Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

Leadership is a Miracle

The following is the third excerpt from an article by R. Scott Rodin titled, “Becoming a Leader of No Reputation” that originally was published in Journal of Religious Leadership,/ Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002), pp. 105 – 119.

“I have come to the conclusion that when God uses any of us to lead effectively, it is nothing short of a miracle.  When we place the complex and demanding role of a godly leader next to an honest self-awareness of our own sinfulness and incompetence, we are thrown wholly upon the grace of God and his faithfulness if we are ever to lead anyone anywhere.

“I have come to learn that we must approach leadership in dependent humility.  Throughout history God looked to the least, the weakest, the outcast, the untalented, the sinful and the rejected to give great leadership at historic times.  And He hasn’t changed that approach today.  If we are honest as leaders, we know that we are not capable of leading as the size and complexity of our call demands.  We know that there are others more talented, more prepared, more spiritual and more courageous than are we.  But great godly leaders have always worked at that miraculous intersection where humility and faith meet the awesome presence and power of God’s Spirit.

“When God uses us to lead, and lead effectively, we should fall on our knees in wonder and thanksgiving that we have seen again this miracle worked in our midst.  However, it is far too easy for us to take ownership of this miracle and to believe that these results are due to our own wonderful abilities and leadership qualities.  If and when we make this subtle yet devastating shift, the efficacy of our leadership for the kingdom is over.  We are on our own, cut off from the power and preservation of the Spirit.  Every leader finds himself or herself there at some point in their work, and it is a terrifying place to be!

“Godly leadership is the miracle of God’s use of our earthen vessels for the glorious work of His kingdom.  To miss this miraculous aspect of leadership will threaten everything we do as leaders, and our office or study will be the loneliest place on earth.  I have come to understand the miracle of godly leadership, and its connection with self-awareness, the need to decrease and the power of God’s anointing.””

Who has been getting the credit for the results of your leadership recently?

Fighting the Need to Increase

The following is a second excerpt from an article by R. Scott Rodin titled, “Becoming a Leader of No Reputation” that originally was published in Journal of Religious Leadership,/ Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002), pp. 105 – 119.

“Most Christian leaders would say that in their hearts they would wish that Jesus would increase and they would decrease.  But it is hard to decrease in a leadership position.  There are natural trappings that distinguish those in leadership such as salary, title, prestige, priority, power, influence, honor and advancement.  And in each area there are tempting opportunities for increase.

“Perhaps the hardest place to decrease is in the influence and the power we hold over people and decisions.  For this reason we find Christian leaders who are overly directive at best, and autocratic at worst.  And as a result we produce churches and ministries that are rife with ‘learned helplessness’.  By overestimating our own worth, we help our people depend on us for everything.  And that dependence feeds into our need to be needed, to be the “idea person” and visionary, and to be in control.  We tell ourselves that the more we lead in this way, the more our leadership is valued and our presence desired.

Robert Greenleaf reminds us that the difference between a true servant-leader who is servant first, and the leader-servant who seeks leadership first, lies in the growth of the people who serve under them.  The test question is, “do those served grow as persons; do they, /while being served/, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

“Truly godly leaders empower their people, give away authority, value and involve others, seek the best in and from their people, and constantly seek to lift others up, push others into the limelight, and reward those they lead.  All so that God’s will might be done in a more powerful way.  They seek no glory for themselves, but find great joy in seeing others prosper.  They take no account of their reputation, but seek that Jesus’ face be seen in all they do.  Max DePree‘s famous definition is worth repeating, “The first responsibility of the leader is to define reality.  The last is to say thank you.  In between the leader is a servant.””

It’s time to reflect on the position of the spotlight.  Is it focused on you the leader or are you moving that focus towards others around you?

Anointed vs Appointed

The following is an excerpt from an article by R. Scott Rodin titled, “Becoming a Leader of No Reputation” that originally was published in Journal of Religious Leadership,/ Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002), pp. 105 – 119.

“I know of few Christian leaders today who were anointed before they were appointed.  We have employed the business model of doing careful searches looking for Christian leaders whom we can appoint to office.  Once in place, we then anoint them and ask God to bless their work.

“The Biblical evidence seems to indicate that God selects leaders in the opposite order.  Samuel anointed David before appointing him King.  The selection criterion for leadership was not based on who would most likely get the appointment, but whom God had anointed for this task.  And appointment without anointment always led to disaster.

“Christian leadership requires nothing less than a complete, wholesale sell-out of your life in service to God and God only.  It is the ‘losing of your life’ to the work God will do in you to benefit your institution, school, church or organization.  And the stakes are high.  Nowhere else in the Christian life will the price for divided loyalties be so costly for so many for so long.  Ineffective and fallen leaders compromise kingdom work, and the effects are eternal.

“With God’s anointing comes God’s power and presence.  There is a special blessing bestowed on God’s anointed.  It is the blessing of God’s power manifest in ways only seen through the work of God’s chosen.  God’s anointed do the miraculous because they are the servant of the Almighty.

“God’s anointed will do anything God asks… anything.  God’s anointed will seek God’s will with a passion.  They will not move without it and they will not be diverted from their course once they have it.  God’s anointed are servants first, last and always.  And God’s anointed have only one passion, to know and do God’s will that He might have the glory.  In this way, God’s anointed are people of no reputation.”

So, the next time you are in the process of selecting a leader what will you look for first?  God’s anointing or God’s appointing?

Indignation — Now I’m REALLY Ticked Off!

Emotions – they’re morally neutral–not good bad, or purple.  All of us have them and some of us are better at recognizing and expressing them in a healthy way.  When it comes to what we would perceive as those emotions that are considered “negative” emotions, it’s what we do with them that matters.

Anger is one such emotion that is often seen as a negative emotion.  We mistakenly believe that if I am more mature or more spiritual that I’ll somehow be freed from this feeling of anger.  Just becoming a little “ticked off” as someone or something raises the blood pressure and we can feel “frustrated.”  It’s anger but at a somewhat lesser degree.

But if the person has broken a trust, betrayed a confidence placed in them, or their failure leads to major negative impact, we can move beyond frustration or anger and move to indignation.  The root English word is the same we use for the color indigo – a purple, reddish color.  Have you ever been so angry that you turn purple-red and feel like you are ready to explode?  That’s indignation!

In Mark 10:13-14 (NIV) we read the following about Jesus’ emotions:  “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant (emphasis added).  We explored this in last week’s blog.

But if we continue to read in the same chapter we find this said about the disciples in Mark 10:41 (NIV):  “When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.”  The Zebedee boys had tried a pre-emptive strike to move ahead of the other 10 in the coming Kingdom.  We note that this was at the very end of their 3+ year training period with Jesus as future leaders.  And here we see that 2 of them wanted to jump ahead of the other 10.  Not a good way to win friends or influence people!  Well, they could claim it wasn’t really them.  Matthew’s account tells us that it was their mother who did the asking on their behalf (see Matthew 20:20 ff).

There were great emotions being expressed on Jesus’ leadership team.  He showed His indignation to The Twelve and they expressed their indignation with one other.  Yet with all of this the leadership team held together.  There was no fracture or lasting division.

Good teams can share strong feelings with each other and still work together well.  This comes from a foundation of trust and confidence that we are all working together towards the same ends.  Our team goals are not preempted by our personal goals.

So, is it safe to share how your really feel on your team?  Are strong emotions being expressed in appropriate ways without sin?  Can we be “gut-level honest” or are there areas that are just too sensitive to share how I really feel?

Frustrated, Angry, or Indignant?

Emotions – they’re morally neutral–not good bad, or purple.  All of us have them and some of us are better at recognizing and expressing them in a healthy way.  When it comes to what we would perceive as those emotions that are considered “negative” emotions, it’s what we do with them that matters.

Anger is one such emotion that is often seen as a negative emotion.  We mistakenly believe that if I am more mature or more spiritual that I’ll somehow be freed from this feeling of anger.  Just becoming a little “ticked off” as someone or something raises the blood pressure and we can feel “frustrated.”  It’s anger but at a somewhat lesser degree.

For instance, we delegate a responsibility to a team member and they fail to follow through on it.  If the failure has minimal consequences, we might become frustrated with them.  But if their lack of performance has major impact on the team or the mission, that frustration now moves up a notch and becomes anger.  Blocked goals often lead to frustration and anger.

But if the person has broken a trust, betrayed a confidence placed in them, or their failure leads to major negative impact, we can move beyond frustration or anger and move to indignation.  The root English word is the same we use for the color indigo – a purple, reddish color.  Have you ever been so angry that you turn purple-red and feel like you are ready to explode?  That’s indignation!

In Mark 10:13-14 (NIV) we read the following about Jesus’ emotions:  “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant (emphasis added).

Jesus was really, really mad at The Twelve for preventing the little children from coming to Him.  It was one of those ‘face turns to purple’ type anger moments.  Yet He became indignant without sinning!  He was perfect, sinless, mature, yet He still was indignant at the actions of the disciples.

It’s not the emotions that cause us problems.  It’s what we do with them that can cause us to sin.  Check your anger levels.  Are you frustrated, angry, or indignant?  More importantly, how are you expressing these to those on your leadership team and those close to you?

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