Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the category “#1 KNOW- How a Leader Thinks”

Fixing Your Thoughts and Gaze

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.      Hebrews 3:1  (NIV)

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.      Hebrews 12:2   (NIV)

Someone has said, “A fog in the pulpit is a mist in the pew.”  Another common saying is, “If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.”  Clarity of purpose and destination are essential for good leadership.

The daily flurry of activity and leadership demands can take what at one time was crystal clear and make it seem distant or out of focus.  I call this the “leadership whiteout.”  If you have ever driven in a blinding snow storm where the blowing snow does not allow you to see the road in front you will know what I mean.

A leader’s job is to bring clarity.  But if the leader is not certain of their destination or purpose themselves, then it will certainly only be less clear for those seeking to follow their lead.

The author of Hebrews exhorts his readers to fixate on Jesus and Him alone in the midst of the daily hum.  We are to fix our thoughts on Him and not become distracted by those many voices clamoring for our attention.  In our leadership we seek to hear His voice and obey His voice, wanting to please only Him.

We are to fix our eyes on Him – He is the true north on our personal compass.  He keeps us oriented to eternal purposes rather than be consumed by the temporal tyranny of the urgent.

And so, where are your thoughts today?  Where are your eyes focused today?  Take a moment right now to reorient and refocus.

 

How to Develop Yourself at a Meeting

I was recently asked for some thoughts on how to really benefit from participating in a gathering of leaders.  Below are some practical suggestions on maximizing your growth and development from such a meeting.

  1. It’s easy just to let the meeting just happen and you take it as it comes – more reactive than pro-active.  While this may be of some benefit, it will not maximize your experience.  A little planning and forethought can be a great benefit.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take initiative with anyone while there or try to book an appointment beforehand.  You will usually find them very responsive if at all possible.  You will need to have a clear reason for wanting to spend time with them.  Express what you hope to get out of the time together.
  3. It can be easy to feel like a grasshopper in the land of giants, but that is not reality.  While a gathering of leaders will have those attending with different leadership roles, but there is no value or importance implied by those various roles.
  4. So, think ahead and do some pro-active planning.  Who would you want to spend time with?  Who would you want to learn from?  Are their strategic linkages that you want to work develop or initiate?
  5. Though you have a plan, expect that the Lord will guide you into some ‘divine appointments’ that He arranges for you.  Be anticipating that and listening to the Spirit as He directs you in your conversations.  Be slow to speak and quick to listen.
  6. Go as a learner.  Go asking questions.  It might be helpful to have several questions related to leadership that you ask repeatedly to several participants and then compare their answers.  The questions can be specific (i.e. What one lesson have you learned that has helped you most to be a strategic leader?) or more general (i.e. What advice would you give someone like me who is just beginning to lead geographically dispersed staff teams?)
  7. Don’t make any long-term commitments while there.  You may be invited to visit, send staff teams, partner, commit resources , etc. to many wonderful opportunities.  Thank them for the invitation, but tell them you will want to pray and think about this and discuss it with your leadership before making any long-term decisions.  When you return, and decompress, you will be able to make much better and wiser decisions.
  8. Debrief with someone afterwards on what you learned.

Gatherings of leaders can be very stimulating and helpful for your growth and development.  But a little forethought can truly make them life-altering.  Plan ahead!

The 24 Hours of Life

The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.                                                       Moses – Psalm 90:10,12

Some time ago I was meditating on these verses and thinking about the length of life.  It is but a mist that appears for a short time and then vanishes (see James 4:14).  To help me gain some perspective I created the chart below and review it regularly.  It helps remind me of my mortality and of the brevity of life.  It is a comparison of a seventy-year life span to a 24 hour day.

At 66 years of age (I was born in 1951) you can see that the vast majority of my life is now in the rear-view mirror.  This does not mean that life is over, for no one knows their span of years.  But whether it be seventy years, eighty years or more, we are to ‘number our days’ and make the most of them for His glory.

Reflect on these things and make the most of every opportunity.  For this life will soon be past and only what is done for Christ will last.

YEAR  AGE   TIME             YEAR   AGE   TIME

1952       1       00.20               1987      36      12.20
1953       2       00.41               1988      37      12.41
1954       3       01.02               1989      38      13.02
1955       4       01.23                1990      39      13.23
1956       5       01.43                1991      40      13.43
1957       6       02.03               1992      41      14.03
1958       7       02.24               1993      42      14.24
1959       8       02.45               1994      43      14.45
1960       9       03.05              1995      44      15.05
1961      10      03.25               1996      45      15.25

1962      11      03.46               1997      46      15.46
1963      12      04.06              1998      47      16.06
1964      13      04.27               1999      48      16.27
1965      14      04.48              2000      49      16.48
1966      15      05.09               2001      50      17.09
1967      16      05.29               2002      51      17.29
1968      17      05.50               2003      52      17.50
1969      18      06.10               2004      53      18.10
1970      19      06.31               2005      54      18.31
1971      20      06.51               2006      55      18.51

