Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

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

The Other Side of the Door

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 ESV

Illness, injury, aging, and death are all enemies of our physical bodies.  But this will not always be so.  For believers, there is the hope of the resurrection from the dead when we will be given new bodies that are free from these enemies.  We will all have heavenly, eternal bodies that do not age, weaken, or die.

The fact of the resurrection of the dead is the great hope for followers of Jesus.  Jesus’ resurrection was the demonstration to us that our hope is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).  Death is no longer a terminus, but rather a junction – a doorway to a new life with a new, perfect body.  What a wonderful reality awaits us on the other side of the door!

  • Jesus rose from the dead as proof that what He promised us will come to pass.  What do the following passages say about Christ’s resurrection? — John 20:24-31; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
  • Just as Jesus rose from the dead with a new, eternal body, so will His followers.   What is said in the following passages about the resurrection? — John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:35-44; 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Question to ponder:  How does the reality of death and the hope of the resurrection impact your daily life and leadership?

Passages for further reflection: John 5:24-26; John 6:38-40

It is Finished!

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 ESV

Jesus’ last words from the cross were, “It is finished.”  What was finished?  Certainly there was more to done, wasn’t there?  There were thousands who had not yet heard.  There were thousands more who needed healing.  How could He say His job was complete?

Jesus’ completed task was actually two-fold.  He was first to train a small group of leaders to carry on His ministry after He left to return to the Father.  They would go on to reach the unreached after He was gone.  In His prayer the night before the crucifixion He says that He has completed this task (see John 17:4).  The second aspect of His mission was to redeem mankind from sin, taking upon Himself the punishment for sin that we deserve.  He accomplished this with His sacrificial death on our behalf.

  • Jesus preached to thousands, healed many and trained twelve disciples to carry on His work after He was gone.  What do the following verses say about His ministry to the Twelve? — Mark 3:14-19; Mark 4:33-34
  • Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin and set us free.  What do the following passages say was accomplished by Jesus’ death? — Romans 5:12-19; Hebrews 10:5-14

Question to ponder:  What does Jesus’ death and resurrection mean to you personally and how does this impact your leadership?

Passages for further reflection:  John 12:23-28; Titus 2:11-14

Modeling the Life of Jesus

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV

Note the order in the above verse – first, Paul followed the example of Jesus as he sought to live and lead like Jesus. Next, he encouraged others to follow his personal example as he followed Jesus. Many, many things can be learned and internalized by imitating others.

Yes, we are all imperfect people who are all in process. None of us can claim to ‘have arrived.’ We are all patients in the same hospital, everyone checks in and no one checks out until we finish our race. Those of us who have been in the hospital longer than others can point the newcomers to the treatment rooms. But we humbly acknowledge that we still go to the same treatment rooms ourselves.

Let’s not let the fact that we are growing and moving towards maturity, with our evident shortcomings and weaknesses, mute us from intentionally modeling Jesus-like life and leadership for others. The Lord is not looking for perfect people to lead in His Kingdom. He is looking for those who acknowledge their dependency upon Him, humbly submit to His leadership in their lives and seek to apply what they learn from Him in their own lives and leadership of others.

This principle of modeling for others automatically rules out the phrase, “Do what I say, not what I do.” As has been said, “If it doesn’t work at ‘home,’ don’t export it!” As a Kingdom leader, others are continually watching your example for guidance in how to navigate their own life. They will do what you do, not what you say. If you make excuses for why the ‘rules’ don’t apply to you, they too will feel the freedom to live as they desire. Your example carries a lot of influence – hopefully for good!

Where are Kingdom leaders challenged to be examples for others? Below are several passages that relate specifically to Kingdom leaders as models and examples for others to imitate.

Hebrews 13:7 ESV – Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

1 Timothy 4:12 ESV – Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

1 Peter 5:1-3 ESV – So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

Titus 2:7-8 ESV – Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Are you aware that many others are watching your life and will copy what you do and say? This reality should be sobering and keep us close to Him as we steward the responsibilities that He has entrusted to us.

May we all say, “Follow me, as I follow Christ!”

Even Tax Collectors!

