Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

A Leader’s Vision

A leader needs to lead towards a vision.  A good leader does not need to be the one who comes up with the vision.  In fact, that may be best done with a leadership team.  But once the vision is clear, team leaders are the primary communicators of the vision.  These leaders must see more, see farther, and see more clearly than those they lead.  Without clear vision a leader becomes one of the “blind leading the blind” and we settle for activity rather than accomplishment of God’s purposes.

When we say a leader needs to “see more” what we intend is that a leader needs to be able to see the whole, not just the individual parts.  They must be able to think and lead systemically, noting how one decision can impact the whole, not just the immediate parts.  Much like a fine watch that has multiple interconnected gears, so is leadership at an organizational level.  One change can have ramifications at multiple levels.  A leader with vision sees the immediate impact, but can also anticipate impacts on multiple levels.

The second type of vision that is needed by a leader is the ability to “see farther” into the future.  It is that gaze towards the horizon that sees what is coming before others and that prepares one to take advantage of changes thrust upon us or protect others from this change.  This vision truly needs to be bifocal – seeing what is up close and immediate as well as seeing what is coming towards us in the future.  Many get so consumed by the immediate that they are taken by surprise by what arrives on their doorstep.  Much like the approaching tsunami, when the water recedes away from the beach we know that there is an impending wave coming.  Rather than rushing towards the receding water to collect the newly exposed sea shells, we move rapidly away from the beach to high ground because we know what will soon follow.

A third type of vision is that good leaders need to “see more clearly” the issues surrounding their leadership.  This type of vision involves focus as well as depth perception.  A focused vision is one that does not get distracted by the clamor around them.  It is laser-like in intensity knowing that this is a God-given mission that we do for His glory and we do knowing that we will be accountable to Him.  This clarity has depth perception in that it takes into consideration the various dimensions of any issue.  A good leader is able to see multiple sides of an issue, weighing the pros and cons, embracing different points of view, and is willing to change his or her thoughts when confronted with weightier arguments.

Vision – don’t try to lead without it!  Have you had your vision checked recently?

A Calling to Indirect Leadership

One of the most difficult transitions for young, emerging leaders to make is the move from ‘doing the ministry’ to ‘leading the ministry’.  Church growth experts refer to this as a shift from ‘shepherding’ to ‘ranching’.  Many young leaders are asked to move from a grass-roots ministry (direct ministry) to leading others in the ministry (indirect ministry) because they have been faithful and ‘successful’ in their local responsibility.

The transition from doing the ministry directly to leading others as they do the ministry is a challenge for some.  This is not to say that leaders don’t continue to ‘do ministry’, but now their primary contribution will be overseeing and shepherding others, perhaps a ministry team, whose primary role will be direct ministry.  What are some of the difficulties in this transition and how can we overcome them?

To overcome one of the primary difficulties in a transition to leadership we need to have a sense of calling from the Lord.  If a person is not convinced that God has called them to leave their current role in order to assume a larger responsibility for overseeing others, there will be multiple opportunities for second-guessing the wisdom of the decision.  We must have a clear calling from God that He wants us to serve in this capacity at this time.  There should be a sense of destiny, that God has prepared us for this role and responsibility.  We must be convinced that our greatest contribution to the Kingdom at this time is in leading others, rather than doing the ministry directly.

When doing direct ministry we often receive affirmation and ‘strokes’ from those we serve.  We help them know Christ and grow in their walk with Him.   But in leadership we often hear of the problems from those we lead and affirmation for our contribution as a leader can be lacking.  A leader must find his/her strength and encouragement from the Lord and not from people (1 Samuel 30:6).

For those who serve with organizations whose members live from gift income, the financial challenge can be shattering.  When doing direct ministry we are constantly expanding the base of new people in our ministry who perhaps eventually will become part of our donor support team.  But in leadership we are now leading others who are living from gift income and we can’t expect them to join our donor team.  It takes great faith to trust that the God who calls us to leadership will also provide for us as we serve.  One of my favorite promises in this regard is Mark 10:29-30.

Leadership is challenging enough without adding to our stress load.  Have a clear sense of calling from God and trust Him to provide and care for you and your family.  You’ll find Him faithful and your leadership will be used to further His Kingdom!

Leadership Team Responsibilities

Leadership team members have a unique relationship one to another.  They are often thrown together and told to function as a team because the leader chose them.  But they were chosen individually, most often without much say as to who else joined the team.  We may or may not be “naturally” drawn to our teammates.  Though we are united on our mission and vision, our personalities, backgrounds, or interests may present challenging obstacles to our effectiveness as a leadership team.

How do we relate to one another on a leadership team?  What are our responsibilities to each other?  No doubt you could list several, but let me suggest two that I see in the Word.

In John 13:1-17 Jesus models the attitude of a servant before his leadership team.  After finishing, in vv. 13-14 he says, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”  Jesus’ instructions to “wash one another’s feet” were given to explain how the members of His leadership team were to relate to each other.  They were to serve each other, choosing to meet the needs of fellow team members rather than promote or serve one’s own self interests.  As members of a leadership team we have a responsibility to serve one another, helping each other become a success in our individual responsibilities.

In Acts 20:28 we see another responsibility.  Paul had gathered the Ephesian elders together for some final words and he reminds them, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”  We often neglect to notice the first part of this passage.  The members of the Ephesian leadership team were to “keep watch over [them]selves.”

Yes, I am my brother’s keeper!  We have a responsibility to one another on our leadership team to make sure we continue to walk with God, fulfill our family responsibilities, and fulfill our leadership calling.  Spiritual leadership requires the utmost in Christlike character and we are to “keep watch” on that as well, as we fulfill our duties.

‘Serving each other’ and ‘keeping watch over each other’ are two of our responsibilities as leadership team members.  Let’s not be so focused on the outward responsibilities related to our leadership roles that we neglect to fulfill the responsibilities to those on our team.

Teams and Teamwork

Leadership Teams

 It is evident that no one individual has all that is necessary to bring the best leadership to any Kingdom enterprise.  Because no one leader can do everything well we must lead with a team.  My experience is that good teams are hard to come by, but when you experience one you will never forget it.  Remember, when talking about leadership and teams we mean a leader and his / her team, not team leadership.

Following are some additional thoughts related to teams and teamwork:

 New Testament Leadership Team Models

  1. Elder model
  2. Apostolic model  –  Jesus and his team    —   a training team
  3. Apostolic model  –  Paul and his team     —   a task/mission oriented team

Team:  a group of people who need each other in order to accomplish the task

Leadership Team Models in the Great Commission

             Apostolic                                     Elder

Go to the nations….               and            …teach them everything

Paul                                                                 Philemon  /  Archippus

mobile                                                             local

sodality                                                           modality

para-local church                                       local church

Team Synergy:  comes from group think concerning individual team member’s portfolio items and group work on specific tasks for a limited time

Team Leaders Must:           1.   Listen    2.  Learn   3.   Love    4.   Lead

 May God give you the special privilege of leading a team of other leaders!

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