Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

The Life-long Learner

Nothing so stifles a leader as an attitude of, “I already know that” or “Yes, I mastered that some time ago.”  This attitude of “I’ve arrived” has its roots in pride and destroys one’s ability lead effectively.

God does not take the sin of arrogance lightly.  Three times (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5) He says that He opposes (actively works against) the proud person.  We will learn humility, either by humbling ourselves or having God humble us.  The choice is ours as to the means.

The learning leader is humble enough to admit that one never arrives.  Yes, we may gain altitude in some areas, but it’s all relative.  Altitude compared to what or whom is what’s important.  Comparing ourselves to others often leaves us feeling good about ourselves.  But comparing ourselves to Christ should quickly remind us of how far we have to go.  Look up, not around!

Good leaders are learners.  They are not learned in the eyes of the world necessarily (Luke 10:21, 1 Corinthians 1:26), but they are ever striving to develop in areas of character, skills, and abilities; seeking to maximize their potential impact and  for Christ.  They set the pace for others in their personal pursuit of God and their service for Him, always sensing how far they need to go, not how far they’ve come.

From where do leaders learn?  There are multiple sources, but let me suggest two.  One primary source for learning is from those who are older.  Job 8:8-9 says, “Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing.”  From what older person are you mining their years of experience and wisdom?

A second important source for a leader’s learning is from observing what goes on around us.  In Proverbs 24:32 we read, “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.”  Rushing from one thing to the next greatly hinders the learning one can do from observing.  We must take the time to stop, think and reflect.  When was the last time you just took some extended time to think about life, your family, your ministry or some other important issue?

Learning leaders are also passing on what they learn to others.  Jesus and Paul modeled this well.   Jesus learned and passed it on to his friends, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).  Paul says to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others”( 2 Timothy 2:2).  Are you passing along what you are learning?  Who looks to you for coaching, mentoring or discipling help?

Maintaining a learning mode throughout life continually increases our effectiveness for Christ as leaders.  But what we learn is not for us only.  We can use it to help others.  Let others benefit from the things God is teaching you.  Perhaps we should begin by sharing more with our friends, spouses, and children.

Lust, Immorality, and Leaders

Perhaps, like me, you have been amazed at the number of gifted leaders who have fallen into moral collapse.  I ask myself how could this happen?  Could this happen to me?  I’m sure that, like me, you desire to finish the race well.  How can we avoid this trap that has entangled so many?

Below are two summaries on the process of lust and immorality as seen from the man’s and woman’s perspective.  The process for the man was outlined in an article by Phil Parshall titled, The Tiger of Lust – The Downward Path of Moral Ruin.  The process for women was contributed by a missionary wife, Mrs. Fran Love.  Study them and then do some self examination.

A Man’s Path of Moral Ruin

1.             Enjoyment of another woman’s company

2.             Appreciation of her body

3.             Thoughts of physical lust

4.             Emotional desire

5.             Initiation of casual encounters

6.             Mutual arrangement for frequent meetings

7.             The first lustful touch

8.             Total deceit with one’s wife

9.             Intimacy without full sex

10.          The physical act of adultery

A Woman’s Path of Moral Ruin

1.             Enjoyment of another man’s personality

2.           Attraction towards his status (he’s a leader, popular, etc.) and his looks (manly, sexy, etc.)

3.             Trying to attract his attention by whatever means is considered appropriate (nothing overt, all done very smoothly and imperceptibly)

4.             Flattered by his reciprocating interest

5.             Development and expansion of a fantasy thought life  –  emotional desire

6.             Initiation of casual encounters with great pains taken to ensure that you are made-up and dressed up as attractively as possible

7.              Romantic desire  –  no physical touch even necessary;  the “romance” of it all is stimulating enough

8.             Total deceit with one’s husband

9.             Intimacy without full sex

10.          The physical act of adultery

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.    Proverbs 27:12

May we learn from the mistakes of others and avoid the pitfall of immorality that has ruined many!

Leading Like Jesus

It’s hard to critique a leader of whom others said “he does all things well.”  How do you select out what made Jesus great?  He was perfect!  Everything about Him is great!

Yet, when I think of Jesus’ leadership, what impresses me most are two things.  He was a leader who brought value to those who interacted with Him.  And he was a leader who developed other leaders to the point where they were able to lead in His place.

Jesus did many things in His ministry:  redemption, the founding of a new movement, selection and development of leaders for this movement, a compassion ministry to felt needs, etc.  But one thing seems to be consistent in all;  Jesus brought added value to the lives of those He touched.  He left people feeling grateful for His presence or interaction with them, whether a brief encounter or a ministry to them of several years.

I want my leadership be one where those impacted feel that there is added value because of my intervention in their lives.  As a leader, I am called to add value (i.e. vision, motivation, encouragement, assessment, counsel, resources, development, etc.) to the lives of those I am leading.  I want to leave those with whom I interact being desirous of more time together, rather than feeling grateful that I’m finally gone.  They will want more if there is a sense that I add value to their lives.

Secondly, Jesus selected and developed other leaders to continue on past His life on earth.  All leaders have a ‘life span’ of power and influence.  This will quickly pass.  What is it that will last when our leadership is finished?  I desire to leave behind a new generation of leaders who will carry on long after I have left the scene.

Some call this “leading with a developmental bias.”  We always lead with a eye on the next generation, seeking to identify those whom God has gifted to lead the work for that  generation.  We then begin to build into their lives, helping to develop them to their potential in Christ, so that they are well prepared to lead when we are gone.

Bringing value to the lives of those He led and developing the next generation of leaders is what made Jesus a great leader.

