Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

The ‘Confrontational’ Model of Jesus

Jesus is often viewed as the ultimate model of contextualization.  He left His glory, taking upon Himself the likeness of man, in order to communicate the message of the Kingdom of God (Phil. 2:5-8).  “Jesus himself is in fact the most obvious contextualization of the revelation of God.  He is himself the logos of God who appeared as a man and was able to communicate to people completely on terms which were understandable to them.”[1]  Jesus took upon himself the form of a man and lived the life of a Jewish rabbi.  “He willingly submitted to certain restrictions and yet overcame them to accomplish his mission.”[2]

Yet, though Jesus did adapt Himself to the target culture He was seeking to reach (i.e. the Jews), He did not always follow the cultural norms of the day. Sometimes He deliberately violated the cultural practices and values of the Jews because the practices and values of the Kingdom of God were in conflict with their culture.  In such cases, the Kingdom’s values took precedent and He willingly accepted the opposition, scorn, and misunderstanding that followed from the Jews.

Let’s note a few of the examples where Jesus did not follow the Jewish cultural norms of His day.

[1]        Jesus talked to a Samaritan woman  –  John 4:1-27

It was not culturally appropriate for Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, to talk to a woman, especially since she was a Samaritan, for the Jews disliked the Samaritans very much.

[2]        Jesus traveled through Samaria  –  Luke 9:51-56

Because of Jewish disdain for the Samaritans, a Jew would go out of his way to not come into contact with them.  This included crossing to the east side of the Jordan River when traveling between Judea and Galilee.

[3]        Jesus and His disciples did not fast  –  Mark 2:18-22

It was the practice of the devout Jews to fast regularly.  The Pharisees fasted twice a week.

[4]        Jesus did not do the ceremonial washings before eating  –   Mark 7:1-8; Luke 5:29-32

The Pharisees would go through a series of washings before eating to remove any defilement from entering their body.

[5]        Jesus touched lepers  –  Mark 1:40-42

Lepers were considered unclean and to have contact with them was considered most defiling.

[6]        Jesus touched the dead  –  Luke 7:11-17; 8:51-56

Dead bodies were also considered a source of defilement for a Jew.

[7]        Jesus was anointed by a sinful woman  –  Luke 7:36-50

Prostitutes and the like were considered sinners and were to be avoided as they were a source of defilement.

[8]        Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners  –  Luke 5:29-32; 19:1-10

The same attitude was held for tax collectors as for other sinners (i.e. prostitutes).

[9]        Jesus healed (worked) on the Sabbath  –  Mark 3:1-4; Luke 6:6-11; 13:10-17; 14:1-14

The Jews had developed an elaborate set of rules and regulations to avoid breaking the fourth commandment of keeping the Sabbath holy.

[10]      Jesus’ disciples worked on the Sabbath  –  Mark 2:23-28

The act of picking the grain was considered work (i.e. threshing or harvesting).

[11]      Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their cultural practice of Corban  –  Mark 7:9-23

To avoid the responsibility of caring for their parents, a Jew could declare that whatever personal resources might have been used to care for them were now dedicated to God.  Thus, they were exempt from this responsibility of caring for their parents.

[12]      Jesus instructed a man not to bury his father  –  Luke 9:51-53

It was the responsibility of the children (particularly the eldest male) to bury their parents and settle the estate.

[13]      Jesus cleansed the temple of the money changers  –  Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:46; John 2:13-22

It was the custom of the Jewish leaders to allow the money changers (bankers) to set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles of the temple three weeks before a major feast.  Here they exchanged the foreign money of the pilgrims for local money used for offerings and sold animals for sacrifice, all for a hefty profit.  Some have estimated the bankers’ profits at from forty thousand to forty-five thousand dollars. [3]

There are times as leaders when we will have to ‘swim against the cultural tide’ in order to see the change implemented that we are pursuing.  It will take faith and courage to persevere.  May we not be found wanting!


