Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “December, 2014”

Happy New Year!

As we come to the end of another year and look ahead to the beginning of a new one, it’s a great time to stop and reflect.  Put aside that busyness and reflect upon your life past, present, and future.

Some questions to help with your reflection:

1.  What has God been speaking to you about during these past few months?  Are there general themes or topics that seem to be repeated?

2.  Is your life in alignment with the general purposes of God and does it reflect an eternal value system?

3.  Are you at peace?

4.  Are you contributing in your strengths and operating out of your passions?

5.  Does your lifestyle model something that is attractive for others to imitate?

One of my favorite passages on new beginnings is Isaiah 43:18-19  –

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

May this be the year of new beginnings – a year that brings Him glory!

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

One of the blessings of the years our family spent in Indonesia was that we lived as a Christian minority.  The blessing in this became evident at the time of major Christian holidays, like Christmas.  There were no cultural distractions to have to explain or avoid.  Rather, Christmas was what we made it.  We could introduce our own traditions and values without having the distractions from the society around us.

Today we live in America once again and are confronted with all of the Christmas traditions that go with the holiday season.  Perhaps like me, you’ve wondered where all of these traditions came from.  Here’s some background to help with giving some new (old?) meaning to these seasonal traditions.

December 25 – The Day of Jesus’ Birth

In ancient times birthdays were celebrated only by kings and royalty.  It was not customary to record the specific date of an individual’s birth.  Being unsure of the exact date of Jesus’ birth, many dates began to be observed as Christianity spread from country to country.

Bishop Hippolytus calculated the birth of Jesus to be December 25 in 235 AD.  Emperor Constantine ordered the celebration of Christmas in 320 AD.  Since 400 AD Christendom has accepted this date as the traditional date of Jesus’ birth.

Christmas was first celebrated in America in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia.  In 1836 Alabama became the first state to establish Christmas as a legal holiday.  Colorado recognized Christmas as a state holiday in 1861.

St. Nicholas or Santa Claus

Nicholas was born and raised in Turkey in 280 AD.  When Nicholas reached age 19 he entered the priesthood.  He became known as the ‘patron saint of children’ because of his habit of leaving unidentified gifts at the homes of needy families.  This mysterious donor is called “Father Christmas” in England.

Introduced as “Sinterklass”  to America by the Dutch as the patron saint of their colonies or as the English and French said, “Saneta Claas.”  In 1809 Washington Irving portrayed a jolly fellow who rode in a sleigh pulled by reindeer; a far cry from the original St. Nicholas.  The giving spirit of St. Nicholas should inspire us all.

Candy Canes

A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy to celebrate the birth of Jesus, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane.  He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus.

He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy.  He chose white to symbolize the purity and Virgin Birth of Jesus.  He made it in the “J” shape for the name of Jesus.  The shape is also that of a shepherd’s staff, to remind us that the Bible calls Jesus the Good Shepherd.  The red stripe is to remind us of the blood Christ shed for us when he died on a cross.

Christmas Carols

Until the Middle Ages there was no congregational singing in Christian churches.  Trained choirs sang chants and monotonous songs.  After the Christmas services, the church members would often gather in the streets to sing songs about the birth of Jesus, called ‘carola.’  Martin Luther introduced congregational singing to the churches.

“Silent Night” is the most popular Christmas carol.  Written on Christmas eve in Obendorf, Austria in 1818 by a priest as he walked in the snow house-to-house inviting his members to the service that evening.  Returning to his church, the priest asked the organist to write the melody to the lyrics he had composed on his walk.  Sung for the first time at the service that evening, it was sung to guitar as the church organ was broken!

Christmas Trees

This tradition was borrowed from the non-Christian people of northern Europe and given a new meaning.  These people would bring evergreens into their homes during the winter months to remind them of the hope of the coming spring.

Christians adapted this custom and added that the evergreen symbolizes the everlasting life offered through belief in Jesus as our Savior.  Trees were set up on Christmas and decorated with lights (candles) to symbolize that Jesus was born on a beautiful, starry night in Bethlehem.  Tradition says that Martin Luther was the first to add lights to the decorated tree.

