Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Not Chosen

Therefore, it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” So, they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.     Acts 1:21-26  NIV

It’s post-resurrection and seemingly during the period between the Lord’s ascension and the Day of Pentecost when the Church is birthed with the coming of the Holy Spirit.  An operational detail needed to be addressed, for the leadership team had an empty position to be filled.  Judas had betrayed the Lord and died, and now the Eleven needed to become the Twelve again by selecting a replacement.

They discussed the criteria for candidates, noting that anyone considered had to have been with Jesus from His baptism by John the Baptist through the ascension from the Mt. of Olives.  This narrowed the list down to two men – Barsabbas and Matthias.  They prayed, asking the Lord to direct and show them who He had chosen for this role.  They ‘voted’ and the lot fell to Matthias.

Think about Barsabbas who was not chosen.  This was now his second time of not making the ‘final cut.’  He had been with Jesus since His baptism and was among the crowd of Jesus’ disciples when Jesus chose the Twelve (see Luke 6:12-19).  But when Jesus called the names of those who would be on His apostolic training team, his name was not called.  No doubt he would have been disappointed, but maybe relieved as well?

But now the list was down to just two people – he and Matthias.  The 120 or so in the selection council were the committed ones and he was well thought of by them, having made it to the ‘finalist’ list.  However, once again Barsabbas was not selected by God and his peers to lead.  Ouch!

God selects the leaders (see Daniel 2:21) and Barsabbas had to wrestle with the reality that God had not chosen him – twice.  Did it mean that God disapproved of him?  Did it mean that God did not have a contribution for him to make?  These kinds of experiences can be unsettling or depressing for Kingdom leaders, for all of us have ambitions and when these are not fulfilled we are disappointed.

Think also of James and John asking to be placed in the top two positions at Jesus’ right and left hand.  Jesus did not rebuke them for their brash ambition or seeking to jump the line ahead of their brothers.  Rather, He said, “But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”  (NLT)  James and John were not chosen for these places in the Kingdom.

All Kingdom leaders will have multiple opportunities in our leadership careers where we are not chosen for a role and the mantle of leadership falls on someone else’s shoulder.  How we respond to this is key.  Do we sulk, get bitter, or angry against God?  Do we allow a divisive attitude to emerge and not wholeheartedly support the leadership of the chosen one?  We may even appear supportive on the outside, but in our hearts we are jealous or envious of the chosen one.

Have you had the experience of not being chosen, yet?  If not, then be prepared – it’s coming.  If so, how’s your heart?

 

Kingdom Mobility

Jesus grew up in a small town in Galilee, the son of a carpenter who learned the trade from his father.  No doubt he was expected to stay there and follow the pattern of many who had gone before Him.  But when He began His public ministry at the age of 30, He adapted a new lifestyle, one that modeled mobility for the sake of the Kingdom.

He left Nazareth to be baptized by John the Baptist along the Jordan River.  Immediately afterwards He spent 40 days in the desert in prayer and fasting and was tempted by the devil to abandon His earthly mission.  During the next year of His ministry, the ‘small-town boy’ ministered in and around the big city of Jerusalem in the province of Judea, making short trips through Samaria to Capernaum and engaging in a wedding in Cana.

Somewhere near the beginning of the second year of His ministry, Jesus permanently moved from His hometown of Nazareth to Capernaum.  “Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali…”  (Matthew 4:12-13 ESV)  It was from Capernaum that He would now live and minister for the remainder of His ministry.  He did return to His hometown briefly, but it did not go well.  Many questioned the legitimacy of His ministry and refused to place their faith in Him.  (see Mark 6:1-6)  Capernaum would now be referred to as His “home.” (see Mark 2:1)  For the remaining two and a half years, Jesus would make multiple trips with His disciples throughout Galilee, Judea, Samaria, Phoenicia, Decapolis and Perea, returning to Capernaum in between trips.

Jesus modeled mobility as He carried out the mission for which He had come.  And we who would follow Him are also called to a similar lifestyle.  Now it is not sin to locate in one town or city for an extended period.  But the question to answer is this, “If Jesus asks me to move, am I willing to go wherever He directs?”  Be very careful if you find yourself saying, “I’ll go anywhere, Lord, except …”  Kingdom mobility involves both attitude and action.

Mobility is implicit for His disciples as we read what we ‘leave’ for His sake in Mark 10:29-30 (ESV) – “Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”  (italics added)

Is Jesus asking you to move?  If so, you should start to pack!

Why Are You So Afraid?

