Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “June, 2015”

Living with and Eternal Value System

What will it take to find a generation of God’s people who will live for the summit of God’s best? It will begin with individual believers who base their lives on eternal rather than temporal values. It will take believers who are so convinced about the reality of life in heaven that this world’s pleasures will not be able to grip their lives. It will begin with an eternal value system in the believer’s life.

Both the seen and unseen world have values. Individuals adopt these values and life’s choices are based upon them. This world places value on such things as youth and physical beauty, intelligence and education, the accumulation of money and physical goods, personal power and position, and self-gratification.

The world to come says that this world and its values will soon pass away. In the world to come we will all be given new bodies that don’t age or deteriorate (1 Cor. 15:35-58), we will know even as we are known (1 Cor. 13:9-12), there will be rewards for faithful service (1 Cor. 3:5-15), and we will reign with Christ forever (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 22:1-5).

Those believers with an eternal value system will have a pilgrim’s mentality. They will view this life as temporary, a brief interlude on the way to eternity forever with Jesus. They are only passing through this world on the way to a better life. The time given for this temporal life will be used for God’s glory, always with the eternal end in view. Decisions in this life will reflect the reality of the eternal life we await.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Jesus reminds us that where our treasure is, there our heart will be (Matthew 6:21).  Where’s your treasure?  Where’s your heart?

Reaching the Nations

Dawson Trotman said, “World vision is getting on your heart what has always been on God’s heart.”

Christ’s Great Commission commands us to make disciples of all the nations. By ‘nations’ we do not mean geo-political units on a map, but rather peoples. We see the world as the Lord does – peoples with common cultures, languages, and affinities. It is within these peoples that the gospel moves and spreads.

There are 78 unreached people groups within our own U.S. borders, requiring no visa to reach them and few government restrictions (see Joshua Project statistics for current U.S. and world opportunities).

Immigrants and refugees are pouring into our country at unheard of rates. And we know from history that when people are in transitions they are more open to the gospel.

International students are also coming to study on our campuses at unprecedented rates. They too are in times of change and thus are very receptive to new ideas and relationships. And when they return to their home of origin they become leaders and influencers for a lifetime. These too require no plane ride or language school experience to engage. But they do require a huge heart, sustained commitment, and great perseverance to see the gospel take root and bear fruit!

The world today still is 40% unreached (see Joshua Project data). There remains 6,600 unreached people groups totaling nearly 3 billion people. These peoples will be reached if someone leaves their home and intentionally crosses cultures to plant the gospel among them. The remaining groups are historically the most resistant to the gospel – those with Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist background. It will require long-term effort and much sacrifice for the gospel to go to these ‘nations.’

Our Lord said, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-20). Paul reminds us, “And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14). Are you praying for the nations to come to know Him?  Are you listening to how He would have of you to become the answer to your own prayer?

The Leadership Wake

Henry Cloud has described what he calls the ‘leadership wake’ that all leaders leave behind them as they exercise their leadership. Just as a boat moving through the water leaves a wake (trace) behind it of two waves, so too leaders leave behind them the impact of their influence.

On one side of the leadership wake we have the ‘wave’ of mission or task. It is the reason we have a need for leaders – a mission or a task needs to be done. A leader is identified to help set a direction forward, align resources, cast vision, and manage the work of people in order to accomplish the mission.

A good leader when looking behind them at one side of their personal leadership wake would hope to see mission after mission, task after task, accomplished, completed, and finished for the glory of God. It is often the reputation of being a leader who gets things done that draws the attention of other leaders and encourages them to give you more responsibilities. The reward for good leadership is more responsibility!

But there is a second wave on the other side of the ‘leadership boat’ that is equally important for Kingdom leaders. That side of the wake is people. We want to see people thriving under our leadership influence, not surviving their time with us. Too often we see mission accomplished on one side and forget to look at the other side of the wake. Do we see people thriving or struggling? Are we creating a healthy and attractive environment where people are operating in their strengths and growing in their contributions?

The good Kingdom leader is looking at both sides of their personal leadership wake. They are taking note of whether the job given is accomplished and accomplished well. They are also noting whether people are thriving under their leadership. 360 reviews can be very revealing when direct reports are given opportunity to evaluate their leaders.

