Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

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? 

 

Making Wise Personnel Decisions – 4

As you lead, personnel decisions will be the most time-consuming and challenging to make.  Most will be some shade of gray – not black and white and obvious. Below are some final thoughts related to making wise personnel decisions.

How do you fire someone?

For some Kingdom leaders it may come as a surprise that part of your job is not just to hire great people, but also to fire (out-place) some.  Ugghhh!  No leader likes to fire others.  It can be a stomach-turning experience. But, there are times when it is the best thing to do for the person and for the mission. 

In today’s litigious society, it is very wise to get counsel involved in any firing process. Experts in HR and labor laws should be in your circle of counsel. And make sure these resource people are in on any conversation early in the process.  These advisors know the legal ‘landmines’ to avoid when firing someone and other consequences that may result like severance packages, unemployment obligations, how to communicate the termination to staff and the public, etc. 

In particular, it is very important to document the process involved when terminating an employee (have a paper trail). Keep records of job descriptions, annual reviews, conversations had regarding work performance, emails, etc.  It should not be a surprise to the person being fired when they are asked to resign. 

After termination, questions may arise when we are asked by someone’s new, potential employer when they are doing a background check. What to say – legally and ethically should be examined. Or, after terminating an employee, we may find out that they are now serving in a different ministry that did not contact us or do a background check with us as to their employment history. Depending upon the reason for termination, we may have ethical choices to make on whether to talk to their new employer as to their history with us.

Terminating someone’s employment – whether it be for a sin issue (i.e. moral failure) or lack of doing what was agreed to or expected for the job – must be well-thought through.  What is communicated to team members, ministry members, financial donors and the general public needs to be examined by multiple parties.  There are certain legal issues that may constrain what can and cannot be said to these various audiences.  Don’t just “wing it!”

Don’t expect agreement on personnel decisions.  These are judgment calls and there are good reasons on all sides of any decision.  Ask the Holy Spirit’s help in these decisions and trust Him to lead you. 

And finally, remember – some personnel decisions may look bad in the short term, but long term are seen as wise.  Wisdom is known by its children!  Luke 7:35

Making Wise Personnel Decisions – 3

We continue our discussion on making wise personnel decisions as Kingdom leaders. Today’s topic is one where we definitely need wisdom from above – James 1:5.

Discerning between care or development needs versus too costly a use of limited resources 

  1. When we use the term ‘too costly,’ what does this mean?  If a staff needs professional counseling, for example, who pays for the counseling and for how long?  What type of outcomes/change are we expecting from this counseling that will determine whether they stay or leave?  Define the process, responsibilities and outcomes before you start the process!
  2. Do we send/allow staff to pursue advanced degrees (i.e. leadership, counseling, seminary degrees) as part of their personal development? There are legal implications, labor laws that apply here – especially when using donor funds (untaxed, organizational funds) to pay for degrees that are not relevant to current roles and may prepare them for different jobs.  Know the law before you give permission on this!
  3. When a staff or employee fails to fulfill their responsibilities, we would hope that there will be change/improvement given more time and good supervision. We are sometimes tempted to think that changing the environment (i.e. job or supervisor) will bring improvement, but, in my experience, this rarely helps.
  4. We want to help people succeed by resourcing them well.  Jesus said, “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden. The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”   Luke 13:6-9  NLT
  5. Note the attempt to bring fruitfulness to the barren tree within a specific time frame.  Three years of patiently expecting results were now coupled with an additional year given for change with added attention and ‘fertilizer’ from the gardener.  But, there were limits. If there is not the expected change after the additional year of help, then the gardener is to ‘cut it down.’
  6. What to do when a leader violates trust – for example, demonstrates a moral failure? There is no ‘formula’ for this situation.  We must be wise and visit this on a case-by-case basis. Restoration of the fallen or wounded is our primary goal and we would want to have a strong bias towards this. We don’t want to ‘shoot our wounded.’  When a leader sins, we can and should seek to restore them to fellowship with their appropriate repentance and time for healing.  But the question arises on whether we should restore them to leadership once a trust is broken?  Prudence and wisdom would seem to guide us to evaluate the heart and actions of the individual as well as the nature of trust that was broken.  As in all complex personnel issues, the answer ‘ it depends’ means we need the guidance of the Spirit to discern our course of action.
  7. How do we act in love to those leaders who have broken trust? It is not necessarily loving to ‘forgive and forget.’  Certainly there will be a ‘disciplining’ of those who have broken trust.  The Lord does discipline those He loves (Hebrews 12:1-13).  But His discipline is not unending and it does yield change – the ‘fruit of righteousness.’
  8. We can expect a difference of opinions on what to do. Those with mercy and compassion gifts may not want to fire or lose someone from the team or mission.  They may tend to think that with the right care, given more time and help we will see lasting change and the person be recovered.  A different view from those with more prophetic, exhortation or leadership gifts may emphasize mission over person and not want to risk entrusting leadership authority and responsibility to someone who has previously proven unfaithful.  These are always difficult decisions.
  9. A general principle here is Luke 6:31 – “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”  The Golden Rule of Leadership is – Lead others the way you would want to be led.

