Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

The Hope of the Resurrection

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” … See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. … They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:36, 39-40, 42-43 ESV

As followers of Christ having accepted Him as Savior and placed our trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins, we are promised by the Lord Himself a new body at the resurrection of the righteous. This new body will be different from our current one in many ways, yet still maintaining the same basic shape (two hands, two feet, head, torso, legs, etc.) We draw these conclusions from the model of the resurrected body of Jesus when He appeared to His disciples during the 40 days after His own resurrection. Let’s note some of the characteristics of His new body.

What appears to be the same – He still has the nail marks from His crucifixion in His hands and feet (will they remain for all eternity as a reminder to us all in heaven of His sacrifice for us)? He has two hands and two feet. He can walk. His body appears as ‘flesh and bones’ – not some spiritual ghost-like body. He has a mouth and He can eat with it. Do you wonder, at least I do, about the digestive process in the resurrected body? He can speak with this new mouth, and apparently hear with His new ears when spoken to by the disciples. Earlier on the first Easter morning when appearing to two on the road to Emmaus He walked and talked with them, sat down, prayed, tore bread, and passed it to the two (see Luke 24:28-32). Perhaps it was in the passing of the bread that they saw His nail marks and recognized Him?

But for all these similar characteristics, our eternal bodies will have major upgrades. First of all, it is an eternal body – no degenerative aging or decay. It will last forever! Jesus in His new body was able to materialize and disappear at will. With His new body He could move through walls and enter locked rooms (see John 20:19ff). He could ascend into heaven from earth at will (see Acts 1, and the end of Luke 24). He moved about on the earth – appearing in and around Jerusalem and Galilee (around Capernaum) as well as making personal visits to Peter and to James His brother (see 1 Corinthians 15).

We know enough to have anchored hope in the promised resurrection of our new perfect body. But there is also the reality that, “… No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT)

Therefore, comfort and encourage one another with these words!

God’s Favor on your Leadership

[ David ] …who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Acts 7:46-47

David, the man after God’s own heart, enjoyed the favor of God on his leadership. He saw God fulfill his destiny when as a teen he was anointed by Samuel and declared to be the king after Saul. He refused to take the kingship by force, waiting upon God to fulfill what He had promised through Samuel. He saw the Lord deliver him multiple times from Saul’s plots to kill him. He saw God open doors of sanctuary among his enemies and spare him from having to fight against Saul. The tabernacle built by Moses was now under his control and he desired to build a permanent home for the place where God met with His leaders.

All of these instances and others not recounted showed God’s favor towards David. With Joseph we saw God’s favor was manifested in the midst of many life trials. With David we see God’s favor in opening multiple doors of blessing and opportunity. It appears that David presumed he would also be the one to build the permanent temple for God instead of the ‘temporary’ (mobile) tabernacle. But it was not to be. David was told that it would be his son, his successor, who would build the temple for God. How surprising! How disappointing!

David was not given the opportunity to construct the temple in Jerusalem that would become God’s ‘tent of meeting’ where the visible presence of God would dwell. It would be another. David made the plans and acquired the materials, but it was left to Solomon to execute the plan and build the temple. Even though David ‘enjoyed God’s favor there were still limits to what God permitted him to accomplish.

How about you? You may sense God’s hand upon you and your leadership, but that does not mean that everything you desire will receive God’s blessing. God has purposes and ways that are not ours. And we are to submit to Him and His plans, not just assume and expect Him to ‘rubber stamp’ all of our leadership initiatives. Even though we have seen His favor in other areas, there may be some where He says ‘no,’ this is not for you to execute.

It is how we respond when God says ‘no’ that reveals our hearts. Do we wave our raised fist against God and demand He grant our desires? Or are we more clever and think that we can somehow maneuver things to make it happen without His favor? Or, do we humbly submit our desires to His plans and ways, trusting that His ways are right and perfect?

It’s a matter of the heart. How’s yours?

