.

But, what does godly wisdom look like?  James describes seven characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The seventh and final manifestation of godly wisdom is that it is sincere.

This word, ‘sincere,’ means “without hypocrisy.”  Godly, wise leaders walk the talk.  They never say, “Do what I say, not what I do.”  They are authentic and genuine in all their ways.  They are always seeking to model for others what they want them to be and do.

This kind of wisdom is not duplicitous either in word of deed.  There is consistent integrity of words and deeds in every situation.  Jesus’ enemies used His integrity to try and trap Him, “They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity.  You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (see Luke 20:20ff  ESV)

What an amazing testimony to Jesus’ integrity in that His enemies tried to use it against Him!  If you had enemies, would they choose your integrity as a tool to oppose you?

By reflecting upon these seven manifestations of godly wisdom in the life of an individual, we can know if we are making progress in our pursuit.  While we may never arrive, there is always more growth and maturity needed, we can note progress.

These qualities are mile-markers that enable us to see increments of change as we seek to grow in wisdom and help others do the same.  Are you on the journey of intentionally pursuing godly wisdom for your life and leadership?  Are you making progress?

 

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 6

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they seek to navigate the many challenges of our day.

But, what does godly wisdom look like?  James describes seven characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

Sixth, we see that God’s wisdom is impartial.

Leaders with godly wisdom do not show favoritism to any, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, or socioeconomic class.  This wisdom manifests as one who can be trusted as fair and just in all circumstances.  And this impartiality is consistently demonstrated in all contexts of a Kingdom leader’s life and leadership.

The following passages testify to God’s impartiality and that we, His servants, are to demonstrate the same.

  1. You shall do no injustice in court.  You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.   Leviticus 19:15  ESV
  2. For God shows no partiality.   Romans 2:11  ESV
  3. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.      1 Timothy 5:21  ESV
  4. My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? … If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.                   James 2:1-9  ESV

Kingdom leaders who lead with godly wisdom show no favoritism or partiality.

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 5

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from above.  Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they face the many challenges of our fast-paced world.

But, what does godly wisdom look like?  James describes seven characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The fifth manifestation of God’s wisdom is that it’s full of mercy and good fruit.

Leaders with this wisdom have compassion for the hurting and seek to help others in their difficulties.  As they move through life and leadership they are sensitive to those around them who are hurting and, when appropriate, move to bring healing.  They model the life Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan.  (see Luke 10:25-37)

This type of wisdom loves others unconditionally as God loves us.  Wise leaders are able to separate the person from their performance.  They love others just as they are and they seek to enable and empower them to reach their potential for greatest contribution in the Kingdom.

Godly wisdom does what is right, not what is culturally expected or expedient.  They do not seek to offend, being very aware of possible cultural offenses, trying to minimize them so that the only stumbling block is Jesus and not the messenger.  Wise Kingdom leaders courageously speak the truth in love and entrust themselves and their leadership to God for the outcomes.

Wise Kingdom leaders live a life that is blameless and do not give others opportunity for slandering the King or His Kingdom.  They seek to live a life that is above reproach.  (see Titus 1:6-7)

Wise leaders are full of mercy and bear godly fruit.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…   John 15:16   ESV

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 4

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they seek to navigate the many challenges of our day.

But, what does godly wisdom look like?  James describes seven characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The fourth manifestation of godly wisdom is that it is submissive.

Those Kingdom leaders with godly wisdom submit themselves to God as Lord in all areas of life and leadership.  The root of their submission is found in their humility – knowing that they are His Creation and they are given leadership responsibility as a stewardship to advance His purposes and for His glory.

Godly, wise leaders submit to the authority of God’s Word.  In our post-modern world we are told that all truth is relative and that there is no absolute truth.  Kingdom leaders reject this philosophy and base their leadership on the unchanging, final authority of the Bible.

