Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

The Desire for Recognition

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.
                   Theme Song from TV Show – Cheers

Jonathan had an idea.  “Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.”  (1 Samuel 14:6-7)  And the Lord honored their faith and zeal and delivered all of Israel a great victory that day.

Today, when we recount this story and tell of God’s greatness, we remember Jonathan, son of Saul, as the one who God used.  But we do not know the name of his armor bearer.  That man joined right along with Jonathan, risking his own life, stepping out in faith, and fighting right alongside Jonathan.  Jonathan got the recognition, his armor bearer did not.

When God punished the sin of the world by bringing a flood upon the face of the earth, He spoke to Noah about saving his family and the animals.  Over one-hundred years later God shut up Noah and his family into the ark – Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives.  Today, we recall the story of Noah and the ark, but we do not know the name of Mrs. Noah.  She too entered the ark along with her three daughters-in-law and the world was repopulated by them, but we do not know their names.

In 1 Kings 13 we have two men used of God to further his purposes during the reign of King Jeroboam – ‘the man of God from Judah’ and the ‘old prophet.’  Both were used of God during their days to speak the truth to the king, but we do not know their names.  They died and were buried together, unknown to many except God Himself.

How important is it that you are recognized – that everybody knows your name?  Many will serve God in obscurity, never being recognized for their faithful service, not seen as important or having the spotlight upon them.  But God does not forget.  He rewards those who serve Him.  There will be a time when all are recognized for their contribution and labor.  God knows your name!!!

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord , the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”  Isaiah 45:3 NIV 84

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

Recording Your Personal Journey

These are the stages of the people of Israel, when they went out of the land of Egypt by their companies under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Moses wrote down their starting places, stage by stage, by command of the LORD, and these are their stages according to their starting places.     Numbers 33:1-2  ESV

Note that the Lord wanted the forty-year journey from Egypt to the edge of the Promised Land recorded.  It was ‘by the command of the Lord’ that Moses wrote the many stages of Israel’s Exodus and their wanderings in the desert, finally arriving at the east side of the Jordan River. God thought it important to write down the history they were making.

Moses recorded the locations of their journey as well as the significant events.  He wrote about passing through the Red Sea, camping at a beautiful oasis of multiple springs and palm trees, their lack of water at another location, the death of his brother, Aaron and the reactions of neighboring kings.  All these details were saved as a reflection on their history and were life messages to be passed on to future generations.

Each of us is also on a journey that the Lord is directing.  Too often we fail to appreciate what He has done or is doing in and through us.  We are building life messages as we go that God intends for us to share with others.  But too often we fail to record the details and over time they are forgotten.

Are you recording the details of your journey for your own self-reflection, your family and those you serve ?  The journey the Lord has you on and His ministry to you is intended to platform you to minister to others.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.   2 Corinthians 1:3-4  ESV

Pay attention to the paths you walk.  Record your journey and the lessons learned.  Expect God to give you opportunity to share what He has taught you with others who are on similar journeys.  Steward your life messages!!!

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

Developing Depth in the Word

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15  ESV

A key to depth in the Word of God from which to lead and serve others is our perspective.  Some who are immature and impatient want to develop depth in the Scriptures quickly.  But the wise have a long-term view, knowing that this depth will be created over a lifetime of reading, studying and meditating on the Scriptures.

This desired depth will come through a disciplined life as modeled by Ezra – For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.  Ezra 7:10  ESV

At one time I had a lifetime goal to trying to develop depth in the entire Bible – all sixty-six books!  But a conversation with Dr. Bobby Clinton helped change that goal to what he calls a Core Set.  Rather than shallowly addressing the entire book, better to concentrate in a few sections over a lifetime, while maintaining familiarity with the whole.

Because we minister to others from our personal depth in the Scriptures, the more influence a Kingdom leader has, the more books they should have in their Core Set. In addition to books of the Bible, one may have key passages (i.e. The Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13), Bible characters, or life-message related topics (i.e. disciplemaking, world missions, leadership) as a part of your Core Set.

