Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “June, 2014”

Solitude in the Ministry

Here’s another great reminder for busy leaders from my “archive.”

Taking it From the Top
Moody Monthly – May 1991     Dr. Wayne Hopkins

Each of us regularly needs solitude, especially those in the ministry. At least one day a week you and I, individually, must get away. Normally, Sunday is not that day! For those in the ministry, it is a battle day.

In light of what a typical servant of God routinely faces and in order to remain calm in heart and gentle in spirit, a full day with God alone every week seems to be a minimum. Streams of living water do not pour forth from barren and burned places.

Life presses on us, leaving us alarmed in heart and hard in spirit. ”The length of our days is 70 years–or 80, if we have the strength–yet their span is but trouble and sorrow; for they pass quickly, and we fly away” (Ps 90:10).

American culture structures against one literally taking a day in seven for rest and reflection. The corporate world believes, as do some hard-working Christians, that any form of “shut-down-time” is sloth and dawdle. But alcoholism, deception, divorce, superficiality, and ulcers rank high among these same folks.

Solitude, found in isolation, has several components. One, the day must be one of studying the Scriptures (Deut 17:18-20; Ezra 7:10). A soul weary with sorrow is strengthened with God’s Word (Ps 119:28). A brief quiet time, even observed every day, has never been enough.

Two, the day of solitude is constructed with stillness (Ps 37:17; 46:10). Such a day probably impossible to attain by a neurotic American, or by a guilt-driven believer, is characterized by a moratorium on activity (Ps 4:4): no chores, errands, phone calls, or TV (Isa 30:15).

Three, quietness is required (Lev 10:3). Sitting still for some does not eliminate noise. But the radio, music, Walkman, even mental racket must go. For in the long hush, not in the loud hurry, we learn about God (Ecc 5:1-7; Jer 17:19-29). Only privacy provides the silence needed for God to re-order my life, bashed and sapped from six days of mauling (Prov 17:1; Lam 3:25-33).

Four, waiting for God with patience is mandatory (Ps 5:3; 130:5-6). The rude, robust, and righteous person chafes at lingering in God’s presence for any period longer than a 30-second church prayer (Hos 8:4; 10:12-13). For a society that measures Olympic races in hundredths of a second, a full day can be an eternity. However, the barbarian heart which undercuts God’s kingdom naturally jeers at any apparent dilly-dallying or wasting of time by reposing before God (Ps 131:2; Isa 8:17).

Not uncharacteristically, Moses waited, not only 40 days on two occasions, but six days on another (Ex 24:15-18); Ezekiel tarried seven (Ezek 3:15-16); and Jesus fasted 40 (Mt 4:2). Frequently, God’s servants–e.g. Job, Abraham, Jeremiah, Elijah, Daniel, John the Baptist, and Paul–logged days in seclusion. The willingness to wait, both before Him and for Him, displays courtesy, faith, and dependency (Isa 30:18, 33:2; 40:31). Personal and work-related mission, passion, and creativity surface and flame in those hours.

Five, meditation is an absolute (Ps 1:2; 119:27). Pondering deeply the nature and the ways of God takes not only time and serenity but controlled thinking. Totally unknown to anxious Americans addicted to action, speed, work, and noise, meditation is the only vista whereby I can meet with Him (Ps 119:15,23,27,48,55,62,78,97,148; Isa 57:11). While we praise God loudly in music and testimony, we learn about Him in silence-free from distractions-as we mentally and calmly dwell on Him (Ps 86:1-17; Prov 22:17-21; Lk 10:38-42).

Six, fasting follows next (Ps 35:13). The discipline of fasting, not originally initiated for hefty American pastors or missionaries, decreases the clutter and static for the day’s devotion and, in turn, enhances solitude (Ps 69:10; 109:24). Never intended to be routine or ritualistic (Isa 58:1-14; Mt 6:16-18) or even a total abstinence, fasting portrays an inward awe for God which is particularly appropriate at critical decision times (Ezra 8:21-23;Acts 13.1-3). To consult truly with God over heavy matters in life, one’s inner contriteness and brokenness are matched by an outer withdrawal from daily routines. Jesus directed that fasting would be fitting after His departure and during His absence (Mt 9:14-15).

Seven, a prayer response to what God shows one in secret is expected (Job 42:5-6; Isa 6:5). Confession qualifies me for further illumination regarding God’s truth, whether about Him or me (Josh 9:14; 1 Ch 10:14; 15:13; 2 Ch 16:12). Some devotees ask to be taught how to pray. But as God teaches solitude and these disciplines of the soul which compose it, prayer is a natural reaction to what He discloses. Prayer without revelation is vain religion.