Creche or Manger Scene

Until the 13th century, those that celebrated Christmas generally overlooked the lowly conditions of Jesus’ birth.  In 1219, St. Francis of Assisi visited Bethlehem where he was struck by the simplicity of Christ’s birthplace.  He was dismayed by the contrast of Jesus’ humble beginnings and the lavish church celebrations of his birth.

St. Francis created a rustic stable scene for midnight mass on Christmas Eve 1223.  He used live animals and people portrayed Mary and Joseph, shepherds and the angels.


Long before Christmas trees were a part of the common Christmas traditions, stockings were hung in anticipation of the arrival of St. Nicholas.  English immigrants brought this custom with them to America.

The original Christmas stockings that were hung were those worn for everyday apparel.  They were hung with the hopes of being filled with treats from the visit of St. Nick.

What traditions are a part of your Christmas celebrations?  What values are you communicating as you celebrate?  Perhaps you can lead your family or your friends in remembering the true reason for the season as you reflect upon some of these established traditions.     MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The New Testament ‘Overseer’ Leader

In First Timothy Paul lays out a very clear list of qualities for Timothy to use in appointing overseers for local leadership.  This list is both descriptive and prescriptive, depending upon our application of it, as we think about the qualifications for Kingdom leadership.

1 Timothy 3:1-7
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

The Role of Overseer

Overseer; Bishop – ‘episkope’  –  one who inspects, oversees with the aim to help

• note that one can set their heart on becoming a spiritual leader; godly ambition vs selfish ambition

• “task” = “office” – emphasis on the work of an overseer, not upon the position

• Acts 20:28 – Holy Spirit raises up overseers for His Church

• Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5 – elders were appointed

• 1 Peter 5:1-5 – elders functioned as shepherds

• 1 Timothy 5:17 – elders are rulers; functioned as preachers and teachers

Qualities of New Testament Overseers

1) Above reproach
– blameless
– not just clean, but clean enough that they won’t even be accused

2) Husband of one wife
– probably refers to not having more than one wife at a time; that is, not polygamous
– note that this assumes the overseers are men

3) Temperate
– not controlled or influenced by intoxicants
– this could relate to drug use of any kind (i.e. alcohol, other addictive drugs)

4) Self-controlled
– sober-minded, sensible, prudent
– not controlled or influenced by anything other than a sound mind  (2 Timothy 1:7)

5) Respectable
– having good behavior, modest, admired by others

6) Hospitable
– able to make guests feel comfortable and at home
– Isaiah 60:11 – a promise for hospitality

7) Able to teach
– a skilled teacher of the Word;ability to pass on truth in a simple, easy to understand manner (2 Timothy 2:15, 24)

8) Not given to drunkenness
– not addicted to wine or intoxicating drinks to the point of loss of self control

9) Not violent
– not pugnacious
– not a fighter – probably related to physical violence  (see #11)

10) Gentle
– patient with those who oppose
– kind in relation to dealings with others, able to build harmony (2 Timothy 2:25)

11) Not quarrelsome
– not divisive or contentious
– builder of harmony rather than divisions or factions (notice the relationship to # 9)

12) Not a lover of money
– not covetous or pursuing a life built around temporal values
– free from the love of money; content with their economic station in life (Hebrews 13:5)

13) Manages his own family well
– proactively leads with diligence; cares for and watches over
– “family” = wife, children and household

14) His children obey him with proper respect
– children are under control; not rebellious
– children are obedient with respect for the authority of their parent

15) Not a recent convert
– not a novice or someone who is immature in their faith and therefore easily deceived
– someone with enough maturity so that they are not pursuing the position or power (1 Timothy 5:22)

16) Has a good reputation with outsiders
– a good reputation with those not yet in the faith; well thought of by others
– a good witness by word and deed

How the NFL Develops Leaders – A Case Study

The following is from a Sports Illustrated article written by Jim Trotter in October 6, 2009.