Asking for and Accepting Help

As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. … They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. Luke 19:29-30, 35 NIV

As Jesus neared Jerusalem on Sunday of the Passion Week (Palm Sunday), he needed help. To fulfill the prophesy of Zechariah (see Zech. 9:9), He needed a colt to ride into the city. So, He asked (directed) two of the Twelve to go before Him into the village and bring back the colt for Him. They did as directed and return with the colt, placing their cloaks upon the back of the colt and then lifted Jesus up onto the back of the animal. Jesus then rode the colt into Jerusalem as people laid palm branches in front of the colt, shouting and praising God as He entered the city.

Note the help Jesus needed in the recruitment of resources (a colt to ride) and the assistance He needed to get onto the animal. Here is the King of Kings asking for and accepting help from others. What humility!

Many Kingdom leaders are passionate to use their leadership to serve others. This is good and right – an admirable motivation. Yet, many struggle to ask for help from others or accept the help from others. They are used to providing help and find it difficult to ask for themselves the help they need. Perhaps it’s our ego or just habit that we don’t ask for ourselves. Regardless of why we don’t ask for help, this was not so with Jesus!

What help do you need now to accomplish the mission God has called you to? Have you asked the Lord for His help? Have you asked others for their help also? It’s not ‘either-or’ but ‘both-and’ for your requests. Is your pride preventing you from asking others to help you? Have others offered their help but you are reluctant to accept it? Why? Perhaps the Lord is moving them to come to your aid?

Ask and you will receive!

Planning and the Sovereignty of God

But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. Romans 15:23-25 NIV

Note Paul’s intention. He was coming to the end of his third missionary tour and sent this letter to the Roman believers. His plans were to end his current tour by delivering the offering from Gentile churches to the believers in Jerusalem (no doubt mostly Jewish converts). After this task was finished, he intended to continue his ministry to places where the Gospel had not been preached – he was going to Spain with a short layover in Rome along the way. What a beautiful plan! It was so strategic! So aligned with his calling as the Apostle to the Gentiles!

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NASB95 Or, my paraphrase of this passage – “Man plans his ways and God messes up his plans!”

Paul returned to Jerusalem, was arrested in the Temple, falsely imprisoned for two years, shipped to Rome as a prisoner and lived there awaiting trial for two more years under house arrest. He got to Rome, but in a time and manner that he had not planned on. Whether he got to Spain is a matter for the Bible historians to determine, for the Acts ends with his two years of house arrest in Rome.

How do you respond when God changes your plans – your good, righteous, strategic plans? How flexible are you? Are these your plans that you are asking God to ‘rubber stamp’ His blessing upon? Or are you truly seeking to follow His leading and do His will, not your own? The test comes when things don’t work out the way we thought they would. Ahhhh… there’s the rub!!!

We Left All

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” Luke 18:28 NIV

A very wealthy man had just walked away from Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. He went away sad for he was very wealthy. Jesus lamented about how difficult it is for those with much to enter the Kingdom of God. This comment stirred Peter’s response. “We have left everything…” he said.

Note that Jesus did not correct Peter’s statement about having left everything, for they certainly had. For the previous two years the Twelve had left their professions to be trained as apostles who would carry the leadership of the movement Jesus started. They had left family, friends, spouses (at least we know Peter was married), physical security, and all that was familiar to their previous lifestyle to be His disciples. Yes, they had left all.

But contrast this with what Jesus instructs them about provision on the evening of the Last Supper. In Luke 22:35-36 we read, “Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Wait! What? Why would Jesus affirm “leaving all” in one context and now He instructs them to get your ‘stuff’ together and go well provisioned?

With the rich young ruler it was not a matter of how much ‘stuff’ he had. Rather it was his heart’s attitude about his ‘stuff.’ His wealth has a central position in his heart and Jesus pointed this out by challenging him to leave it all and follow Him. The Twelve had previously demonstrated that Jesus was central in their hearts (Judas being the exception). Thus, they were instructed to gather, not divest. It was a heart issue, not a materials issue.

As Kingdom leaders we must continually self-examine our heart’s relationship to our ‘stuff.’ It’s easy to fall in love with your ‘stuff’ and move Jesus from His rightful spot on the throne of our life to the margin. How’s your heart today? What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about your relationship to your ‘stuff’?