Dr. Clinton would suggest that everyone should have a minimum of four books in their Core Set – one of the four gospels, Romans, Ephesians, and a book of your choice.  The gospels represent the life and ministry of Jesus our Lord.  Romans describes in detail the revelation Paul received regarding the gospel of salvation by grace.  Ephesians describes his other revelation regarding the Body of Christ – Jews and Gentiles made one in Christ.  The other book will be one where you go often for encouragement, comfort and inspiration.  It’s that section of your Bible with the most marks or where you have to tape the pages back into the binding.

In our Core Set we read, study, memorize and meditate over a lifetime.  We have our devotions in these books, preach and teach from them, write about them and minister to others from an overflow of depth in them.  We maintain connection with the whole of the Word by reading broadly and hearing it taught, but our concentration is in our Core Set.

Seek to be laser-like rather than a light bulb.  Have a long-term view regarding your depth in the Word that you may minister from an overflow.

Focus for impact!  Don’t sacrifice depth for area!

 

Kingdom Leaders and the Word

Study it through, Pray it in, Live it out, Pass it on.       Leighton Ford

Jesus reminds us that it is the seed of the Word of God the Kingdom worker plants that springs forth in the life soil of an individual (Mark 4:14).  Peter reminds us that we have been born again by the seed of the Word of God –  “… since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…” 1 Peter 1:23 ESV

A mark of a Kingdom leader is that they saturate their life and leadership with the Scriptures.  Not in a proof text, Post-it note kind of way – “Ooops, I’d better add a verse to this so that it sounds more spiritual.”  Rather, they have so embedded themselves in the Word of God that it naturally flows from them as they live and lead others to accomplish mission for the glory of God.

Note in the above quote that the first three steps regarding saturating our life and leadership with the Bible are internally focused.  We study the Word, not in a purely academic sense, but rather, with an eye towards applying it to ourselves and then to others.

Next we pray over the Scriptures with a meditative, contemplative attitude, expecting God to speak to us personally.  He will speak to our current situations and challenges, directing our paths and helping us sort out His voices from the cacophony that that surrounds us.  In Isaiah 30:21 (ESV) He promises, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

Next in the ministry of the Word is that we have to apply it to ourselves before we share it with others.  It was Howard Hendricks who said, “If it does not work at ‘home,’ don’t export it!”  Hypocrisy is by definition not living what you instruct others to be or do and Jesus had much to say about hypocrites – none of it positive!

Lastly, having studied, prayed and personally applied the Word, we now share it with others.  We align our leadership with God’s ways and seek to bring glory to Him, knowing that we will give an account for our actions at the end of our days. Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” And James gives Kingdom leaders this sobering reminder, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1 ESV)

Thus, we do humbly serve the King and seek to advance His Kingdom by honoring His Word in our life and leadership.  Are you seeking to saturate your life with the Word?  Are you pursuing knowing Him and abiding in Him by meeting Him daily in the Scriptures?

Over-Communicate!!!

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”  So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.      Exodus 24:12-13  ESV

The Lord had something extremely important to communicate to His people.  So, He called Moses and his aide, Joshua, up on a mountain top for 40 days of extended time together.  What was communicated from God to Moses during those days was recorded by him in the following chapters of Exodus, chapters 25-31.  Let’s examine how God communicated to and through leadership.

There were three general means of communication that the Lord used to get the message of the Law, the Tabernacle, and Levitical leadership across to Moses (and Joshua), seeking to ensure clarity of message.

The first means of communication was verbal.  “The LORD said to Moses…” (Exodus 25:1).  To deliver a message, speaking the message to another (sometimes repeating the message) is an initial step.  The fact that Moses records the words spoken to him by God implies that he (or perhaps his aide- Joshua) were taking detailed notes of what was being spoken to them.