As serious Christians today with a penchant for action, we are impressed with David’s valor in defeating Goliath. We puzzle over how he did it, perhaps failing to notice that as a shepherd he received his boldness for the battle not from the frenzy of the freeway but from the solitude of a sheep meadow (1 Sam 17:34-37). God loves shepherds. They are known for their solitude.

Busyness is normative for leaders.  If you don’t want a busy life, then don’t lead!  But the busyness of leadership is no excuse for spending time with the King in quiet reflection, meditation, and prayer.  When’s your next time of solitude with the King?

Mentoring Gen Y Emerging Leaders

The following was a list of suggestions sent to me by Jamie and Darci Kidd, themselves emerging leaders in the Millennial generation (Gen Y).  If you are being asked to lead or mentor members of this generation you would do well to pay attention to these suggestions.

  1. Don’t come across as if you have it all together.  This platform doesn’t work with today’s younger leaders.  They know that you are more mature, more experienced, and have more knowledge.  Still, the attitude of being the “expert” just isn’t appealing.
  1. Be transparent.  Be real.  Share how you are still on the journey.  Share what the Lord is teaching you today, this week, this month, over the past six months.  It is not just your weaknesses or failures, either.  The key is they want to see that you are still learning as well.  That you are a fellow-journey-er.  That you are still in process.
  1. Be his/her fan when they share new ideas (unless it’s way off the wall).  Then help them bring it about or at least keep up with them on how it is coming – “How’s that idea coming along?”  The tendency for older mentors is that they come back with a response like, “Oh, we tried that a few years ago.  It didn’t work.  I don’t think it will work now.”  This really de-motivates the younger leader.  It is better to believe in them and help them make a go of it, even if they fail, than to kill the idea up front.  Ask them for their ideas about things.
  1. Don’t ever give up on them. Just about everyone has had a significant older person (dad, mom, coach, teacher) give up on him or her.  Be willing to walk with them through the dark phases of their growth and maturing.  There are many who won’t fit the “profile” of the leader with the “right stuff.”  They may ask difficult or controversial questions.  Stick with them.  With the number of broken homes today, many of the younger leaders are saying/asking, “My dad gave up on me.  Will you do the same?”  They view the relationship not so much as a teacher/student but more as a dad/son or mom/daughter.
  1. It’s good for the older person to initiate a meeting as well.  This communicates value.  Have an idea of why you want to meet with them.  By saying, “The reason I wanted to meet with you is that I’m thinking of exploring this topic and was wondering if you would be interested in joining me in that?” you are inviting them into your adventure of exploration.  This way, you can learn from each other.  This helps close the generation gap.
  1. Get beyond the formalized meetings (meeting at the coffee shop, for example) at some point.  Get them into your world – family, sports, hobbies, travel, etc.
  1. Young men today are part of a passive culture.  This is not just an issue of temperament.  Many young men don’t have dads who are good role-models for them.  Their dads are either absent or passive themselves.  The best way to help them with this is to put them in leadership opportunities and coach them through it.  Being entrusted with real responsibility and with others is empowering.  God made all men to be leaders of one sort or another.  It’s in them.  Help bring it out.

How’s your understanding and mentoring of the rising generation of emerging leaders from Gen Y?  Don’t let the seeming distance or dissonance discourage you from initiating a mentoring relationship that will launch a young leader into a lifetime of influence.

Leading a Generation of Free Agents

“Leading a Generation of Free Agents”   by Tim Elmore

“I just had the most intriguing conversation with a local employer in Atlanta. He told me he’s at the end of his rope–and he’s about ready to see a therapist. The reason for his duress? The college graduates he recently hired. They were driving him crazy. When I inquired about what made them so challenging, he noted the following realities he faced:

*  They came in with high expectations of relational time with him in order to be mentored

*  They wanted time off to travel and participate in volunteer organizations around the world

*  They expected a raise within the first six months, just because they showed up for work on time

*  Their mother actually set an appointment to negotiate their raise for them

If you think this sounds crazy, think again. More and more, I am meeting corporate leaders who share the same basic story. This new population of Millennial generation kids (born between 1984 and 2002) are demanding a different work environment than the previous two generations. The Baby Boomers were “anti-establishment” but those rebels made up 79 million of the population. They questioned authority. Next, the Generation Xers entered the workforce. They were smaller in number and wanted to experience authentic community within their jobs. They ignored authority. Today, the Millennials (or Generation Y) come in raising the bar for everyone. Their expectations are high and they are in demand, with so many of the Baby Boomers retiring and leaving space atop the corporate ladder. These new workers will choose their authorities.