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Luke 3:12-13 NIV

All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. Luke 7:29 NIV

If there ever was a despised group of people within the first century Jewish culture it was the tax collectors. They were often grouped with the ‘sinners’ – those Jews who had abandoned their Jewish faith and were living like Gentiles. Tax collectors were servants of the Roman Empire and in Palestine, they were often Jews who enforced the tax laws of the Empire upon their fellow countrymen. In addition, they were often very corrupt and oppressed their neighbors by collecting more taxes than the law required, keeping the balance for themselves. By serving the Romans and using their position for personal enrichment they became a despised group.

In His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the tax collectors as an example. “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Matthew 5:46 NIV Here again the tax collectors serve as an extreme example – even they love those who love them back. Certainly, if tax collectors can love others, you Kingdom people are called to a higher standard – to love your enemies.

Jesus selected Matthew (Levi) as one of His Twelve, the executive leadership team for His ministry. It’s hard to underestimate how radical this was for a Jewish rabbi to associate closely with a tax collector. Note that Jesus was questioned by the Jewish leaders as to why He would socialize with “tax collectors and sinners?” “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:15-17 NIV

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. … When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-2, 5-10 NIV

I wonder who the despised, “tax collectors and sinners” are today? Who are the sick that desperately need the healing touch of the Gospel? Who are those who the religious people would question why Kingdom leaders are associating with them?

As a Kingdom leader, are you nervous about what other leaders think?

Do you have a reputation you’re trying to protect?

Leadership Destiny

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” … For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:28, 37-38 ESV

And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. … When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” … Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:2, 4, 10 ESV

Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. … Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”… And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them…” Genesis 37:5, 9-10; 42:9 ESV

Note that with both Mary, Moses, and Joseph the Lord took the initiative to call and direct His people, setting before them their personal destiny – God’s purposes in and through them. Their destiny was not immediately fulfilled, rather they had to trust that the Lord’s plan for them would happen even though it seemed to be long in coming. Their individual obedience to submit to God’s plan required faith and courage, regardless of the acceptance or support of others.

As Kingdom leaders we can expect the Lord to call and direct us into the path He has for us. We can trust that His plans for us cannot be frustrated or blocked completely by any opposing forces. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 ESV He will fulfill His promises. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 ESV

The journey may not unfold as we anticipate, but the destination is sure.

God’s delays do not mean God’s denials!   

Don’t doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light!

Trust Him!

Your Assumptions are Showing!

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith… Mark 6:5-6 NIV

Jesus had come home to Nazareth after an extended time away. Having launched His public ministry in Jerusalem and Judea, He had moved to Capernaum and large crowds followed Him, listening to His teaching and observing His many miracles. By this time His popularity had increased such that even King Herod had heard of Him (see Mark 6:14).

Now He came back to His boyhood home and gave to them the same opportunity the other villages of Judea and Galilee had received. He entered the synagogue at Nazareth and taught them about the Kingdom of God. Mark had already noted that when Jesus taught, He did not quote other rabbis as sources of authority as was the custom. Rather, He contrasted their thoughts with His own, claiming a greater authority. This caused questions and confusion among those who knew Him. “… and many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?'” (Mark 6:2 NIV)

These people had certain assumptions about Jesus (see Mark 6:3). He was a man who had grown up in their village like many other young men. He had brothers and sisters like many families. He had learned from His father the trade of carpentry and had worked among them as a carpenter. He had never received religious training to be a rabbi and yet here He was teaching others about the Kingdom of God and recruiting disciples. They had heard that He was performing all sorts of miracles and certainly the crowds that followed Him seemed to indicate something unusual about Him. But, their assumptions about Him blocked their faith and they took offense at Him. As a result He could not do any miracles among them, other than a few minor healings.  Why?

It was their assumptions that led to their unbelief and lack of faith in Him. They did not even bother to ask Him for help! Certainly, Jesus’ power was the same in Nazareth as elsewhere. But, their previous assumptions about Him did not allow them to even consider asking Him for help. No wonder Jesus was ‘amazed at their lack of faith!”

What assumptions about Jesus do you have that are negatively influencing your leadership? The opportunity for Jesus to show Himself strong on your behalf is extended, but will your assumptions about Him lead to unbelief and a lack of even bothering to ask for His help? He has stated that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. Will you even ask for His help?