Fear is a God-given emotion that has the benefit of protecting us from potential threats.  Only God does not know fear, for nothing is a threat to Him.  To be afraid of something is not sin.  But fear can become sin if we let it control us.  So, when Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid,” He is not suggesting that we ignore our fears.  That would be impossible.  But He is saying that we are not to be controlled by fear, rather, act in faith – faith in Him who knows no fear!

In the gospel of Mark, we find these references to fearful situations that the disciples faced.  Reflect on the circumstances of each incident that created the fear response.

Mark 4:40 ESV     He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  –  fear for physical safety

Mark 6:50 ESV      …for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  –  fear from a very unusual experience

Mark 9:32 ESV      But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.  –  fear of being thought of as stupid or incompetent

Mark 10:32 ESV     And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him…  –  fear of possible death from persecution

Mark 16:8 ESV     And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  –  fear of other’s opinions

Kingdom leaders face fear daily.  Nothing new here.  The only question we must answer is how do we respond?  Does our fear control us and dictate our actions?  Do we look to our own resources to deal with our perceived threat?  Or do we use these situations to remind us of our need for help from the Lord and the empowerment that can come only from Him?

We are not talking about putting on some ‘brave front’ or false bravado.  It’s OK to acknowledge whatever threat we encounter.  Foolishness denies the reality.  But faith names the threat and calls upon the Lord to help.  He has promised never to leave or forsake us.  He has promised to answer when we cry for His help.

… and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.   Psalm 50:15 ESV

What are you afraid of today?  Call for His help!

Leading from an Overflow

Kingdom leaders must have a personal depth in their relationship with the Lord Jesus from which they are able to lead and serve others. It is this abiding relationship, being attached to Jesus the vine, that allows us to lead in ways that honor Him.  Jesus said in John 15:5 (ESV), “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” 

I primary way that we can build our relationship with Jesus is through meeting Him in His Word.  Regular, daily input from the Bible will allow us to sink our roots deeply into Him.  It is not an academic exercise that we pursue as we read and study His Word.  Rather, we desire to pursue the author of the Word, seeing our time in the Scriptures as a means to an end, not an end in itself.

One of my favorite means of Bible intake is simply reading the Bible.  I’ve found that it profoundly impacts my life and leadership as I take in larger portions of His Word through reading, asking the Holy Spirit to give me understanding and application from what I read. 

Some years ago I developed a Bible reading plan for reading the entire New Testament through in a month.  Not speed reading, nor stopping to cross-reference thoughts or do individual word studies.  Simply reading the text, letting it enter my mind, heart and soul as I read and seek understanding and application from it.  Below is a New Testament reading plan that in 30 minutes a day will allow you to read the entire New Testament in a month.  Should I miss a day in my reading, I’m not bound by some legalism to try and read twice as much the next day.  For my goal is not the amount I read, but meeting with the Author of the book. 

  NT Reading Program

 One-Month Reading Plan

   30 Minutes a Day

DAY

READ

1

Matthew 1-8

2

Matthew 9-15

3

Matthew 16-22

4

Matthew 23-28

5

Mark 1-6

6

Mark 7-12

7

Mark 13 – Luke 2

8

Luke 3-7

9

Luke 8-12

10

Luke 13-19

11

Luke 20-24

12

John 1-7

13

John 8-13

14

John 14-21

15

Acts 1-7

16

Acts 8-13

17

Acts 14-20

18

Acts 21-28

19

Romans 1-8

20

Romans 9-16

21

1 Corinthians 1-11

22

1 Corinthians 12 – 2 Cor. 7

23

2 Corinthians 8 – Galatians

24

Ephesians – Philippians

25

Colossians – 2 Thessalonians

26

1 Timothy – Philemon

27

Hebrews 1-11

28

Hebrews 12 – 1 Peter

29

2 Peter – Jude

30

Revelation 1-11

31

Revelation 12-22

“Leaders are readers.”   J.O. Sanders 

 

A Kingdom Leader’s Perspective

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.   Ecclesiastes 7:14 NIV

When times are good, we tend to be focused on the immediate and what is seen.  We are enjoying life and on ‘cruise control’ in our leadership.  We make our plans and execute them with vigor.  We testify that God is with us and point to our results as evidence of His blessing.  Our prayer life is full of thanksgiving and praise for the good that we are experiencing.