God’s wisdom submits to the authority of earthly governments and spiritual leaders place over us, recognizing that they are established by God.  We submit to those leaders for they are appointed by God to watch over us and care for us (see Hebrews 13:17).  Note how Jesus modeled this from an early age regarding His submission to His parents.  “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.”   Luke 2:51  ESV

Submission does not mean we have to do whatever is dictated.  Certainly we can appeal to an authority over us (see Daniel’s appeal when asked to violate his convictions).  But, in our submission, having made our appeal, we submit to the authority of our leaders and entrust ourselves to God for the outcome.  Godly leaders do not lead rebellions or insurrections.

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.  Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.   1 Peter 5:5-7   ESV

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 3

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

Leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders especially need wisdom as they seek to navigate the social and legal ‘land mines’ of our day.

James describes seven characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to measure your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The third manifestation of godly wisdom is that it’s considerate.

Godly wisdom in Kingdom leaders shows itself as kindness and gentleness when dealing with others.  These leaders seek to honor Christ with their leadership and therefore are trying to model a life of love as Christ loves them.  “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness…”  2 Timothy 2:24-25  ESV

Godly wisdom is not harsh or mean-spirited.  It does not seek vengeance or pay back.  It does not flaunt its rights, but rather yields its rights to others, sacrificially serving at one’s own expense.

It is sensitive to its own weaknesses when seeing weaknesses in others.  These leaders recognize their own weaknesses and that tempers and sensitizes them to not criticize others.  “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”   Luke 6:42  ESV

It is not judgmental and seeks the best for others.  In personnel decision-making they consider both what is best for the work and what is best for the person.  If there is any doubt between the two, what is best for the individual rules, for they trust God to provide whatever resources are needed to accomplish His work.

Wisdom seeks to place others before self in all areas of life and service.  It is not self-promoting. These godly, wise Kingdom leaders give credit to others for work done.  They continually push the spotlight of attention onto others instead of themselves.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.   Titus 3:1-2   NIV  1984

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 2

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they seek to navigate the social and legal challenges of our day.

But, what does godly wisdom look like?  James describes seven characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The second manifestation of godly wisdom is that it’s peace-loving.

Wise leaders build harmony as they lead, not divisions, factions, or parties.  They seek unity, not uniformity.  They seek to create oneness, for they recognize that a tactic of our adversary is to divide and conquer.

Paul addresses this sectarianism in Corinth where he chastises those who claim allegiance to Christ.  “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.  And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.  For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?  For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?”  1 Corinthians 3:1-4  ESV

This demonstration of wisdom seeks to live at peace with everyone, if possible (see Romans 12:18).  Wise Kingdom leaders are not looking for a fight or are they pugilistic in attitude.  But, note that this passage does not say that wise leaders are conflict avoiders.  It does say, do what you can to live at peace with all.  Then, having done all you can to live at peace, stand and face the threat, trusting Him to empower you and work out the consequences for His glory.  “But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”  Isaiah 50:7  ESV

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.   2 Thessalonians 3:16  ESV

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 1

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

The need for wisdom in leadership is an easy case to make, especially for any who have tried to lead.  The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they seek to navigate the pitfalls and landmines of both the social and legal challenges of our day.

But, what does godly wisdom look like?  James describes seven manifestations or characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The first manifestation of godly wisdom is that it’s pure.  By pure we mean clean, uncontaminated, undefiled, not polluted, and holy.  This godly wisdom does not co-mingle the world’s wisdom with God’s wisdom. There is no duplicity in our leadership, leaving no room for accusations of false motives or deception.  We are to be ‘above reproach.”  (see 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:5-7)

Wisdom from above discerns the ways of the world from the ways of God.  Godly wisdom seeks to please the Lord in accomplishing His purposes for and through us in ways that are pleasing to Him.  At times these ways may run counter to the social or political tide of our days.  We must lead courageously during these times, without compromise, but also without a ‘martyr syndrome’ of seeking trouble just for the sake of our over-inflated egos.  We are to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (see Matthew 10:16)

Godly wisdom uses the Word of God as the unchanging standard — the rule for life and leadership and will submit itself to its authority.  The Bible is not seen as ‘a source’ for guidance, but rather, ‘the final source’ for instruction on how we must lead.  With today’s prevailing post-modern thought that there is no absolute truth, the Kingdom leader must boldly declare that there is one unchanging measuring rod, God’s Word.  Kingdom leaders who are wise will both know His Word and apply it in their lives first and then as they lead others.

