Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the category “#2 BE – Who a Leader Is”

Divided Loyalty

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. Luke 16:13-15 NIV

Jesus very pointedly addresses a core issue for the Pharisees. Note that Jesus points out their heart issue – they loved money. The accumulation of personal wealth was a high value for them. No doubt there were some who questioned this value, perhaps among the Pharisees themselves. But they justified their choices and behavior, making excuses and giving reasons that on the surface sounded plausible.

This value and behavior had become commonplace among the Pharisees, for Luke notes that they as a group all loved money. This love of money was seen by others around them, but they had become blinded to this conflict of interest. For Jesus points out that their root issue was not one of behavior or lifestyle, but rather one of the heart. They had become lovers of money instead of lovers of God.

Jesus rebukes their acceptance of loving money by saying that no one can serve two Masters. You cannot have a divided loyalty. Loving God and serving Him is not compatible with loving money and serving the accumulation of wealth.

Few Kingdom leaders wake up one day and decide to love money instead of loving God. Rather, it is a slow shift in values and heart direction, incrementally drawing us away from our first love. Little choices made daily over a long time frame gradually allows new values to replace old. We compare our choices and lifestyles with others, focusing only on those that support our own values while ignoring those who live sacrificial, self-denying lives. We justify ourselves saying, “Well, no need to get too radical here.”

Our hearts speak through our value-driven choices and resulting behaviors. What are you modeling for those you lead and for the lost world that is looking for authentic faith? How’s your heart? What do you really love in this life? Or should we say, “Who do you love?”

Deferring to Others – A Sign of Humility

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11 ESV

Have you noticed a difference in how you are treated by others now that you are a recognized leader in the Kingdom? Before accepting this calling you got little attention from others when attending an event. But now that you have this title or role, others want your attention and usher you to special seats at certain events. It’s easy to assume that you are somehow more important and your ego will crave this type of special attention.

Note that Jesus observed the banquet attendees clamoring for seats of honor. His parable addressed this attitude of self-promotion and self-aggrandizement. His summary was not to diminish the honor that came with certain seats, but rather, it was how you attained that honor. If you sought the honor, you were disqualified. Better to defer that honor to another and then receive it back later.

It’s right that you as a leader be given certain prominence in meetings but be careful about your heart. If you expect to be treated as special, you will have a rude awakening when you are no longer the leader and not given special treatment, for that now goes to your successor. If you continue to pursue this attention or if you think you deserve it (“I sacrificed for them, thus they owe me”), be careful, for you may be publicly embarrassed when others take your place.

Better to defer to others, letting them have the honor due them for their current role, not expecting anything for your previous service. God knows your sacrificial service and He will reward. Then, should you be asked into a place of honor, watch out! Your ego can convince you that, “Well, it’s about time someone noticed me! I’m an important person you know!” It can be so subtle!

Be wise and be circumspect, especially in public gatherings. Defer places of honor and special treatment to others. Never be self-seeking or self-promoting!

Leadership Types- 2

I’m still on a short break from writing this weekly leadership blog. Below is an excerpt from George Barna’s book, A Fish Out of Water, with his understanding regarding the characteristics of two of four leader types – Team Building leaders and Operational leaders. Enjoy!

Team Building Leaders

  • Able to identify & pursue appropriate people, determine their gifts, & knit them into complementary work units
  • Provide the emotional energy to keep teams going
  • Love the interactive dimension of the chase
  • View people as puzzle pieces for the vision
  • Love to enable & empower people
  • Blend vision & personal ability by organizing people
  • Inveterate networkers
  • Being with people energizes them
  • Energize others
  • Make others feel heard & understood
  • Use charisma & popularity to motivate people to get involved & to excel
  • Don’t like meetings, paperwork, or memos
  • Tend to ignore anything on paper
  • Tendency to waffle on details
  • Can invest too much trust & confidence in others—“get burned”
  • Inattention to structure & management burns others

Operational Leaders

  • Structural architects and masters of process
  • Develop systems around the vision, resources & opportunities available
  • Create new routines that serve the purpose
  • Excel at creating dissonance to facilitate change
  • Craft a persuasive case
  • Get everybody moving in the same direction
  • Build systems that tie contributions together
  • Provide stability, predictability, & consistency
  • Create new opportunities & solutions (unlike managers, who tend to refine processes)
  • May be well-liked; low-key & low profile
  • Initiate, coordinate, integrate, facilitate, evaluate & enhance the efforts of others
  • Hate inefficiency, loose ends, communication break-downs, cost-overruns, missed deadlines & legal crises
  • Concrete thinkers
  • Focus on practical operational details
  • Sometimes champion the mechanics of a system rather than the vision
  • Dislike conflict; may surrender too easily
  • Avoid delivering bad news

Leadership Types -1

I’m still on a short break from writing this weekly leadership blog. Below is an excerpt from George Barna’s book, A Fish Out of Water, with his understanding regarding the characteristics of two of four leader types – Strategic leaders and Directive leaders. Enjoy!