Much of Kingdom leadership is leading volunteers. And because this is mostly a volunteer army they have a vote on whether or not to serve under our leadership. Good leaders have volunteers who continue to ‘re up’ with them to serve again and again. Volunteers can ‘vote with their feet’ and leave if we are not leaving behind us a leadership wake that is healthy and attractive.

Have you looked behind you recently? Are you looking at both sides of the boat?

If Laborers are Few, then Leaders are Fewer

Jesus states a simple fact in Mat. 9:35 – the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers (workers) are few. This reality was true when Jesus stated it, it is still true today, and it will be true when He returns. Why would there be ‘few’ laborers? Why are laborer-leaders in short supply?

First, the laborers are few because it is costly, hard work to labor for Christ. Most of us, if we are honest, have the ‘gift’ of being served, instead of serving others. It is this tendency that encourages many to let the few serve the many. It takes a lot out of us as we serve, lead, and help others. This effort is draining and personally depleting. Work is still called ‘work,’ even in the Kingdom.

Secondly, the laborer-leaders are few because it is a volunteer workforce. Just as we can opt in or out of salvation, we are also given the opportunity to opt in or out of spiritual serving. Yes, making disciples of all the nations is a command, but we have the choice to make of whether we will obey or not. We are incentivized with the promise of rewards for faithful service (1 Cor.3) and reminded of the potential loss of reward, but it is not conscription in the Lord’s service.

Thirdly, there must be a transformation with us in order to labor and lead in the harvest. We must change from being self-focused to being others focused. This is a spiritual work that the Holy Spirit does within us and the heart and mind of Christ are formed within all those who believe and follow Him. We can ask for a new heart (Ez. 22:30) that He promises and He will give it. But the transformation is truly a miracle of His grace as we grow out of our own ego centric world views to become others centered.

The amazing thing about Mat 9:35-38 is that Jesus is not complaining about the lack of a few laborers. He is simply stating the facts. God’s purposes will be accomplished, even though there are only a few laborers entering into the harvest. The harvest will be reaped. God’s plans will be completed, with us or without us.

It’s a volunteer outfit. Do I see that hand up?

Leaders and Crisis

Life and leadership bring crisis moments whether we are expecting them or not. They just happen! This reality should prepare us to address them when they show up. But we are often taken by surprise when a crisis interrupts our plans. Crises are not something to be dreaded, but rather embraced.
The following are several thoughts on how to face up to your next leadership crisis:
1. Adjust your attitude! This current crisis is an opportunity for your personal growth as a leader as you address this latest ‘disaster.’ Rather than fearing this crisis, embrace it and look for the Lord to help you not only conquer the problem, but also turn this into a hidden blessing.

2. Move towards it now! It will not solve itself! If ignored, it will probably grow worse, bigger, more ominous, or ripple out to influence more people. Just as David ran towards Goliath (see 1 Sam. 17:48), move towards this threat and engage!

3. Do not delegate your problems to someone else on your team. Others can ‘smell’ that kind of lack of courage or unwillingness to deal with something that is messy.

4. While not delegating the crisis to another, loop in some others for help. You continue to run point on the crisis, but by bring in others for help they too will grow from the experience and their contributions will often help bring about a better solution than if you handled it all yourself.

5. Look for the best solution to the problem, not just the quickest or easiest. One practical discipline that I have tried to develop in this area of problem solving is to force myself to come up with several possible solutions, not just one. But doing this I am often pushing myself to think more deeply or broadly to different, more creative ways to solve the issue. The final action is often some combination of several possible solution scenarios.

6. Expect God to help you. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you (Mat. 28:20). Look to Him in the midst of seeking a way forward. The prayer of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chron. 20:12 is instructive, “Lord… we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

7. When the crisis abates, and it will, be sure to give thanks for deliverance from the current mess. An ungrateful spirit is disappointing to others serving with you and revealing about our hubris as if we were the ones who really solved the issue.
Crises come and crises go. Your either in the midst of one right now or one is coming soon. Get ready! One person’s crisis is another person’s ‘opportunity.’

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