But then something happens.  Life and ministry turn difficult.  We face unforeseen challenges and difficulties.  Our well-proven plans don’t work the way they used to.  We compare previous outcomes with our current ones and see a downward trend line.  “Is there sin in the camp?” we ask.  It must be something we are doing wrong.  We must not be working hard enough.  And so, we double our efforts and trust that we will turn the trend line towards the positive.  But still nothing seems to change. How discouraging.

Why would God allow such a thing?  Paul had times of great fruitfulness and times of difficulty in his ministry.  Here’s his perspective in 2 Corinthians 1:7-11 (NIV) on why he faced the hard times.  “And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

So, when the times are bad, the Lord is creating an opportunity for us to run to Him in prayer, trusting that He will deliver us from our current trial.  With these turbulent days greatly impacting all of us, one question arises.  “How’s your prayer life?”

So… How’s your prayer life?

A Kingdom Leader’s Life

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.  Hebrews 6:12 NIV

Many have gone before us, modeling a life of surrender and commitment to obey the Lord wholeheartedly.  Here the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to imitate their lives; lives that demonstrate three qualities of a surrendered life.

They first model a life full of faith – a life that trusts God and His Word.  They trust His purposes when it makes sense or not; when it feels good, or not; and when supported by others or asked to stand alone against the cultural tide.   

Secondly, they model a life that patiently waits upon God to do what only He can do.  They are not passive in their patience, but they only act as He directs.  They rest in the assurance that He knows their circumstances and will, in His perfect time and His perfect way, demonstrate His power to do above and beyond what we can ask or imagine.

Finally, these models of the surrendered life inherit what God has promised.  They take God at His Word and align their lives to His promises.  Through faith and patience (perseverance), they receive what He promises, knowing His Word is backed by His unchanging character and that nothing is impossible for Him.  They pray over His promises with an expectancy that He will do just as He promised. 

Pray that we would model faith, patience and trust in the promises of God as found in His Word, encouraging others to imitate our surrendered life. 

Pray that God would raise up a new generation of surrendered followers of Jesus whose lives demonstrate the power of God to fulfill His promises.

Pray over the Scriptural promises God has given you, asking Him to do just as He promised. 

“You do not have because you do not ask God.”   James 4:2  NIV

Your Assumptions are Showing!

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith… Mark 6:5-6 NIV

Jesus had come home to Nazareth after an extended time away. Having launched His public ministry in Jerusalem and Judea, He had moved to Capernaum and large crowds followed Him, listening to His teaching and observing His many miracles. By this time His popularity had increased such that even King Herod had heard of Him (see Mark 6:14).

Now He came back to His boyhood home and gave to them the same opportunity the other villages of Judea and Galilee had received. He entered the synagogue at Nazareth and taught them about the Kingdom of God. Mark had already noted that when Jesus taught, He did not quote other rabbis as sources of authority as was the custom. Rather, He contrasted their thoughts with His own, claiming a greater authority. This caused questions and confusion among those who knew Him. “… and many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?'” (Mark 6:2 NIV)

These people had certain assumptions about Jesus (see Mark 6:3). He was a man who had grown up in their village like many other young men. He had brothers and sisters like many families. He had learned from His father the trade of carpentry and had worked among them as a carpenter. He had never received religious training to be a rabbi and yet here He was teaching others about the Kingdom of God and recruiting disciples. They had heard that He was performing all sorts of miracles and certainly the crowds that followed Him seemed to indicate something unusual about Him. But, their assumptions about Him blocked their faith and they took offense at Him. As a result He could not do any miracles among them, other than a few minor healings.  Why?

It was their assumptions that led to their unbelief and lack of faith in Him. They did not even bother to ask Him for help! Certainly, Jesus’ power was the same in Nazareth as elsewhere. But, their previous assumptions about Him did not allow them to even consider asking Him for help. No wonder Jesus was ‘amazed at their lack of faith!”

What assumptions about Jesus do you have that are negatively influencing your leadership? The opportunity for Jesus to show Himself strong on your behalf is extended, but will your assumptions about Him lead to unbelief and a lack of even bothering to ask for His help? He has stated that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. Will you even ask for His help?

“…You do not have because you do not ask God.”   James 4:2  NIV

A Life Pleasing to God

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. … and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:1,11-12 NIV

Paul was writing to a group of disciples in Thessalonica who were trying to understand what kind of life they should model amid great challenges. Their new faith now put them at odds with the prevailing cultural norms. Their first allegiance was to Jesus, their Lord and Savior. That was settled in their hearts and minds. But how to live life day to day with its constant reminders that they were ‘out of sync’ with the cultural majority?