Strategic Leaders

  • Vision developers & shapers (not vision conceivers & communicators)
  • Shun the limelight
  • Enjoy intellectual challenges, problem-solving, & foreseeing future results
  • Turn compelling ideas into a viable plan of action
  • Painstakingly scrutinize reality
  • Don’t hesitate to ask the hard questions
  • Able to develop creative & complex solutions
  • Give detailed answers
  • Tendency toward perfectionism & burnout
  • Likely to view people’s emotions as something to be exploited than as something to be valued
  • Firm allegiance to truth & efficiency
  • More loyal to the vision than to people
  • Care for people, but mistrust feelings
  • Take too long to arrive at decisions
  • Capable of juggling many conceptual details, but not organizational details
  • Effective at identifying kinds of teams & work groups needed, but not good at recruiting and maintaining them

Directive Leaders

  • Project typical leader image
  • Vision-casters; create energy around the vision
  • Recruiters—enlist people to become part of the solution rather than the problem
  • Catalysts of change
  • Enable people to believe in themselves
  • Effective public speakers & good listeners
  • Make decisions on behalf of a group
  • Driven by instinct rather than facts
  • Can abruptly change their minds
  • Do not avoid making tough calls, though can be slow about it due to lack of clarity or peace
  • Tendency to burn out
  • Self-confidence & courage soothe others during times of high stress or instability
  • Little patience with details of the process
  • Restless, short attention span
  • Favor action over reflection
  • Quick to move on to the next challenge
  • Demand expedience & progress, but don’t find out what’s going on
  • Don’t care for structure; Promote chaos when they attempt to organize people around the vision
  • Supremely confident in themselves
  • Tend to ignore financial realities
  • Want to make things happen now
  • Love the chase

Fearful?

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:4-7 ESV

Kingdom leaders will often have access to a lot of information that those they lead do not. Because of our strategic role, we have to be looking forward to the horizon and seeking to discern what’s coming that will impact our mission sooner or later? This forward look for potential threats can lead to a reactive, fear-based leadership rather than a proactive, faith-based leadership.

In the passage above Jesus reminds us (His friends) that it is a matter of perspective that can help us deal with our fears. His reminder is that physical death is not something to fear, for after one dies there is nothing more that can be done to us. For believers in Christ, death is a promotion! Rather, we should fear God for He is the one who holds our eternal destiny, not our current temporal existence that ends with our last breath.

And then Jesus brings perspective. He contrasts the fate of a small bird sold for a very cheap price to our own fate. Those seemingly insignificant small birds are not forgotten by God. Neither will we be forgotten by Him, for we are much more valuable than birds! We are so valuable and He is so intimately acquainted with us that He regularly counts the number of hairs on our head!

What fears are you seeing on your leadership horizon that keep you awake at night? What fears are distracting you from your focus on Christ and His promises? What threats are you aware of that cause your neck muscles to tense, your stomach to churn, and your blood pressure to rise?

The reality of the Lordship of Jesus Christ is the answer to all our fears. He is the Alpha and Omega. He reigns over all of His creation. Nothing is too hard for Him. Submit your fears to Him and lead out in faith, not fear!

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34 ESV

Accepting Honor Graciously

Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. Luke 5:29 NIV

Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor… John 12:2 NIV

Notice the many times Jesus was placed in a position of honor. Note also how graciously and ‘easily’ He accepted the honor and praise of others. Whether it was a banquet held in His honor by Matthew the tax collector or a dinner given in His honor at the home of His friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary – He readily accepted these honoring events and moved among those in attendance easily.

Jesus accepted these and other acts of honor and thanksgiving directed at Him without any sense of false humility – “Oh not for me, to God be the glory…” “Oh, I am but a humble servant…” Rather, He was ‘comfortable in His own skin,’ knowing that He was worthy of the praise and honor of others, He readily accepted their accolades.

Yet, you say to me, “Well of course, He was Jesus and I’m not!” You are right in saying you are not Jesus! But it seems that often those Kingdom leaders who do much for others in their service have difficulty in receiving thanks or honor in return for their service. They serve not to seek the honor or praise of others. But for some it can be difficult to receive their gratitude for the servant leadership offered.

It is right for those we have helped in our leadership to want to express their gratitude for our help. When they come to you with some expression of thankfulness, a simple response can be all that’s needed. “Thanks so much for this. I’m so encouraged to know that I was of some help. Thank you.”

That’s all that’s needed – a simple “thank you.” And if someone were to throw a banquet in your honor and say very nice things about you, remember this –

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NIV

Growing in Wisdom

And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. … Luke 2:39-40 ESV

And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:51-52 ESV

Anyone who leads knows that we often face decisions, circumstances, and crises that are beyond our ability and experience. Leading in the Kingdom of God, seeking to further His divine purposes, we work to align our leadership with Him and accomplish the mission for which we have been called. We definitely need wisdom from above to solve the daily challenges of Kingdom leading. But how to get it?

We note in the passages above that godly wisdom can be given even to the young and inexperienced. Jesus being fully God and fully man, He grew up from a human perspective. Jesus grew as a young man under the tutelage of his parents and was ‘filled with wisdom before the age of 12 (see Luke 2:42). And then at 12 years of age through His teens and 20’s He ‘increased in wisdom’ until the beginning of His public ministry with the baptism by John at the age of 30 (see Luke 3:23).

Solomon was a young man when he succeded his father, David, as king of Israel. He soon realized that he did not have the wisdom needed to lead. Thus, he asked God for help. ” ‘Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?’ It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.” I Kings 3:9-10 ESV

Do you feel ‘out of your depth’ in your current leadership role? If so, ask God for help. Ask God for the wisdom you need to accomplish His desires in and through you. He gives wisdom freely to those who ask, regardless of age.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Becoming a High-Yield Field

As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty. Matthew 13:23 ESV

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus mentions four different types of soil.  Each soil receives the seed, but only one, the good soil, produces a crop.  The problem is not in the seed, but rather with the soil.  How can we be sure we are becoming good soil that will yield a bumper crop?

The good soil is the person who hears and understands God’s message.  High-yield soil receives God’s Word and seeks to apply it to their lives.  The soil does not work to produce the crop.  Rather it simply provides the environment for the seed to reach its full potential and do the purpose for which it was planted.  The life and power are in the seed! If we give ourselves to God and applying His Word to our lives, we too will become a high-yield field!

  • What does God say about the power of His Word in the following verses? — Isaiah 55:8-11; Jeremiah 23:29
  • What do the following passages say about the crop that the Lord is looking for in our lives? — Matthew 7:15-20; Galatians 5:19-26

Question to ponder:  Is there anything that is hindering God from producing the crop in your life that He desires?

Passages for further study: Jeremiah 17:7-8; John 15:1-17

A Heart for People

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 ESV

What was the purpose in Jesus’ coming?  Jesus Himself summed it up by saying that He, “came to seek and to save the lost.”  People without a personal relationship with Jesus are lost—separated from God.  In another place He refers to them as sheep without a shepherd. Jesus came seeking those people that they might be reconciled once again to God.  He still seeks the lost today.

Jesus has committed to His followers the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).  As Christ’s ambassadors, we seek to persuade men and women to put their trust in Him that they may be reconciled back to God.  Our passion is Christ and His passion is people.  As we grow in our heart for God we will also grow in His passion for people.

  • God deeply cares for the lost.  What do the three parables in Luke 15 reveal about God’s heart for the lost? —  Luke 15:1-7; Luke 15:8-10; Luke 15:11-32
  • We can grow in our own heart for the lost.  What is said in the following passages about growing in our heart for people?  —  Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Peter 1:5-9

Questions to ponder:  What are your passions in life? Is one of them a passion to see people reconciled back to God? Why or why not?

Passages for further study: Psalm 51:10; Romans 8:5-11

Growing in Humility

All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Isaiah 66:2 ESV

Humility is an essential character quality for a disciple of Christ.  True humility begins by understanding our total dependence on God for our very existence.  God supports the humble, but He resists (actively works against) and will bring low the proud.

God is committed to building humility into our lives.  We can choose the easy way or the hard way to learn humility. We can humble ourselves or have God humble us.  Growing in humility sets us free to serve others.

  • The easier way to grow in humility is to humble ourselves.  What is stated in the following passages about humbling ourselves? —  John 13:12-17; Philippians 2:5-11
  • The more painful way to grow in humility is to be humbled by God.  What is stated about God’s humbling process in the following verses? — Job 24:22-24; Proverbs 15:25; Isaiah 26:4-5

Questions to ponder:  What opportunities is God currently giving you to grow in humility? Are you embracing them?

Passages for further study: James 4:6-10; 1 Peter 5:5-6

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