Making Wise Personnel Decisions – 2

For Kingdom leaders, personnel decisions can be the most time-consuming and challenging of all the decisions you make.  The complexity of these decisions is due to the many considerations involved:  What’s best for the strategic mission? or What’s best for the person / their family?

Below are some guiding principles and ideas on how to make wise personnel placement decisions.

Staffing Change / Placement / Move decisions 

  1. Kingdom leaders lead in the midst of a tension.  At times we have competing values between a staff person’s needs and desires vs the mission’s (God-given task) needs and desires.  We do value both the individual staff person and an awareness of our stewardship of the mission God has asked us to carry out.  In staffing and placement decisions these tensions can be very real and seem unsolvable so that both are addressed.
  2. A guiding principle to help us in this dilemma would be – we want to have a bias towards the person and their needs (not necessarily their desires), knowing that the Lord will provide all the resources needed to accomplish anything He asks us to do.
  3. We must acknowledge that in some situations it may be more strategic to stay a longer time in one location, rather than move.  Role changes and physical moves are made in light of fulfilling our strategic mission.
  4. When making staffing decisions, there are some issues that we must be very considerate about – personal health needs, children’s development and education, extended family concerns (i.e. caring for aging parents), financial budgets (city budgets vs rural budgets), personal ‘fit’ for the new assignment, etc.
  5. But, while we do consider the above, we must not shrink back from asking for sacrifice or going against one’s personal desires.  Sacrifice is the lifestyle of a follower of Jesus and certainly a part of laboring for Him.  In Mark 10:29-30 the Lord speaks of reward for those who leave behind (sacrifice) family relationships, homes and vocations (fields) for His sake and the gospel.  We are all called to labor for Christ, not ‘vacation’ for Christ!
  6. If one is asked to make a strategic job change or physical move for the sake of contributing to the advancement of the gospel and helping fulfill our God-given mission, there may be reasons for not accepting the invitation.  These reasons must be more than, “I just don’t want to move or do this.”  Or, “I don’t sense that this is best.”  Just as the reason for suggesting the change should be more than, “You’ve been there a long time and need a new challenge.”
  7. If there are sound reasons for saying ‘no’ and we decide to withdraw an invitation, we must not hesitate to return and make a different ask at some time in the future.  We will want to discern if it truly was a wrong ‘fit’ issue or just a personal desire not to change or move.  World-changing mission will require sacrifice, change and mobility to advance the gospel among the lost.

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”    Luke 18:29-30  ESV

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.    Romans 12:1  ESV

Making Wise Personnel Decisions -1

For Kingdom leaders, personnel decisions can be the most time-consuming and challenging of all the decisions you make.  The complexity of these decisions is due to the many considerations involved:  What’s best for the strategic mission?, What’s best for the person / their family?, What’s the best timing for this decision?, What are the short-term and long-term implications for both the person and the mission?, etc.  It may seem like you never have all the information you want or need when you have to make the final decision.

Below are some guiding principles and ideas on how to make wise personnel hiring decisions.

