Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “April, 2015”

Developing a Leader’s Faith

1 Samuel 17:1-50

Faith:  acting in accordance with what God has promised to do or in accordance with His character

Development of Faith

1 Samuel 17:36-37
Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

Lesson:  Yesterday’s tests prepare us for today’s trials (cf. Jeremiah 12:5)

Exercising Faith

1 Samuel 17:38-40
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.  “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

Lesson:  God has provided all we need to accomplish His work through us (cf. Zechariah 4:6)

1 Samuel 17:45-47
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied….47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Lesson:  It is God, not our faith, resources, or abilities, who brings success to our efforts  (cf. Luke 17:5-6; 2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

As Kingdom leaders we are reliant upon unseen resources that we tap into by faith.  This is a learned habit developed over a lifetime.  Where’s your confidence resting?  Is it in what is seen and known or are you trusting the unseen Lord to lead, guide, and resource you?

Leading from a Focused Life

Dr. RJ (Bobby) Clinton in his masterful work titled, “Strategic Concepts that Clarify a Focused Life,” states the following principles that have proven to be a guiding light for me over the years.

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to
do it, and to teach in Israel statues and judgments.       Ezra 7:10

“Clearly some Bible characters led focused lives.  There was purpose in what they did. Disciplined minds followed through on decisions that continually led to that purpose.  What can we learn about lives that are extremely focused?  Do they just happen?

“Leaders, must make decisions about life and ministry which flow from their understanding of who God has made them to be and for what God is shaping them.  These decisions will lead them to effective purposeful lives, which in retrospect will be seen to have been focused lives.  But it is not a self-seeking individualistic choice of life, but a seeking of what a SOVEREIGN GOD is doing—His purposes.  All of the focused life thinking must be done in light of a strong understanding of the Sovereignty of God.

“What is a focused life?  A focused life is:

• a life dedicated to exclusively carrying out God’s effective purposes through it,
• by identifying the focal issues, that is, the life purpose, effective methodology, major role, or ultimate contribution which allows
• an increasing prioritization of life’s activities around the focal issues, and
• results in a satisfying life of being and doing.

Dedicated usually indicates that there was some sort of second decision beyond just being a Christian.  That decision places all that the leader is or has at God’s disposal to be used by and for God.  From that moment on, the leader is on a pilgrimage to discover God’s special purposes, that is, a personal destiny with God.

Life purpose, effective methodology, major role, or ultimate contribution are called the focal issues.  That is, they are the major ways that God will reveal that for which we are designed.  In a nutshell, life purpose is the driving force behind what we do.  Major role is the occupational position from which we accomplish that life purpose.  Effective methodologies are means that are effective for us to deliver our ministry that flows from that life purpose.  And ultimate contributions are the lasting results of that ministry

“It is the discovery of these focal issues, that is, their movement from implicit to explicit, which provides the possibility of prioritization or in other words, proactive decision-making. The earlier we can discover these issues, the earlier we can proactively act upon them. The leader then makes strategic decisions, which take into account the discoveries. In short, they manifest aspects of a focused life.

“Note the final bold-faced words in the focused life definition, a satisfying life of being and doing.  Leaders who discover life purpose and any other focal issue, which synergizes with it, will see things happen in their lives.  They will become people of character.  They will accomplish.  When all is said and done and life is drawing to a close, they can look back and say, “Folks, you are looking at a fulfilled person.  I am happy with the end product of God’s shaping—who I am, what I have become.  I am happy at what God has done through me—what I have done.  Life was worth living.  It has been a fulfilling pilgrimage.  Praise God!” “

How’s your focus?

What’s So Bad About Hierarchy?

Much of the ‘prevailing wind’ today in organizational leadership is blowing towards the ‘flat organization’ – that is, the fewer the leadership levels we have in an organizational structure, the better that organization will be able to accomplish the mission or task.  ‘Bureaucracy’ is a bad word which implies sluggishness, bloated and wasteful budgets, unmotivated people, and a lack of creativity or willingness to adapt and change.