[1]  Watney, Paul B.    Contextualization and Its Biblical Precedents

Fuller Theological Seminary   PhD Thesis, 1985,  p. 218

[2]  Hopler, Thom  A World of Difference

Inter Varsity Press   Downers Grove, IL  1981  p. 65

[3]  Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 3rd Edition

Moody Press   Chicago, Illinois  1966  p. 757

A Leader’s Need for Guidance

No doubt like me you are frequently reminded of the need for guidance.  What to do, where to go, how to get there, and when to do it are all questions that circulate frequently within me.  Thus, as a part of my quest for wisdom I have made it a part of my own prayer journal to ask the Lord for guidance for my life and leadership.

Below is a list of passages that I have printed in my personal prayer journal.  Most of these are prayed over as promises for guidance and guidelines for wisdom as I live and lead. And as I pray and meditate on these passages I am frequently helped to find the guidance I need for the daily challenges.

Isaiah 58:10-12    (My life promise)

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

like a spring whose waters never fail…

Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

 Revelation 3:8

I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Deuteronomy 1:33

[GOD] who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.

Proverbs 15:16 

  Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.

 Proverbs 15:17

  Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.

Proverbs 17:1

  Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

 Ecclesiastes 4:6

  Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

 May you find the guidance you need today!

A Leadership Reading List

In reflecting recently on J.O. Sanders and his impact on my life I was once again reminded of his exhortation, “Leaders are readers!”  ‘Of making many books there is no end…’ (Ecclesiastes 12:12).  And we could add our own thoughts, “Of the writing of many leadership books there is especially no end in sight!”

I am frequently asked which leadership books I would recommend to begin to read on this exciting and challenging topic.  Given the shear numbers of leadership books available, where should one begin?  Below is my recommended beginning leadership reading list.  It was compiled several years ago from my polling several leaders who were well-read and asking them for their top ten books on leadership.  Any book that made it into multiple lists was added to my recommended list.  It’s a good start for building a leadership library.

Leadership Bibliography

Books to be read for a foundational understanding of leadership

 The Bible  –  read and study this Book first as your basis for understanding the principles of spiritual leadership;  this will be the grid through which you evaluate all other teaching on the subject of leadership

Leadership Concepts

   1.      Spiritual Leadership / Sanders

  2.      Leadership is an Art  /  DePree

  3.      Leadership Jazz  /  DePree

  4.      Leaders:  Strategies for Taking Charge  /  Bennis & Nanus

  5.      Principle Centered Leadership  /  Covey

  6.      The Leadership Challenge  /  Kouzes and Posner

7.      The Making of a Leader /  Clinton

Leadership Practice

  1.      The Effective Executive / Drucker

  2.      Developing the Leader Within You  /  Maxwell

  3.      Developing the Leaders Around You  /  Maxwell

  4.      The Training of the Twelve  /  Bruce

  5.     Leading from the Sandbox   /  Addington

  6.     Leading Change  /  Kotter

7.     Biographies of great leaders  –  Dawson Trotman, Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, J.O Fraser, Adoniram Judson, Amy Carmichael, etc.

Leverage Points

Given that all resources are finite and that there are always more opportunities and demands for resources than we have available, leaders must choose to say ‘yes’ to some and ‘no’ to others.  But how to choose?  What are the considerations when allocating precious, limited resources when there are many, seemingly equally important choices?  Choosing opportunities that are leverage points can be one way to help make these choices.

A leverage point is where a small difference can make a large impact.  Leverage points provide kernel ideas and procedures for formulating solutions.

Identifying a leverage point helps us:
1.  Create new courses of action

2.  Develop increased awareness of those things that may cause a difficulty before there are any obvious signs of trouble, and figure out what is causing a difficulty.

Identifying the “leverage point” is skill #1 and is identified as “the one thing that, if changed, makes changing everything else easier.  It should be the number one priority on everyone’s agenda.”

Leaders are change agents and leaders of change processes.  Identifying and implementing leverage points will facilitate this change process moving ahead more quickly and efficiently than otherwise intended.  It will also allow you to effectively use your limited resources for the biggest impact.

What are you facing today that needs change?  What are the key leverage points needing to be addressed to get this process moving?

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