1972      21      07.12               2007      56      19.12
1973      22      07.32              2008      57      19.32
1974      23      07.53              2009      58      19.53
1975      24      08.14              2010      59      20.14
1976      25      08.35              2011      60      20.35
1977      26      08.55               2012      61      20.55
1978      27      09.15                2013      62      21.15
1979      28      09.36               2014      63      21.36
1980      29      09.57               2015      64      21.57
1981      30      10.17                2016      65      22.17

1982      31      10.38               2017      66      22.38
1983      32      10.58               2018      67      22.58
1984      33      11.19                2019      68      23.19
1985      34      11.39               2020      69      23.39
1986      35      12.00               2021      70      24.00

Helping Others Understand

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” …  Do you still not understand?  Don’t you remember … But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.    Matthew 16:5-12   NIV 1984

The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”  …  Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.    Matthew 17:10-13  NIV 1984

Jesus had multiple times where the Twelve were slow to grasp the meaning of His teaching or their experiences with Him.  He demonstrates amazing patience as they struggle to really understand the meaning of all that was happening.  Sometimes we can see what appears to be a chiding of them or a mild exhortation (“How will you understand any parable?”), but he does wait for them to come to a fuller grasp of the subject.  He does not ‘spoon feed’ them; they have to exercise their own thought process.

In the first example in Matthew 16 the statement from Jesus was about avoiding the yeast of the Pharisees.  Having just come from two miracles of feeding thousands, the context seemed to dictate the subject of literal bread.  This was compounded by the fact that they did have any bread to eat, having forgotten it before they got on board.  So they concluded, perhaps He meant, “When we get off, don’t go purchasing any yeast from certain types of religious bread dealers?”

Note that when Jesus queried them about both miracles they accurately repeated the facts of their experience.  They knew how many were fed and how much was left over.  Though they knew the facts they did not understand the meaning.  After some further reflection, they understood the true meaning was to avoid the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The second instance begins with a question from the disciples about a prophecy regarding the coming of ‘Elijah’ before the coming of the Messiah.  They were growing in their understanding the Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, but then who was this ‘Elijah’ that was to come before Him?  With a little explanation, they came to understand that it was John the Baptist.  Note that Jesus did not tell them this plainly who it was, they had to deduce it from his explanation.

Sometimes those we lead require a little more help from us to ensure that they truly grasp what they are hearing or experiencing.  Don’t assume that just because they know the details that they truly understand the meaning.

Are you discerning or assuming that those around you understand?

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

                                                                    Luke 24:45  NIV 1984

Curse God and Die!

Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.  His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity?  Curse God and die!”  He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman.  Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”  In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.      Job 2:8-10

Job and his wife had suffered the tragic death of their children, the destruction of their home and wealth, and now Job was afflicted with oozing sores over his entire body.  Oh, the heartache!

It seems like it all was too much for his wife.  Her anger laden invective to him was simply, “Curse God and die!”  How sad!  How depressing!  How real!

As he sat on a pile of broken pottery shards, Job scraped at his sores and reflected upon his lot in life.  Certainly it was not a journey that he would have chosen.  Certainly he would have desired that it never had happened in the first place.

But tragedy had befallen him and his house.  And now he must reason.  The inner man cries out for an answer to, “Why?”  But Job was not a typical man.  His simple statement of faith and trust was this, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

It’s easy to thank God when life goes well.  We express grateful hearts for his mercy and goodness to us.  But, what about when things are not so good?  Can we thank Him when life does not feel good or seems anything but good?  Job did.  And we can follow his example as well.

Last year we suffered with our young granddaughter as she was diagnosed with kidney cancer and then endured 8 months of chemotherapy.  There were some dark days on that part of our journey.  But God in His mercy restored her.  This April we suffered the sudden death of our first-born, Michael at the age of 40.  There continues to be a sense of great loss and missing him.

But today we say by faith – we trust Him who is the Blessed Controller.  Nothing that touches us is outside of His good and perfect will for us.  By faith we say we trust Him and all that He has done.  We do not trust our own feelings, logic, or demand that He explain Himself.  For His ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts.  (see Isaiah 55:8-9).

The Lord is our strength, our shield, and our defender.  He comforts the grieving and gives hope to the discouraged.  We trust Him!

Have the lines fallen to you in pleasant places?  Rejoice!

Have the lines fallen in difficult places?  Trust!

Striving for Generations of Laborers

… the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.                        Colossians 1:26-29

Paul worked with everything he had to help others come to know Christ and grow to maturity in Him.  This type of spiritual laboring was incredibly consuming and exhausting.

A mark of physical maturity is the ability to reproduce.  And so it is for spiritual maturity.  As we grow up in Christ we mature to the point of being able to reproduce more followers of Him.  It is a natural result of growth both physically and spiritually.

But many followers of Christ never reproduce their faith.  They are stunted or never reach spiritual maturity.  Having obtained the ‘fire insurance policy,’ they rest in the assurance of its personal protection without sharing their faith with others.