“…You do not have because you do not ask God.”   James 4:2  NIV

A Life Pleasing to God

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. … and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and 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 Thessalonians 4:1,11-12 NIV

Paul was writing to a group of disciples in Thessalonica who were trying to understand what kind of life they should model amid great challenges. Their new faith now put them at odds with the prevailing cultural norms. Their first allegiance was to Jesus, their Lord and Savior. That was settled in their hearts and minds. But how to live life day to day with its constant reminders that they were ‘out of sync’ with the cultural majority?

Paul gives several guiding principles to help with the daily decisions the believers faced.  First, the goal is not to seek to please oneself, but to live a life that pleases God.  We seek the ‘applause of One,’ longing to hear His voice say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Secondly, he instructs them to pursue a ‘quiet life’ that does not draw undo attention or draw the ire of the majority.  They are to ‘mind their own business’ and not meddle in the affairs of others.  Now should persecution arise, a believer’s loyalty to Christ must not waiver.  Just as many followers of Jesus have died for their faith, so they (we) too must be willing to do so if required.  But don’t go looking for trouble or seek martyrdom.  “Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion.”  Ecclesiastes 9:4  NIV

Third, they are encouraged to live productive lives, working hard with their own hands so that the manner and quality of their lives would be a witness to the unbelieving world around them. As they work, they must avoid becoming entangled with the world and its affairs (see 2 Timothy 2:4), shunning  any dependency upon outsiders to the faith.  These obligations or entanglements could be used to force compromise or denial of the faith and are thus to be avoided.

As Jesus sent out the Twelve in pairs to carry out His mission, He warned them, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16  NIV 

May we have ears to hear! 

Making Wise Personnel Decisions – 4

As you lead, personnel decisions will be the most time-consuming and challenging to make.  Most will be some shade of gray – not black and white and obvious. Below are some final thoughts related to making wise personnel decisions.

How do you fire someone?

For some Kingdom leaders it may come as a surprise that part of your job is not just to hire great people, but also to fire (out-place) some.  Ugghhh!  No leader likes to fire others.  It can be a stomach-turning experience. But, there are times when it is the best thing to do for the person and for the mission. 

In today’s litigious society, it is very wise to get counsel involved in any firing process. Experts in HR and labor laws should be in your circle of counsel. And make sure these resource people are in on any conversation early in the process.  These advisors know the legal ‘landmines’ to avoid when firing someone and other consequences that may result like severance packages, unemployment obligations, how to communicate the termination to staff and the public, etc. 

In particular, it is very important to document the process involved when terminating an employee (have a paper trail). Keep records of job descriptions, annual reviews, conversations had regarding work performance, emails, etc.  It should not be a surprise to the person being fired when they are asked to resign. 

After termination, questions may arise when we are asked by someone’s new, potential employer when they are doing a background check. What to say – legally and ethically should be examined. Or, after terminating an employee, we may find out that they are now serving in a different ministry that did not contact us or do a background check with us as to their employment history. Depending upon the reason for termination, we may have ethical choices to make on whether to talk to their new employer as to their history with us.

Terminating someone’s employment – whether it be for a sin issue (i.e. moral failure) or lack of doing what was agreed to or expected for the job – must be well-thought through.  What is communicated to team members, ministry members, financial donors and the general public needs to be examined by multiple parties.  There are certain legal issues that may constrain what can and cannot be said to these various audiences.  Don’t just “wing it!”

Don’t expect agreement on personnel decisions.  These are judgment calls and there are good reasons on all sides of any decision.  Ask the Holy Spirit’s help in these decisions and trust Him to lead you. 

And finally, remember – some personnel decisions may look bad in the short term, but long term are seen as wise.  Wisdom is known by its children!  Luke 7:35

Making Wise Personnel Decisions – 3

We continue our discussion on making wise personnel decisions as Kingdom leaders. Today’s topic is one where we definitely need wisdom from above – James 1:5.

Discerning between care or development needs versus too costly a use of limited resources 

  1. When we use the term ‘too costly,’ what does this mean?  If a staff needs professional counseling, for example, who pays for the counseling and for how long?  What type of outcomes/change are we expecting from this counseling that will determine whether they stay or leave?  Define the process, responsibilities and outcomes before you start the process!
  2. Do we send/allow staff to pursue advanced degrees (i.e. leadership, counseling, seminary degrees) as part of their personal development? There are legal implications, labor laws that apply here – especially when using donor funds (untaxed, organizational funds) to pay for degrees that are not relevant to current roles and may prepare them for different jobs.  Know the law before you give permission on this!
  3. When a staff or employee fails to fulfill their responsibilities, we would hope that there will be change/improvement given more time and good supervision. We are sometimes tempted to think that changing the environment (i.e. job or supervisor) will bring improvement, but, in my experience, this rarely helps.
  4. We want to help people succeed by resourcing them well.  Jesus said, “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden. The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”   Luke 13:6-9  NLT
  5. Note the attempt to bring fruitfulness to the barren tree within a specific time frame.  Three years of patiently expecting results were now coupled with an additional year given for change with added attention and ‘fertilizer’ from the gardener.  But, there were limits. If there is not the expected change after the additional year of help, then the gardener is to ‘cut it down.’
  6. What to do when a leader violates trust – for example, demonstrates a moral failure? There is no ‘formula’ for this situation.  We must be wise and visit this on a case-by-case basis. Restoration of the fallen or wounded is our primary goal and we would want to have a strong bias towards this. We don’t want to ‘shoot our wounded.’  When a leader sins, we can and should seek to restore them to fellowship with their appropriate repentance and time for healing.  But the question arises on whether we should restore them to leadership once a trust is broken?  Prudence and wisdom would seem to guide us to evaluate the heart and actions of the individual as well as the nature of trust that was broken.  As in all complex personnel issues, the answer ‘ it depends’ means we need the guidance of the Spirit to discern our course of action.
  7. How do we act in love to those leaders who have broken trust? It is not necessarily loving to ‘forgive and forget.’  Certainly there will be a ‘disciplining’ of those who have broken trust.  The Lord does discipline those He loves (Hebrews 12:1-13).  But His discipline is not unending and it does yield change – the ‘fruit of righteousness.’
  8. We can expect a difference of opinions on what to do. Those with mercy and compassion gifts may not want to fire or lose someone from the team or mission.  They may tend to think that with the right care, given more time and help we will see lasting change and the person be recovered.  A different view from those with more prophetic, exhortation or leadership gifts may emphasize mission over person and not want to risk entrusting leadership authority and responsibility to someone who has previously proven unfaithful.  These are always difficult decisions.
  9. A general principle here is Luke 6:31 – “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”  The Golden Rule of Leadership is – Lead others the way you would want to be led.

Year End Reflection

What a year 2020 has been!!!!  As we end one and begin a new calendar year, it’s good to pause and reflect upon what was and what we hope will be.  It is through reflection that we can gain perspective and see more clearly the overarching, God-orchestrated, macro movements of our lives.

Leaders are often too busy to stop and reflect.  We always have more things to do and people to see.  We take one item off of the do-list and add three more!  Who has time to stop and think?

Today…..now is the time to stop and reflect upon who you are becoming and what you are doing!  Your personal diary, journal or devotional notebook can be of great help to you as you look back and observe themes or topics the Lord has been addressing in you.  Here are some questions to get you started in this reflection time.

Are you satisfied with your own personal spiritual walk and growth?  More importantly, is Jesus pleased with your pursuit of Him?  How’s your current pace of life?  Is it sustainable long-term?  Do you have a margin in your schedule?  Are you living and leading from an overflow?  How’s your family doing?  Are you paying the price to experience the marriage you committed to on your wedding day?  Are you investing deeply in your children and grandchildren, knowing that the years for significant influence are rapidly passing you by?

What fears are you trying to ignore related to your leadership?  Are you leading with faith and courage?  Are you more concerned about your reputation or God’s glory?  Is the vision of where you are leading to focused or foggy?  Do you have a team that is unified and empowered around a shared vision?  Are you making progress in the God-given mission that you intended to accomplish?

These and many more questions are helpful for taking stock of where you are today and where you intend to be/go tomorrow.  Use this season for reflection and refocus as you start a new year full of new hope and new beginnings.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.    Hebrews 12:1-2  NIV

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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