Aging and Retirement – 3

By 1935 the Depression was in full bloom and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had to address the issue of caring for older American workers who had lost their savings in the Depression and had little support to make it to old age.  The Social Security Act of 1935 established the age of 65 as the retirement age for American workers.[1]  It is also interesting to note that the life expectancy for American workers in 1935 was 58 for men and 62 for women.   And now, with the Amended Social Security Act of 1988, the retirement age is gradually being raised to 67 by the year 2025 with life expectancy for men being 76 and women being 81. [2]

The concept of retirement from work into a season of leisure, self-enjoyment and self-fulfillment took root in the 1950s in America.  Workers were encouraged to save for the future with those savings being used for self-indulgence and personal pleasure – a reward for the hard work one had to ‘endure’ during their working career.  Communities for ‘seniors’ emerged and the concept of a leisurely season of retirement after a work career ended became a destination. 

With increasing longevity and life-expectancy growing dramatically due to improvements in health care, workers can now expect that their retirement years may be longer than their working years.  Increasing cost of living, increasing medical costs, and poor financial planning lead to older American workers seeking to extend their working years so that they have income to live and possibly save for a longer than expected life.  Seniors working as big box store greeters and counter help at McDonald’s are now common. 

The fracturing of the American family and the geographical scattering of children from their parents compounds any possible means of caring for a rapidly aging population.  Few churches or ministries have adequate means or a vision for caring for the older members.  What commitments do we have to our aging staff? How do we honor them and honor God in our relationships? Remember the Golden Rule of Luke 6:31! What goes around comes around and we will all be the “old one” someday.


[1] N.Y. Times, The History of Retirement, From Early Man to A.A.R.P.  March 21, 1999

[2] Life Expectancy in USA in 2010; http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005148.html

Aging and Retirement – 2

The Lord said to Moses, “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.  They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work.   Numbers 8:23-26 NIV (1984)

Retirement, that is, stopping work for a life of ease, is a relatively modern concept.  J.I. Packer in his book, “Finishing our Course with Joy” says, “The Biblical “ideal of ripeness and increased focus in life in our old age stands in direct contrast to the advice for old age that our secular Western world currently gives.  Retirees are admonished, both explicitly and implicitly, in terms that boil down to this:  Relax.  Slow Down.  Take it easy.  Amuse yourself.  Do only what you enjoy.”

Cotton Mather, the Puritan firebrand, in the early 1700s attempted to encourage older workers to consider being “…pleased with the Retirement you are dismissed into.” [2]  This concept did not mean the worker would receive a monthly pension; rather it was an encouragement for the older to step aside and let the younger have a place of contribution.  Until the Industrial Revolution, mankind simply worked until they could work no longer.  It was the move away from primarily an agrarian society and to a factory work environment that was less physically demanding that gave older workers an opportunity to continue to work to increasingly older age. 

Monthly pensions to older workers began to be addressed in the U.S. in the late 1800s.  “In 1875, the American Express railroad company set a precedent by establishing the first private pension plan in America.  Banks, utility companies and manufacturing companies quickly followed suit and established pension plans funded mostly by the employer.” [3]

In 1883, Chancellor van Bismarck of Germany had to face the growing attraction of the Marxists who were promising older German factory workers an old age pension.  To counter the Marxists, van Bismarck offered to pay the German factory workers to stop working and receive a monthly payment from the government.  He chose the age of 65 as the age to stop working.  It is interesting to note that the life expectancy in Germany at the time was 62 years of age! [4]

As we form our policies and personal convictions on aging and retirement, let’s be aware of the historical development of the concept of retiring to a life of ease in our old age. More importantly, let’s look to the Bible for direction and help in addressing our aging staff and surrounding demographics.


[2] N.Y. Times, The History of Retirement, From Early Man to A.A.R.P.  March 21, 1999

[3] http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2006/04/01/the-history-of-retirement#.VwGUm5ispiI.email

[4] N.Y. Times, The History of Retirement, From Early Man to A.A.R.P.  March 21, 1999

Aging and Retirement – 1

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.      Leviticus 19:32 NIV (1984)

America is becoming a nation of old people (the aged) and many Kingdom ministries are similar.  By the year 2030 there will be more Americans over the age of 65 than under the age of 15.  Currently in the U.S. approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers retire each day! 