Let me give you an analogy. More than thirty years ago, the game of baseball experienced an amazing transition. Curt Flood, of the St. Louis Cardinals, ushered in the age of Free Agency. He was the first team member to successfully demand that players should have a say as to where and how long they play with a club. Following Curt Flood’s arbitration, professional players began to expect to spend some of their career as “free agents” having a choice about such things. It was a new day of privilege and power.

This same phenomena has occurred among twenty-somethings entering the job market today. They come in as though they were “free agents.” They fully expect to dictate some of the terms of their working conditions and they are liable to quit if they don’t get what they want. Over half of Generation Y’s new graduates move back to their parents home after earning their degree, and that cushion of support gives them the time to choose the job they really want…”

You are called to lead – those who are easiest are those that are just like you.  But a mature leader knows how to lead well those that are like him or her and those who are very different.  How’s your connection with the rising generation of emerging leaders?

A Tender Heart and a Tough Hide

Cultivating a Tender Heart and a Tough Hide
by Charles R. Swindoll

For as long as I have been in the ministry I have asked the Lord for a balance between a tender heart and a tough hide. It isn’t an easy balance. In fact, the latter is more difficult to cultivate than the former. In order to be fully engaged in ministry, job number one is to have a tender heart. The challenge is developing a tough hide.

Those in ministry are especially likely to be lightning rods; we are big targets for criticism. Every passionate pastor, every Christian leader, every Christian author I know can list a litany of things that have been said and done against them, many of them unfairly.

What about you? How do you deal with judgmental remarks, those unkind put-downs made to your face or, worse, behind your back? When a neighbor mocks your version of biblical parenting, when that couple in your small group questions every decision you make, when you find out a fellow Christian you thought was your friend has been spreading rumors about you, how do you respond? Are you tough and tender or do you become brittle and bitter?

Few handle criticism well. But we’d all have to agree, there was one man who handled it with grace and grit.

In Acts 24, Paul is on the witness stand before Governor Felix while a shady lawyer named Tertullus pontificates through some trumped-up charges. As you read along in this chapter, you will notice Paul waits for the smoke to clear and then calmly steps up to give a defense. Paul’s words illustrate seven ways to maintain a tender heart and a tough hide while enduring criticism.

Number one: He refused to be caught up in the emotion of the charges. That’s the first mistake we usually make. Everything in us prefers to lash out, to protest, to cry, or simply walk out. Paul refused to overreact. His opening line is disarmingly pleasant, “I cheerfully make my defense.”

Cheerfully? By now the man ought to be blazing with indignation! Even though labeled as “a real pest” and a ringleader of a cult (see Acts 24:5), Paul graciously acknowledged the opportunity to make a defense. He refused to let his emotions take the lead.

When we lower ourselves to the overcharged emotions of accusers, our anger is unleashed. When that occurs, straight thinking caves in to irrational responses and impulsive words. Paul didn’t go there.

Number two: He stayed with the facts. He said, “You can check my record. Twelve days ago I went up to worship. You can ask those who were there.” He reported, “Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot. Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me” (Acts 24:11–13).

The apostle never blinked. He stood his ground with stubborn facts. That strategy not only kept him on target, it enhanced his credibility in the eyes of Governor Felix.

Number three: He told the truth with a clear conscience. Paul stated, “But this I admit to you . . . I do serve the God of our fathers . . . I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience . . . both before God and before men”
(Acts 24:14–16).

There is nothing like a clean conscience. It not only helps you sleep well, it keeps you thinking clearly. You have no fear that some skeleton will rattle when the investigation begins . . . because there is no skeleton!

Number four: He identified the original source of the criticism. Few things are more maddening than shadowboxing when you’re dealing with criticism. One of the worst things you can do is to spread the venom to a number of other people—your children, your parents, your friends, or a group of other Christians—rather than going to the original source of contention and addressing it. You need a tough hide to do that.

Number five: He would not surrender or quit. I love that about Paul. He’s like a pit bull on your ankle; he won’t let go! Take a moment to read 2 Corinthians 11:23–33. Beaten, bloodied, shipwrecked, harassed, endangered, run out-of-town, and falsely accused, Paul didn’t give up, let up, or shut up.

Number six: He did not become impatient or bitter. For two years Paul had been waiting for this trial. Did you know that? Yet we see no sign of bitterness. No impatience. No grudges. No ranting against the Roman authorities. Paul believed God was firmly in control of both people and events.

Number seven: He stood on the promise of God. You know what flashed through my mind when I read this passage in Acts 24? A song I’ve sung in church since I was just a kid in Sunday school.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God. . . .

Standing on the promises of Christ, the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s Sword,
Standing on the promises of God.1

Someone has said that there are over 7,000 promises in the Bible. Have you claimed one this past week? Two? Do I hear five?