“I’m forever indebted to the Patriots for what they did for me and for what they’ve allowed my family to accomplish in terms of my professional career.” [Josh McDaniels]
It is a career that was aided greatly by New England coach Bill Belichick, who gave McDaniels his first NFL job in 2001. While climbing from personnel assistant to coaching assistant to quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, McDaniels, now 33, absorbed many of the Belichick’s teachings and adopted many of his football principles. You can see it in how the Broncos run practice, evaluate personnel, write scouting reports, and attack opponents on offense and defense with situational football. They’re all so … so … New England-like.

Still, perhaps the most important lessons McDaniels learned came in February 2008, two weeks after the Patriots’ quest for an undefeated season ended with a 17-14 loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLIII. When the coaches returned from a two-week break, Belichick called McDaniels into his office and handed him a five-page, typed report on what it takes to be an effective coach and have a winning organization.

“I had been talking to Bill for a few years about being a head coach, and after I didn’t do any interviews during the bye week in the ’07 playoffs he said, ‘I will help you in any way I can to get you ready for all the other things that go into the job,'” McDaniels said. “Just being around him every day was going to help me from a football standpoint because I could see what he did and how he did it. But he was saying he would help me with some of the things that you won’t really get a chance to witness or understand or become knowledgeable about until you’re in that position.

“I remember when we first came back after our break, that very first day, that very first morning, he brought me into his office and he gave me five pages, typed, of all the topics and things that he felt like I needed to be educated about to become an effective head coach. I’m thinking to myself, here he’s got 10 or 12 days where he can do whatever in the hell he wants to do — we’ve just come off a season where we were 16-0 and lost in the Super Bowl — and the very first day back he gives me this? That was kind of like my bible.”

During the 2008 season, the men met for an hour here, 30 minutes there, until they had addressed every point in the report. From there McDaniels developed 60 to 65 questions of his own that he carried into job interviews with Cleveland and Denver earlier this year.

“When you say where did the questions come from, it was Bill’s background,” McDaniels said. “He had been a head coach in Cleveland and New England, he was a coordinator in a number of different places, and he understands the salary cap, free agency, the draft, contracts, all that stuff. He gave me as much of that information as I could possibly ask for — and then he gave me a whole bunch of information that I never would have asked for. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.”

McDaniels had his opportunity to lead the Denver Broncos after this article was written.  He struggled to apply what he had learned and is now once again back with Belichick as the offensive coordinator.  It will be interesting to follow what happens next.

Developing More Leaders – REPRODUCE

We continue to reflect upon a good way to organize our understanding of the complex subject of leadership.  Using the simple outline of Know – Be – Do – Reproduce we can categorize the important functions of this vast subject called leadership.  Today we will address the category of “Reproduce – Developing More Leaders.”

An essential part of your leadership is to multiply more leaders.  Yes, we must accomplish mission and task, but don’t overlook the very important task of leaving behind more leaders.  Be intentional about developing those leaders on your team to ensure the are reaching their potential for contribution.

Some leaders are so personally insecure that they avoid developing those on their team.  They see their team member’s development as a threat to their leadership, thinking, “If they reach their potential, they could take my role and then what would I do?”

The reality is that all leadership is temporary.  We lead for a while and then transition our leadership to another.  We can make this transition healthy and positive by intentionally planning our transition.  Or we can ignore it and wait until a crisis occurs and then leave the work ill-prepared for the next leader.

Here’s some practical reminders about developing the leaders on your team.

  1. You don’t personally have to do the development of your team members, just lead your team in their development
  2. Be intentional about your team’s development as a whole and as individual members
  3. Model intentional, individual leader development for your team; set the pace
  4. Make leader development fun and interesting, not a duty!
  5. Make sure that the Scriptures are central in your team’s leader development
  6. Reading a book or and article on leadership together as a team and then discussing how it might be applied in your context is an easy way to lead your team in development
  7. Bring in outside resources (people and tools) to help your team grow and develop
  8. Development is a part of your regular team meetings, but can become a focus for an extended team retreat
  9. Have your team members set 6-month personal development goals related to their development as a leader and then hold them accountable for them
  10. Remember to keep this question before your team – “Development for what?”  Their personal leader development and the development of your team is to help you all accomplish your God-given mission or task.

Are you being intentional about your personal leader development?  Are you leading your team in development?


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