Paul gives several guiding principles to help with the daily decisions the believers faced.  First, the goal is not to seek to please oneself, but to live a life that pleases God.  We seek the ‘applause of One,’ longing to hear His voice say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Secondly, he instructs them to pursue a ‘quiet life’ that does not draw undo attention or draw the ire of the majority.  They are to ‘mind their own business’ and not meddle in the affairs of others.  Now should persecution arise, a believer’s loyalty to Christ must not waiver.  Just as many followers of Jesus have died for their faith, so they (we) too must be willing to do so if required.  But don’t go looking for trouble or seek martyrdom.  “Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion.”  Ecclesiastes 9:4  NIV

Third, they are encouraged to live productive lives, working hard with their own hands so that the manner and quality of their lives would be a witness to the unbelieving world around them. As they work, they must avoid becoming entangled with the world and its affairs (see 2 Timothy 2:4), shunning  any dependency upon outsiders to the faith.  These obligations or entanglements could be used to force compromise or denial of the faith and are thus to be avoided.

As Jesus sent out the Twelve in pairs to carry out His mission, He warned them, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16  NIV 

May we have ears to hear! 

He’s Out of His Mind!

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

Jesus grew up the son of a carpenter who had little rabbinical training and yet at the age of 30, having been baptized by John the Baptist, was now acting very much like a Jewish rabbi. He had begun recruiting personal disciples to follow Him. He was gathering large crowds and teaching them about the Kingdom of God. He taught them with authority, contrasting what He said, with what was said by other rabbis. “You have heard it said… but I say…” People marveled at His teaching, saying that He spoke with authority.

He had begun performing miracles – healing the physically sick and curing the demonized of their spiritual sickness as well. He demonstrated His authority over both the physical and spiritual worlds. These acts of power and authority astounded those around Him. And as His popularity grew, news of these things traveled back to Nazareth to His family.

One would hope that His mother, knowing of His immaculate conception and having had a personal conversation with the angel, Gabriel, would have understood what was happening. But, thirty years had passed and perhaps she was now being influenced by her other sons (Joseph having died).

And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:31-35 ESV

We don’t know what the interaction was between Jesus and His family members that day, but we do know that He did not stop His ministry and return to Nazareth with them. And we do know that after His resurrection His family had come to believe in Him. His family was with the other disciples in Jerusalem praying. “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Acts 1:14 ESV

There may be times when the Lord’s calling on us goes contrary to the wishes of our family. Should this be the case, those who would be followers of Jesus are instructed to obey Him (see Luke 14:25-33). We would hope that family would be supportive as we pursue God, but if not, we can know that even Jesus had similar experiences and He will see us through. He is enough!

Seek His approval rather than the approval of others! 

When God Says “Sit”

 

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”    Matthew 26:36  ESV  (emphasis added)

It’s the night before the crucifixion and Jesus is now taking the 11 (Judas had left them) into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray for an extended time.  Note that He separates the 11 into the three on His ‘executive team’ – Peter, James and John who go with Him a little farther into the garden and the eight who are left to sit and wait.  We know of the three who continually fell asleep and could not watch as Jesus struggled in prayer that night.  But let’s focus on the far side of the garden where the other eight were left.

It’s interesting to note that the Lord’s instruction was open ended.  That is, they were told to sit while He took the three with Him.  He let them know that He would not be far away – I’ll ‘go over there’ – that is, just separate enough from you all to have some privacy in prayer.  The implication was that they were to wait for His return from His exercise with the three.  They are not told what to do while He was gone, other than to ‘sit.’

How hard it is for Kingdom leaders when God says to us, ‘Sit down and wait.’  Leaders are people of action – always wanting to make something happen and never satisfied with the status quo.  We want to ‘get on with it’ and do something – anything other than ‘sit.’  We grow restless quickly, thinking we are wasting precious time or not being ‘productive’ for the Lord.  But it was at the word of Jesus, their Lord, that the eight were told to ‘sit.’  So… they sat down, ‘away from the action’ and waited for further instruction.

Has God told you to ‘sit down?’  Do you feel like you are on the siding watching the trains of life pass you by?  Are you wondering if or when God will invite you back ‘into the game?’  He has good purposes for you and as part of that plan, He is now asking you to sit down.  So, you may grumble or fight against it, thinking how unfair God is or how you are not being utilized as you desire.  Or you can willingly obey His instruction and trust Him that when the time is right, you will be invited to once again get going.

Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise, let us be going...”   Matthew 26:45-46  ESV  (emphasis added)

How’s your attitude? 

 

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