How did Paul handle criticism? He refused to get caught up in the emotion of the charges. He stayed with the facts. He told the truth with a clear conscience. He identified the original source of the accusations. He refused to surrender or quit. He became neither impatient nor bitter. He stood on the promise of God. Is that great or what? And it’s all from the Bible. You can do every one of those seven. If you want a tender heart and a tough hide when enduring criticism, you must do them. So must I.

Taken from Charles R. Swindoll, “Cultivating a Tender Heart and a Tough Hide,” Insights (July 2003): 1-2. Copyright © 2003, Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

1. R. Kelso Carter, “Standing on the Promises”, in The Celebration Hymnal (Word Music/Integrity Music, 1997), no. 410.

A Shelter Day in the Ministry – Part 2

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

Taking It from the Top
Moody Monthly – January 1992    Dr. Wayne Hopkins

The ministry is work. Hard work! Any servant of God worth his salt, motivated by a sense of righteousness and eternity, painfully feels there is more to do than what he can accomplish. Hurting people in his ministry need him-because of marital problems, wayward children, and conflicts with relatives, neighbors, and folks at work and church.

Hence, time always seems in short supply for the urgent crises of counseling witnessing, preaching, Bible studies, and helping others. The staggering amount of abuse, adultery, bankruptcy, divorce, drunkenness, eating disorders, gambling, idolatry, and store housing drives the caring shepherd.

Not uncommonly the servant tastes the fatigue and desperate panic of an athlete in the Triathlon who discovers during the race additional miles and events are being added, pushing the finish line further away into the twilight.

The genius of a Shelter Day (S-Day)–where activity hatches are shut and bolted down, no matter how spiritual or alarming–is that it serves as a submerged day for rest and recharging. In addition to it being a study time, the S-Day is to be distinguished by stillness (Ps 46:10). It is not enough merely to stay home one day a week in seclusion; one cannot hopscotch around the house to the phone, computer, TV and refrigerator (Ex 14:10-18). Stillness requires staying fixed and focused mentally, and it excludes leapfrogging on ministry projects behind closed doors (Ps 37:7).

God’s “thoughts and ways” which are as high and different from mine as the heavens are above the earth (Isa 55:8,9), are not grasped by me in the midst of a cyclone, convulsions. or even a dull circus. The profound joy and peace–promised to me from another world (Isa 55:12)–as a result of entering God’s intimacy are not merely millennial blessings, tucked away for me for the future, in the meantime leaving me to grunt, gnash, and gnaw on my own (Isa 28:12,13). God orders me to abandon now my “evil thoughts and ways” (Isa 55:7-13) and ponder His thoughts and ways.

Before the S-Day can produce “strength and a rescue” for me, it must be furrowed with “rest and quietness” (Isa 30:15). A modern “can-do” American, especially the guilt-driven Kingdom worker, finds it virtually impossible to turn off the power drive and park for 24 hours.

Both a physical and mental idle is mandatory, if I am going to benefit reflectively from God’s presence with me (Ps 116:7; Zech 2:13). A throttled-down, unflapped composure by me is that steady state needed to refuel in mid-flight. True poise, which allows insight and refreshment from the sphere above, gushes to a calm, unruffled soul below, content to wait for Him no matter how long it takes (Hab 2:20; Zeph 1:7).

David’s other-world contemplations and psalms flushed earthward while he sat or lay motionless and hushed (Ps 4:4; 16:78; 42:1-43:5). Songs bubbled up and over, springing from deep wells within, only in a long lull which followed a storm. Job, likewise, made absolutely no progress in penetrating the mystery of his afflictions until he and his friends stopped their flap and fury allowing God to interrupt with facts (Job 40:3-5; 42:1-6).

Like rain and snow cycling from heaven to earth then back, according to Isaiah 55:10, 11, the Word of the Lord spreads throughout the land to accomplish that which He intends. The soil, nourished like my soul, then yields its “seeds for the sower and bread for the hungry.” Patiently and majestically nature waits–as anyone knows who has stood in the middle of a meadow or deep in the woods–for the moisture of the rain and snow. Comparable, the nurture of wisdom and grace, derived from perceiving God’s thoughts and ways, arrives fruitfully in season to those who wait (1 Sam 12:16). Heaven never makes the fields and valleys fertile because they “spin or toil” (Mt 6:19-34; cf. 4:4). They must wait.

For my soul to be restored, God leads me by the still waters (Ps 23:2). For me to drink, I must cease my bank-side romp and ruckus and lie in green pastures. For I process truth about God only in a balmy, soft, and soothing setting, not in a brouhaha, by a boombox, or amid baubles. In praise, singing and celebrations, with bands and voices, I communicate with God. In the still and quiet, God communicates with me…

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?

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