These demographics and their implications for our work demand that we be proactive in our strategy for how best to utilize and serve this staff demographic.

The world tends to operate from a functional worth system.  That is, the value or worth of an individual is determined by the function that they perform.  The more valuable the function performed, as deemed by society, the more valuable the person is according to society.  Thus, we pay more for leaders than followers, more for doctors than custodians, and more for experienced workers than less experienced ones.  It is this functional worth system that rationally can abort unborn children or euthanize the aged for their function is not deemed valuable by society. 

This functional worth system is in direct contrast to the positional worth system of the Kingdom.  Every individual, whether the unborn, the infirmed, or the aged, is deemed infinitely valuable.  They are all individuals who are created in God’s image and for whom Christ died.  Their value is not determined by function, but rather by position in God’s Kingdom as His unique creation. David Solie, a geriatric expert and author of “How to Say It to Seniors” says, “Aging in this culture is seen as a disease and a failure.” 

In the Leviticus passage above, we note that God reminds us to show respect and honor the aged and elderly. Don’t just put them aside, but rather view them as valuable assets to be strategically deployed for the advancement of the Gospel and the Kingdom.

Divided Loyalty

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. Luke 16:13-15 NIV

Jesus very pointedly addresses a core issue for the Pharisees. Note that Jesus points out their heart issue – they loved money. The accumulation of personal wealth was a high value for them. No doubt there were some who questioned this value, perhaps among the Pharisees themselves. But they justified their choices and behavior, making excuses and giving reasons that on the surface sounded plausible.

This value and behavior had become commonplace among the Pharisees, for Luke notes that they as a group all loved money. This love of money was seen by others around them, but they had become blinded to this conflict of interest. For Jesus points out that their root issue was not one of behavior or lifestyle, but rather one of the heart. They had become lovers of money instead of lovers of God.

Jesus rebukes their acceptance of loving money by saying that no one can serve two Masters. You cannot have a divided loyalty. Loving God and serving Him is not compatible with loving money and serving the accumulation of wealth.

Few Kingdom leaders wake up one day and decide to love money instead of loving God. Rather, it is a slow shift in values and heart direction, incrementally drawing us away from our first love. Little choices made daily over a long time frame gradually allows new values to replace old. We compare our choices and lifestyles with others, focusing only on those that support our own values while ignoring those who live sacrificial, self-denying lives. We justify ourselves saying, “Well, no need to get too radical here.”

Our hearts speak through our value-driven choices and resulting behaviors. What are you modeling for those you lead and for the lost world that is looking for authentic faith? How’s your heart? What do you really love in this life? Or should we say, “Who do you love?”

Deferring to Others – A Sign of Humility

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11 ESV

Have you noticed a difference in how you are treated by others now that you are a recognized leader in the Kingdom? Before accepting this calling you got little attention from others when attending an event. But now that you have this title or role, others want your attention and usher you to special seats at certain events. It’s easy to assume that you are somehow more important and your ego will crave this type of special attention.

Note that Jesus observed the banquet attendees clamoring for seats of honor. His parable addressed this attitude of self-promotion and self-aggrandizement. His summary was not to diminish the honor that came with certain seats, but rather, it was how you attained that honor. If you sought the honor, you were disqualified. Better to defer that honor to another and then receive it back later.

It’s right that you as a leader be given certain prominence in meetings but be careful about your heart. If you expect to be treated as special, you will have a rude awakening when you are no longer the leader and not given special treatment, for that now goes to your successor. If you continue to pursue this attention or if you think you deserve it (“I sacrificed for them, thus they owe me”), be careful, for you may be publicly embarrassed when others take your place.

Better to defer to others, letting them have the honor due them for their current role, not expecting anything for your previous service. God knows your sacrificial service and He will reward. Then, should you be asked into a place of honor, watch out! Your ego can convince you that, “Well, it’s about time someone noticed me! I’m an important person you know!” It can be so subtle!

Be wise and be circumspect, especially in public gatherings. Defer places of honor and special treatment to others. Never be self-seeking or self-promoting!

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