Secondly, we note that God used visual reinforcement of what He communicated verbally.  “Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.” (Exodus 25:9 ESV)  Again the Lord says, “And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40 ESV)

The third way the Lord used to deepen the impact and clarify the message was by written words.  Note what Moses took down the mountain when he left after 40 days.  “And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18 ESV)  Here was the ‘executive summary’ of the Law – the 10 Commandments –  written on stone tablets by God Himself.

Verbal, visual, and written means of communication were all used by God to ‘over-communicate’ this very important message.  As Kingdom leaders, don’t assume telling is communicating.  Don’t assume because you put it in writing that those you lead are reading it.  And yes, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words!

May it not be said of your leadership, “What we have here is a failure to communicate!”

Casting Vision by Modeling

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.  1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)

I was recently asked, “Tom, what is a good way to develop a platform for influencing others?” I replied that a powerful means for influence is your own example and recounted this story of unknown origin that illustrates the power of modeling.

A young man sat on a bench in his train compartment opposite an older gentleman who was engaged in reading his bible.  The young man thought he recognized the older man as one of his personal heroes – a preacher who had great impact and a worldwide ministry.  Seizing the opportunity to talk with his hero, he worked up his courage, cleared his throat and asked him a question.

“Excuse me, sir, but aren’t you Mr. …?” he timidly asked.  Putting aside his bible, the older man responded affirmatively.  “Sir,” the young man continued, “I have admired your ministry for a long time and so desire to have the type of influence you have for Jesus.  Is there any advice the you would have for me to gain that influence which you now have?”

The old saint thought for a moment and then said, “Young man, I find that if you set yourself on fire, others will come and watch you burn!”

Never underestimate the power of your own example.  Point others to Christ and His Kingdom by the way you live as well as your words.  Live your personal calling in such a way as others take notice that you are one whose life backs up what you so proclaim.

Aside from the Bible, the biographies of great men and women of God have more shaped me as a Kingdom leader than any other books.  These ‘historical mentors’ have modeled a way, having blazed a trail that I seek to follow.

Yes, “Leaders are readers!” – but be careful what you read.  Saturate your life with the Scriptures and regularly read biographies of those who were used of God to change the world.  Then, others will come and follow the trail you leave behind.

Is your example worth following?

Apathy or Engagement?

For some men die by shrapnel,
And some go down in flames.
But most men perish inch by inch
In play at little games.
     The Night they Burned Shanghai  by Robert D. Abrahams

God is one who works.  He is always at work.  The Bible opens with God at  work creating the universe.  Jesus reminds us in John 5:17 (NIV), “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” God has grand plans and purposes which He invites us into.  Kingdom people are invited to join Him in His work, co-laboring with Him (see 1 Corinthians 3:9).

But for those who would volunteer for God’s army, there are certain conditions for ‘active duty.’  Note what the Lord says about those who would seek to enlist for His service.

2 Timothy 2:4 – No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.

2 Timothy 2:20-24 – In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

Luke 14:26-33 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

Luke 9:23-24 – Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

Philippians 3:12-14 – Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Life is too short to be playing silly little games.  God’s grand purposes await those who would ‘give up everything and follow Him.’  The One who launched the greatest enterprise the world has ever known – discipling the nations for Christ – beckons us join the effort and engage.

Isaiah 6:8 – Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here am I.  Send me!”

Confronting our Greatest Fear

When reflecting upon all the things in life that threaten me and induce a fear response, it seems that the final threat is the greatest – the threat of dying.  It is the ultimate threat in that it appears to be a terminus – so final and so unknown.  All of life we are working to advance the Kingdom, fulfill a personal destiny and serve others.  But with death all of this appears to end.

Jesus says to us in John 14:1-3 (ESV), “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”  When Jesus says “I will” do something, it will be done!

Death is not a terminus, rather it is a junction.  It is a transition from one form of existence to another.  We finally fulfill our ultimate destiny – seeing Jesus face-to-face and joining those who have gone this path before us.  We exchange our current reality for one much more real for the rest of eternity.