While the above characteristics of hierarchy, as presently practiced, are true in many organizations, it does not have to be so.  Hierarchy in and of itself is morally neutral – it’s not good, bad, or purple.  A hierarchical structure is no better or worse than a flat organizational structure that has fewer levels of leadership.  Good leaders within a hierarchical structure can unleash creativity, innovation, spawn organic movement, empower entrepreneurs, and stimulate growth.  The structure is not the issue, but rather those within the structure who are setting direction and making decisions that make it good or bad.

There are two important reasons for hierarchy:  health and complexity.  By ‘health’ we mean the health of the individuals within the organization.  We want those we are leading to thrive under our leadership, not just survive.  Leadership is not just about accomplishing mission together, it is also about caring well for those we lead.  Having a large span of leadership with too many direct reports will not allow us the capacity to truly ‘know well the condition of our flocks’ (see Proverbs 27:23).

With increasing complexity of mission comes the need for more leadership capacity.  A large task, with multiple facets, demands the contribution of many people.  These people need a common purpose, clear vision, doable jobs, and accountability for their contributions.  This oversight is good stewardship and need not be restrictive.  It’s how this leadership is done that is key!

We have an example from King David in 1 Chronicles 27 as we see how he organized his kingdom.  40+ leaders are mentioned with their respective responsibilities – army commanders, family heads, property managers, an executive team, and spiritual advisers all contributed to David’s leadership capacity.   The size and complexity of the kingdom required good leaders with many varied, intersecting responsibilities.

So, the next time we are tempted to criticize hierarchy, let’s pause a moment and think.  Is it the structure or is it the leaders within that structure that makes it a challenge?  Mankind keeps looking for better structures, but God keeps looking for better leaders!  May it begin with us!

Help! I’m Doing Too Much!

Busyness, fast pace, urgency, and crowded schedules are the hallmarks of the life of a leader.  If you don’t want to be busy, then don’t attempt to lead!  But, there is no glory in flaming out young because of foolishness and unwise choices about lifestyle and priorities.  Decades of contribution lost because of our bad choices do not honor God.

As a young missionary in Indonesia I had the great privilege of escorting the missionary statesman, J.O. Sanders from one end of Java to the other.  That day together talking together marked me for life.  After listening to me for some time share my hopes, dreams, aspirations, and those things that I was not yet doing or desired to do he stopped me.  “Tom,” he said, “I’d like to say something to you.”  Now this was J.O. Sanders!  And he had something he wanted to say to me!  I was all ears.

“Tom, you need to come to grips with the possible!”

Some years later I was beginning a different leadership role back in the U.S.  I asked one of our leaders if he had any advice for me as I launched into this new responsibility.  Immediately he said this, “Tom, a mark of maturity is being able to live with unfinished tasks.”

While both leaders used different words, their message to me was the same.  There will always be more things to do than we have time or energy to do them.  The ‘to-do list’ only grows longer for a leader, seemingly never shorter!  The urgent demands for our attention scream for us to stop immediately and address them, only to be followed by more demands.  What to do?

“Come to grips with the possible!”  Put in a good days work, then lay your head down on the pillow and go to sleep.  Let God be God for you and your responsibilities while you rest.  Those demands (and more) will be waiting for you tomorrow.  Work hard and then lay it down!  Taking your cares to bed at night makes for very fitful and unrefreshing sleep!

The words of Jesus are such a penetrating reminder to all of us who are doing too much:

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?          Matthew 6:27

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.          Matthew 6:34

In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.          Psalm 127:2

How’s your sleep patterns?  Are you awakening each morning rested or weary from a night of  tossing and turning? Are you able to turn off your mind as it runs to your pressing, urgent issues of life and leadership?  Lay them down at His feet…He is willing and more than able to deal with them, while you get some much-needed rest!


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