Paul exhorted Timothy to pass along what he had obtained to others to the second and third spiritual generation.  “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”  (2 Timothy 2:1-2)

Spiritual generations of those who are mature in Christ to the point of spiritual reproduction – that is the legacy of our spiritual lives.  Just as we leave a physical legacy, so too we must aim for a spiritual legacy.  We seek to leave behind men and women who walk with God and who reproduce their faith into the next and following generations.

What’s the legacy that you are leaving?

Dependence or Independence?

“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”      Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

In Congress  July 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…

Tomorrow is the celebration of Independence Day in America – when America’s Founding Fathers declared the 13 colonies’ independence from Great Britain.  For Americans this day reminds us of our country’s heritage and the fact that many risked and sacrificed much for the freedom that we now enjoy.

But for those who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ there is no personal independence day.  Rather we celebrate our total, moment-by-moment  dependence upon Him.  For God does not want independent children.  He wants dependent ones.

Independence is a mark of standing upon your own two feet – saying that you are capable of governing your own life without the guidance or help of others.  This type of attitude is found in the world, but not in the Kingdom.  For citizens of the Kingdom of God know that we are Created beings who draw our very breath because our Creator wills it.  We are constantly leaning into Him who made us for strength, help, protection, guidance, and provision to live each day.

Therefore, we boast in our weakness, for then the power of Christ is evident in our lives (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).  This attitude is counter-intuitive to the world’s values.  The reality of our dependence on Him causes us to celebrate for He is faithful and will never leave us.

So, how is your attitude towards Him who made you?

Wisdom or a Wisecrack?

How can you discern if you just heard or experienced something that was wise or was it just a wisecrack that had little value?  The cacophony of voices around us today make this discernment essential for Kingdom leaders.  But was it something that was clever or truly founded in God’s wisdom?  Many things sound right, but upon reflection or execution we discover that they were poorly conceived.  How do we sort truth from error?

In James 3:17 we find a list of characteristics of God’s wisdom.  These qualities can be used by us to help determine whether something is truly from the Lord or just an interesting idea.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 

These seven characteristics of God’s wisdom can serve as a filter or a measuring rod with which we can evaluate whether some decision or solution is truly from the Lord.  If it runs counter to these qualities, then we can assume that it is of the world and therefore needs to be either modified or rejected outright.

I’d suggest keeping this list close as all times.  Memorize it so that the Lord can bring it to mind when you are in the heat of decision-making or problem solving.  He will guide you through it.  “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

Wisdom or wisecrack?  You frequently need discernment from the Lord to know the difference.  Lead from the wisdom that comes down from heaven!

 

Living Peaceful and Quiet Lives

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.       1 Thes. 4:11-12   NIV 1984

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.         1 Tim. 2:1-4  NIV 1984

Paul urges us to aim to live peaceful, quiet lives that shine as beacons of godliness and holiness to an unbelieving world around us.  For this to happen, we must be prayerfully interceding for kings (political leaders) and those in authority that the Lord might grant us favor in their eyes.  For, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases (Proverbs 21:1).

It is interesting to note that in Thessalonica and Ephesus Paul had caused riots and civil upheaval.  It was for the sake of the gospel that he was in these cities and we also note that in both cases it was not Paul who instigated the disturbances.  It was the enemies of the gospel who stirred up the crowds, drawing the responses from the civil leaders.  See Acts 17:1-9 and Acts 19:23ff.

Paul did not want this type of upheaval to be perceived as ‘normal’ for those following Christ in the respective cities.  Rather, the goal, as he reminded them, was to live peaceful and quiet lives; living such counter-cultural lives that they would win the respect of those who did not yet know Christ.

Our turbulent times call for us to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).   And in the midst of this turmoil, we are to be praying for our political and civil authorities – asking that the Lord would cause them to show us kindness and favor.  The result will be the advancement of the Kingdom and the gospel in the lives of many.

Are you praying for those in authority over you?

Life, Death, and Hope

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him… Therefore, encourage one another with these words.         1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18

Our son, Michael, died suddenly last month at the age of 40 from a heart attack.  He leaves behind his wife, Joy, and two boys:  Corban (15) and Byron (13).   We all deeply miss him and the heartache of his death will be a long-term healing process.

But we do not grieve his loss like others who have similar losses, for we have hope.  This hope is found in the gospel of life – the Good News that Michael loved Jesus as his personal Savior.  He testified as such (see 16 May blog) and therefore we have hope.  This hope is in our bodily resurrection from the dead.

Michael and all who have trusted Christ will be raised back to life when Christ returns.  We will be given a new body – an immortal one that does not age or decay.  We will live forever with Christ in His presence in heaven.

Therefore, we do not grieve like others who do not have this hope of seeing loved ones once again in heaven.  This hope helps us cope with the huge heartache and sadness resulting form Michael’s death.  But the reality of the resurrection means that our heartache is tempered knowing that it is only temporary.  We will see him again – that truth gives encouragement and hope in the midst of our grief.

By faith, we rejoice that Michael has finished his race well and is now in Christ’s presence.  Yes, we miss him much.  But our grief is not as others who do not have hope.

We love you, Michael.

Dad and Mom

Should you want to make a financial gift to help Joy and their two boys follow this link:  celebratemikeyeakley.com

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