Paul reminds us of our destiny in 1 Corinthians 15:19-26 (ESV), “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

I was recently encouraged by the following poem from the great hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, titled ‘Some Day.’

Some day the silver cord will break,
And I no more as now shall sing;
But, O the joy when I shall wake
Within the presence of the King!

And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story, saved by grace:
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story, saved by grace.

Some day my earthly house will fall,
I cannot tell how soon ’twill be,
But this I know—my All in all
Has now a place with Him for me.

Or some day when my Lord will come,
And called to meet Him I’ll be blest,
He then will say to me, “Well done,”
And I shall enter into rest.

Some day, till then I’ll watch and wait,
My lamp all trimmed and burning bright,
That when my Savior I will greet,
My faith will then be changed to sight.

Until such time as the Lord calls us home, let us do the work He has asked of us, not shrinking back in fear due to present difficulties. He has given all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”   1 Corinthians 15:54-55  ESV

Responding to Fear

Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’  So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.   Acts 27:23-25  NIV

Paul and his shipmates had been driven across the Mediterranean by a storm for the past two weeks.  The crew had lost all hope of survival and all were in a state of despair.  With no sign of abatement in the tumult, out steps Paul with a word of hope for all.

The previous night an angel from the Lord had appeared to Paul and promised to see him out of this storm and on to Rome.  Paul exhorts those onboard not to lose hope, respond with courage, for he believed what God had promised.

Note that Paul takes a public stand that God would do exactly as He promised, regardless that present circumstances seemed to preclude a good outcome.  It was Paul’s faith in God’s promises that they were encouraged not to lose hope and keep up their courage.

Like Paul, faith in the promises of God can be contagious and bring hope when others have lost their own.  As Kingdom leaders we can be confident in God’s faithfulness to His promises and point others to these, boldly proclaiming that we believe that He will do exactly what He has promised to do.

For those of this world, confidence in their own ability experience or resources, is the response to fear.  But when those worldly resources are exhausted hope is lost and a sense of gloom can take over. For Kingdom people – God’s children – faith is the opposite of fear.  But our faith is based upon God, His promises and power to never leave us or forsake us in our trials.  It is founded on the reality that He never changes and has promised to never leave us. He will see us through every trial that He allows to touch us.

We must avoid the sin of presumption, for presumption acts based upon zeal or worldly wisdom, without God’s direction.  Presumption is foolishness and God will expose it.  David prayed in Psalm 19:13 (ESV), “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.”

The storms of life come upon all people (see Matthew 7:24-27).  But only one type of person stands the test – those who hear the Word of God and obey it.

May we be those people and point others to the ONE who will see us through the storm!

Acting in Faith, not Fear

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”   Luke 12:32  NIV

Jesus frequently talked to His followers about the subject of fear.  In particular, He exhorted them to not be controlled by their fears, rather respond to fear with faith in God.

Note what He says in Matthew 8:26 (NIV): He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  That is, why are you so fearful that your fear has taken control of you.  Jesus had led them into the boat, into the storm and was with them in the midst of the storm.

In Hebrews 11:7 (NIV) we read of the response of Noah as he confronted his fear. “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.”  Noah’s fear of God and His promised punishment of the world’s sin moved him to build an ark and protect his family.  It was an act of faith as it appears that to this time there had never been rain on the earth.  It was by faith that Noah acted based upon what God had promised to do.  Noah’s holy fear was a combination of fear and faith.

In Luke 12:4-7 (ESV) Jesus reminds us of this Kingdom truth regarding having a holy fear of God, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.  But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  And the author of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 10:31 (ESV), “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” 

Kingdom leaders are called to respond by faith when facing  threats that cause fear.  Faith does not deny the reality of these threats, but rather, sees them in perspective of God, His promises and His power.  “Nothing is impossible for Him” (Luke 1:37).  A faith response results in courage to meet the threat and act because of the greater reality of God’s ability and faithfulness.

What is controlling you today – faith or fear?

 

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