Sacrificial Leadership

Sacrifice means, “to give something up for the sake of something of higher value.”  Sacrificial living (and leading) is to give up our own lives for the purpose of following Christ.  Jesus modeled the perfect sacrificial life by giving His very life for the sins of mankind.  It is this type of lifestyle, one that chooses to live for others instead of self, that models real love for people (John 15:12-14).

Sacrificial living is a daily decision, not a one time event.  Paul urges us to, “….offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1).”  We are to continually offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices as an act of worship to God for all He has done for us.  He died for us!  Living for Him is the least we can do!

Jesus reminds us that being His disciple means, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  To follow Christ means that we must first deny ourselves.  That is, give up all rights to our own plans, desires, dreams and hopes for our lives and let God determine our future.  It is an abandonment of self into the loving hands of God.  Secondly, we must take up our cross daily.  To the first century audience, the picture of a person carrying a cross meant that they were condemned to death by the Roman government.  They had no future – only death.  Jesus uses this picture to illustrate that this death to self is to be daily, not just a one time decision.  Each and every day we must choose to live for Christ and die to self.

Sacrificial living goes against the wisdom of this world.  The world says to seek self-gratification.  “If it feels good do it!”  The implication being, if it doesn’t feel good, then it should not be acted upon.  To choose to deny self in order to gain the opportunity to serve God is something that will be hard for others to understand.

Sacrifice is painful!  It cost God’s Son His life! There are no guarantees we will live a pain-free life.  God does not apologize for asking much of His followers.  It is His right.  He owns us.  He bought us with His own blood.  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

But God also promises us that whatever cost we are asked to pay in denying self and following Him He will repay multiple times over. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).  Therefore, whatever has been sacrificed for Christ, when compared with what has been gained in return, will not seem to be too great a cost to pay.

Leaders who model this type of sacrificial leadership entrust themselves and their leadership impact to God.  They will model the same type of leadership that Nehemiah did in Nehemiah 5:14-19:  Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor.  But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels[a] of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that.  Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall…In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.

And these type of sacrificing leaders will pray as Nehemiah did, “Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.”

The Need of the Hour

The world is in crisis today.  It is not a political crisis, though it has political implications.  It is not an economic crisis, though economics are affected.  It is not a social crisis, though all levels of society are impacted.  It is a spiritual crisis brought on by the people of God themselves.  There is a spiritual poverty, a lack of vitality in the believer’s walk and talk that has led to mediocrity in the Christian world today.  This mediocre life of the believer has left the Christian world with a muted  witness and an emasculated impact on society.  What is needed is a transformation in the Christian world.  What is needed is a generation of believers who will live a radical life (radical in the eyes of the world, but not to God); a life that seeks the world to come, not this world.

The word “mediocre” finds its origin in two Latin words meaning “half way” and “mountain.”  Mediocre means to only get half way up the mountain.  A mediocre Christian life is one that begins its journey aiming for the top of the mountain, but then settles for only half way to the summit.  What is needed today is a generation of young people who will decide to reach for the summit in the Christian life and settle for nothing less until they reach it.  There will be no compromise along the way.  There will be opportunities to bow out, to give in to the tide of the world, but this generation will set their face like a flint and go for broke.  They will be satisfied with nothing less than God’s best—serving Him with their whole heart!

Hippolomy was a mythical, Greek young man who was in love with the beautiful Atlanta.  Atlanta, in addition to her striking beauty, was also a gifted runner, but she had a cruel, sadistic character.  Many young men became infatuated with her beauty and desired to marry her.  These men were challenged to a foot race with two conditions.  If the man won the race, he could marry Atlanta.  But if he lost, he would pay with his life.  Many a man tried and paid the ultimate price for his second place finish.

Hippolomy also became mesmerized by Atlanta’s beauty and challenged her to a race.  Shortly after the race began he fell behind.  Reaching into his tunic, he withdrew a golden apple and threw it in front of the streaking Atlanta.  The flash of gold caught her eye and she stopped to pick up the golden fruit as Hippolomy raced by.  She soon recovered and again moved ahead of him.  Hippolomy pulled a second golden apple from his tunic and threw it in front of Atlanta who once again stopped to pick it up.  As Hippolomy passed the crouching Atlanta, she realized that the race was nearing the finish, and she recovered soon enough to regain a comfortable lead with a short distance to go.

Hippolomy retrieved the last of his golden apples from his tunic and threw it ahead of Atlanta as she approached the finish.  Atlanta was in a quandary; should she stop and pick up the apple or press for the finish line  She reasoned that she certainly could do both, so she stopped to place the golden fruit in her robe just as Hippolomy raced passed her towards the finish.  She recovered, but now with such a short distance to the finish line, she was not able to beat him.  Hippolomy had won!

This is not an illustration on how to find a life partner!  Rather, as we race through life, we will find the enemy of our souls rolling “golden apples” of opportunity, compromise, and temptation in our path.  These golden fruits will be attractive, and we will be tempted to believe that they will not impact our life’s race.  We will think that we can have it all and still finish well.  It will only be near the end of our life’s race that we’ll find that we can’t reach the finish, the summit, God’s best, because we chose to stop our race along the way. We thought it was only for a moment, that no one would know or care, but a moment’s compromise will lead to a mediocre, half way life.

What the world needs today is a new generation of believers who will say “no” to this world’s values and live for the unseen world promised by Christ.  The reality of heaven will so impact the lives of this generation that they will not compromise or settle for anything less that than God’s best for themselves and those around them.  They will give themselves unreservedly to Christ–a generation whose watchword will be, “Anything, anywhere, anytime–for Christ!”

Living for the World to Come   Copyright 1996 by Thomas R. Yeakley  pg 1

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