Purity in leadership – it’s first on the list of characteristics for those who would seek to be Kingdom leaders.  Is it first on your list?

In Search of a Balanced Life

Did Jesus live a balanced life?  The following passages would seem to shed some light on the answer to this question.

And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him,for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.     Mark 3:9-10 ESV

Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat.  And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”     Mark 3:20-21   ESV

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.     Mark 6:31-32   ESV

As Jesus’ popularity grew, crowds gathered to hear him teach and to seek healing from various diseases – both physical and spiritual.  Such were the numbers and the daily pressures that the Twelve were no doubt used for ‘crowd control.’  Jesus had to remind the Twelve that as they kept many adults from pressing in to try and touch Him, they were not to keep back the little children (see Mark 10:13-14).

To the outside observers, including Jesus’ immediate family members, at the time, He seemed to be ‘out of his mind.’  But, He was carrying out the mission for which He came.  It was just that they did not understand Him at that time.  We see later in Acts 1:14 that they came to believe and understand more completely.  He said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”  John 5:17  ESV

In the midst of the incredible demands upon Him, Jesus sought to lead the Twelve to periods of rest and solitude.  He knew the importance of ministry and serving from an overflow and reserve.  Yet, those ideals were often met with the pressing needs of others seeking His help.  It’s no wonder that He could fall sound asleep on a boat in the midst of a storm on the lake (Mark 4:37ff) or that the disciples had a hard time keeping their eyes open when asked to pray late into the night (Mark 14:37ff).

So, did Jesus live a balanced life?  It depends on what you mean by ‘balanced.”  Did Jesus have times of intense schedule and pressing demands?  Yes.  Did He appear to others to be ‘out of balance’ at times?  Yes.  But, He also sought to model for others one who worked hard and yet, took time away for rest.

Paul reminds us, “… I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”   Ephesians 4:1   ESV

Doing Well

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.     James 2:8   ESV

Last week we looked at Doing Good – especially in the context of Jesus who “went about doing good” (see Acts 10:38).  Doing good is ‘what’ Jesus did.  James draws our attention to the ‘how’ of that which we do.  We can know if we are doing well.

James sets the context for us by addressing the ‘second commandment’ (see Matthew 22:36-40) that sums up all the Law and the Prophets.  The greatest commandment is to love God with all that we have.  The second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself.  James refers to this as the “royal law of Scripture.”  Quite the label, for sure!

Note that we will fulfill this ‘royal law’ if we actually do it.  It’s not enough just to know it, give it intellectual assent and agree with it.  We have to put it into practice.  We are to love others as we love ourselves.  In so doing, we are doing well.  So, what does this look like for Kingdom leaders?

First, it means that our leadership is not focused upon ourselves, but upon others.  It’s not about ‘me, the leader’ but rather, it’s about those we lead.  Yes, I love myself.  But, that is the standard from which to measure my love for others.  To paraphrase the Golden Rule, we lead others the way we would like to be led” (see Luke 6:31).

Secondly, we use our leadership authority and influence to serve and help others in the midst of accomplishing our mission.  Yes, finishing the task is important.  But, we don’t do so at the expense of those we lead or serve with.  Those we lead are not a means to an end (mission accomplished), but they too are an end – in loving and serving them as we complete mission together.

If we lead others well – loving them as we love ourselves – and if we lead others the way we would want someone to lead us – if we use our leadership to serve, not use those we lead, then we are doing well.

As you go about doing good, are you doing well?

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: