Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

A Shelter Day in the Ministry – Part 1

The following is from my “archives” and a great reminder of a timeless truth for leaders.

Taking It from the Top
Moody Monthly – December 1991    Dr. Wayne Hopkins

I guess every warrior wrestles occasionally in his sleep. I certainly do! David did at times  (Ps 6:6, 42:3 77:2).

The Bible suggests that sleep and dreams in the night, or the lack thereof, gauge how well I do in the day (Ecc 5:3, Is 29:7-8). Indeed, God desires me to have sweet dreams (Ps 4:8).

As the Searcher of all hearts and the Knower of all thoughts (2 Ch 32:31), however, He may grind on me at night in my sleep (Ps 17:3; Heb 4:12-13). He may prod me to cooperate; to do some soul-searching myself on a sleepless night, instead of turning to Sominex or a nightcap (Ps 4:4; 63:6).

Perhaps He seeks to fuss about something ajar or amok in my life (Job 33:14-18). God cradles some, others He clobbers or torments during the night (Isa 50:11). Sleep disorders for some, due to their lifestyle, are such that money, no matter what the amount, cannot buy them sleep (Ecc 5:12). Nightmares, sleepwalking, early arousals, or the like, may serve as a divine alarm, which produces a warning about a spiritual or emotional problem. The problem left unchecked could blaze into a multiple alarm, i.e., physical sickness (Ps 38-3-18). Merely turning off the buzzer is not the object; determining the cause and putting out the fire is.

It seems that God may resort to the night shift with me when He cannot get through on the day shift (Ps 25:8-9). Perhaps in the daytime I am too baffy, bawdy, or busy, but I must collapse or crash somewhere, someplace. Then, there He is (Ps 107:4-32; 139:1-12).

God’s preferred plan, I believe, is that I need one day each week for Him to punch me down, purge me out, patch me up, and mold me back, after six days of duking, drubbing and drifting (Ps 64:4). Fundamentally my soul craves solitude with Him for recuperation (Ps 55:4-8; 84:1-2). Now, a full day of retreat will not replace nor diminish time spent with God each day in prayer, meditation, and study. The Shelter Day is an addition. David, certainly an enterprising administrator, like Daniel, prayed three times a day (Ps 55:17).

But I need at least one major in-take period…; a time of seclusion (Mk 1:35; Heb 4:9); a time for replenishing me deepest wells. Hence, the S Day must be a quiet, study day.

The S Day is not the time for direct sermon or lesson preparation per se’, for that is work, draining the well. On the S Day the well is allowed to recharge. Later, when the well is brimful, sermon construction is quicker. Without the S Day, the well has little time to recover before the bucket bangs the bottom again, scooping up mud and mush…

…The S Day, to reload the heart and soul with premium gusto should be Word centered (Ps 119:92; Mt 4:4; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17), in a cloistered haven. Here I suggest a simple, meditative reading first, then rereading the biblical text (Deut 17:18-20: Ezra 7:10). It is not unthinkable that, in this manner, the entire Bible could be read a half-dozen times each year.

Second, endeavor to outline. Outlining forces critical thinking as one seeks for the theme, message, and logical development of a paragraph, chapter, or book…

Third, study inductively. Original outlining requires it, of course. Collecting references and thoughts, too, (perhaps on 3×5 cards) on relevant topic helps. These topic headings are personal, arising out of one’s life, ministry, and interests…

…compile a growth log. Here one keeps notes and dates on fresh insights. This is not a diary or journal, but a record of added wisdom, jotted down not only on the S day, but as thoughts surface on any day.

Perhaps these S Day study-tips will allow one’s pool to be restocked and flooded with fresh, cool, and living waters from Jesus Christ Himself (Ps 19:7-11; 25:4-5)…

Hence, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in a sheltered place” (Ps 4:8).

Do you have your scheduled Shelter Day – a day of reflection, meditation on God and His Word, and study?  It need not be weekly, but it does need to be regular.  Is it on your calendar?

Finish What You Started!

In Hebrews 1:14 we read, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”  Angels are God’s servants who are sent on various missions of service to accomplish His purposes.

In John 17:18 we find Jesus praying for those who would believe on Him in the future, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”  We too are people on a mission – to accomplish God’s purposes in and through us.  And of course, this compelling vision is to disciple the nations for Him (Matthew 28:18-20).  Once we have completed our God-given purpose or mission we will end our life and enter His presence.  “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.”

God is missional in His purposes.  The Bible opens with God at work in Creation and Jesus testifies that, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”  Adam was created in God’s image and, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

As Kingdom leaders we are called to accomplish God’s purposes – to a mission or task. We are called to lead and to work.  It is God’s job to identify the mission and it is our job to join with Him in completing the work He gives us to do.

It is not enough just to begin this work or mission.  We are called to bring it to completion.  It is Jesus example that compels us, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4).

Paul exhorts his co-laborer Archippus in Colossians 4:17:  “Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”

What have you begun that is either taking longer or much more effort than what you thought it would take?  Are you weary and considering quitting?  Did not God call you to accomplish a mission or task?  His calling was not to begin and quit half-way through.  Bring it to completion!  Finish what you started!  Do it for Him!

Thriving Under Poor Leadership

As I talk with other leaders, especially the younger emerging leaders, they will frequently express their frustration in the lack of good leadership that they are experiencing from their own supervisors.  They will say, “Tom, I know what good leadership is and my leader is a lousy leader!  How can I reach my potential and learn to lead well while I am stuck with this kind of leader over me?”

This experience is not uncommon.  I will often remind these young leaders that one day they too will be supervising others and then perhaps their own direct reports will be expressing frustration with them because of their leadership.  No leader is perfect.  And serving under imperfect leadership is no excuse for not growing as a leader.

Jacob served a very imperfect leader–his father-in-law, Laban.  Not only did Laban deliberately deceive Jacob into taking Leah as his first wife instead of his beloved Rachel, but he broke or changed employment contracts and agreements with Jacob.  This was all done so that Laban might prosper at the expense of Jacob.  Laban wanted to “win” and that meant the Jacob must “lose.”

But there was one over-arching factor that did not let this intentional deceit reach it’s desired end.  That factor was God Himself!  For God watched over Jacob and protected him from the evil and intentional deceit Laban planned for Jacob.  And at the end of his service, Jacob has this testimony about his period of service:  “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me.  You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength,yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times.  However, God has not allowed him to harm me.” (Genesis 31:5-7)

Not only was Jacob protected from the evil intended by a bad leader (his own father-in-law no less), but God caused Jacob to prosper under Laban’s poor leadership.  And Jacob served under Laban for 20 years!  Not exactly a short-term of service!

So what can we learn from Jacob’s example (and other examples like Joseph and Daniel)?  God is bigger than any leader over you and He will not allow that leader to frustrate or hinder the plans He has for you.  You need not worry that you won’t develop or reach your potential as a leader due to poor leadership over you.  In fact, God can and will use this leader and their leadership to build you up and make you prosper, even if they intend to harm you.  He is able and He will do it!

Don’t seek to flee or run out from under poor leaders.  Trust God and submit to them.  Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (study Jabob’s example of how he served under Laban).  And watch God do “above and beyond what you can ask or imagine.”

What Generals Do

One of the challenges faced by leaders is to determine what they, and only they, can and must do.  And once this is identified, how to stay focused on this and not be diverted into the daily “leadership whiteout” of responding to the demands of others.

Gen. Freddie Franks, commander of VII Corps in Desert Storm, provides some good advice for leaders on what they should focus on.  Tom Clancy recorded this advice in his book, “Into the Storm: A Study in Command” (page 637).

Responsibilities of Generals

I believe generals get to focus on and solve big problems in peace and war.  They must know details and occasionally dip into those, but essentially they must figure out the few deciding issues or battles for their times and conditions and focus their energies on those.  These are what I called points of main effort.  They cannot be many.  You have to decide what they are, and make them stick.

  • Generals must have an imagination that lets them visualize what needs to be.  They must synthesize to create a whole when others cannot see, and then communicate that whole with so much clarity and so much conviction that others will see it, too, and follow it.  That is command.  That is leadership at the senior levels.
  •  Generals decide where to be bold and where not to be bold.
  • They must be strong and decisive, yet they must also keep their ego from clouding their judgments.  Instead, they must use that ego to stick to doing what is right, even in the face of adversity.
  • Generals decide where to intervene and where not to intervene.
  • They decide where to tolerate imperfection and where not to tolerate imperfection.
  • They must be intensely competitive.  They must hate to lose.
  • They need to demand a climate of dignity and respect, and to know that to lead is also to serve.  They can do a lot of good for individuals every day.
  • They must continue to grow.  They must not be complacent.
  • If they can, they should rest easy in the saddle and have a sense of humor.  Smile once in a while.
  • If generals can remember “Don’t worry, General, we trust you,” and do their best to fulfill that trust, they will have done their duty.”

Have you thought through what you and only you must do as the leader?  Have you made the difficult decisions to say no to many other things in order to stay focused on what you and only you must do?

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