Keys for hiring the right people 

  1. Know, believe and be convinced that the Lord will provide all the resources you need to accomplish all that He is asking you to do – including any personnel needs that you may have.
  2. Have a clearly defined role – job description that you are seeking to fill.  Even for entry level positions it will help in recruiting if you have a well-thought through job description (in writing) that you can show to potential candidates with details of their responsibilities and opportunities / benefits.
  3. For Kingdom leaders, our recruiting must include the candidate’s personal calling and the  alignment of their calling to our ministry – mission.  Because of the nature of Kingdom work and the sacrifices asked (i.e. a pay scale often not commensurate with marketplace pay), we want to recruit and hire those who the Lord is calling to join us. This is not just a job that people are being asked to do.  Rather, it is a God-given mission and we are asking people to ‘leave their nets’ and join us in its fulfillment.  It will cost them much to engage with us, but Jesus promises to provide for those who serve Him.  Mark 10:29-30
  4. If they join us just to meet a need, because of the adventure of mission, to co-labor with their friends or some other reason than being called by God, they will soon find reasons to doubt their acceptance of the role.  The costs they will be asked to pay or future challenging and difficult experiences (failures) they may experience will quickly lead to second-guessing their decision to join with us.  This coupled with the enemy sowing seeds of doubt in their hearts and minds will lead them to quit.
  5. Having a clear sense of God’s calling will help us persevere in the difficult times, knowing that the Lord has led us here and He will never forsake us or abandon us.  Rather, He will strengthen us and see us through as we take refuge in Him.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10  ESV

Year End Reflection

What a year 2020 has been!!!!  As we end one and begin a new calendar year, it’s good to pause and reflect upon what was and what we hope will be.  It is through reflection that we can gain perspective and see more clearly the overarching, God-orchestrated, macro movements of our lives.

Leaders are often too busy to stop and reflect.  We always have more things to do and people to see.  We take one item off of the do-list and add three more!  Who has time to stop and think?

Today…..now is the time to stop and reflect upon who you are becoming and what you are doing!  Your personal diary, journal or devotional notebook can be of great help to you as you look back and observe themes or topics the Lord has been addressing in you.  Here are some questions to get you started in this reflection time.

Are you satisfied with your own personal spiritual walk and growth?  More importantly, is Jesus pleased with your pursuit of Him?  How’s your current pace of life?  Is it sustainable long-term?  Do you have a margin in your schedule?  Are you living and leading from an overflow?  How’s your family doing?  Are you paying the price to experience the marriage you committed to on your wedding day?  Are you investing deeply in your children and grandchildren, knowing that the years for significant influence are rapidly passing you by?

What fears are you trying to ignore related to your leadership?  Are you leading with faith and courage?  Are you more concerned about your reputation or God’s glory?  Is the vision of where you are leading to focused or foggy?  Do you have a team that is unified and empowered around a shared vision?  Are you making progress in the God-given mission that you intended to accomplish?

These and many more questions are helpful for taking stock of where you are today and where you intend to be/go tomorrow.  Use this season for reflection and refocus as you start a new year full of new hope and new beginnings.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.    Hebrews 12:1-2  NIV

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Silent Night

Until the Middle Ages there was no congregational singing in Christian churches.  Trained choirs sang chants and monotonous songs.  After the Christmas services, the church members would often gather in the streets to sing songs about the birth of Jesus, called ‘carola.’  Martin Luther introduced congregational singing to the churches during the Protestant Reformation and the singing of Christmas carols became part of our Christmas celebrations as we remember the birth of our Savior.

“Silent Night” is the most popular Christmas carol.  This beloved carol was first written and sung on Christmas Eve in Obendorf, Austria in 1818.  Joseph Mohr was a young priest who had written the words to the hymn two years previously, but now refined it as he walked in the snow, house-to-house, inviting his church members to the worship service that evening.

Returning to his church, the priest asked the church organist, Franz Gruber, to put a melody to the lyrics he had composed.  The organist did so, but reminded the priest that the church organ was broken and not functioning.  They would have to use different accompaniment that night instead of the usual organ.  Thus, Silent Night, was sung for the first time at the Christmas Eve service that evening, but it was sung to guitar as Gruber led the congregation in worship!

From this small and seemingly insignificant beginning in an obscure village in Austria the carol, Silent Night, has moved around the world and passed from generation to generation as our most beloved Christmas carol.

Don’t despise small beginnings!

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.    Luke 2:6-11  NIV

Merry Christmas!!!!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: