Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

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

With a Little Help from My Friends

As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. … They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.    Luke 19:29-30,35 NIV

It’s Sunday morning of the Passion Week and Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem. He comes riding on a young colt which has been obtained for Him by two of His disciples. Note what happens when they bring the colt to Jesus for His triumphal entry into the city. They put their cloaks on its back and then, they “…put Jesus on it.”

Jesus had to have some help from his friends in getting onto the back of the colt. Probably a hand up or maybe someone knelt, and He stepped on their back in order to get onto the back of the colt. Jesus had help in mounting the back of the colt. He accepted this help in getting the colt and in getting on.

For some Kingdom leaders, accepting the help of others is difficult. We tend to be the ones who are always helping others. To admit that there are times when we need others to help us or when offered, accept the help from others, can be challenging for some. Remember how Peter responded when Jesus came to him and wanted to wash his feet? We read in John 13:6-8 (NIV), “He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”  Peter then quickly changed his mind and willingly accepted Jesus’ act of service.

Why is it so difficult to accept other’s help? Perhaps it’s a sense of self-sufficiency rooted in our pride. It feels good to help others, but to be helped means I can’t do it alone. I need the resources of others and in accepting their help I admit that I’m not capable myself. Kingdom leaders like to use their leadership resources to bless and help others, but to be helped means I’m needy.  It can be a rude awakening to acknowledge that leaders too need the help of those they serve.

What needs do you have that you are not willing to admit?  What needs do you have that you are not willing to ask others for help with?  What needs do you have that others have offered help, but you are unwilling to accept their help?

Even Jesus needed a little help from His friends!

Leading with an Eternal Value System

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 16:14-15 NIV)

In Luke 16, Jesus has a lot to say about money, how to manage it well, and warnings about how it can entangle your heart. How we steward the money God entrusts to us will determine whether the Lord can entrust us with more Kingdom responsibility. For the management of money is a little thing in light of the world, but a big thing when we talk about Kingdom values.

Kingdom leaders live and lead from an eternal value system; one that sees money as a wonderful tool to advance the Gospel, but a terrible master that can grab our hearts. Jesus reminds us that, “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.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV)

Luke, a Gentile who did not grow up with the Jewish Pharisees, adds this commentary concerning their values – they loved money! What a reputation for ones who are supposed to be God’s representatives, pointing people to Him. Note that Jesus says they justified their love of money to others. No doubt saying that they needed their great wealth and pursuit of it for righteous causes. But God knows our hearts. He knows our true motives – our temporal values that seek comfort and luxury in this world. The world says, “He who dies with the largest pile wins!” Jesus says, ” What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.”

Now let’s be clear. Money in and of itself has no moral value – it’s not good, bad, or purple. It’s our hearts attitude towards money that makes it useful or evil. If we fall in love with money, prioritizing it in our lives and leadership decisions, then it becomes a snare.

Kingdom leaders need money to accomplish our God-given mission. Jesus’ mission was supported by the generous gifts of several faithful women (see Luke 8). Paul gratefully received the financial and physical support of several of the local churches he helped establish. But it is how we handle these resources that reveals our hearts. Judas was the treasurer for the Twelve, “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:6 NIV)

Contrast Judas’ behavior with that of Paul regarding the handling of an offering for the poor believers in Jerusalem. “We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21 NIV) Paul went the extra mile to avoid any accusation of mismanagement of God’s resources.

How are your checks and balances regarding money and its use in your leadership? Who is making sure that you are acting in a way that is above reproach?

Is your heart filled with an eternal value system or one that has become entangled in the world’s temporal values?

Facing Our Fears

In Luke 8 we see three events where those involved were confronted with fear. Let’s look at these and draw some parallels for Kingdom leaders.

Luke 8:24-25 (ESV) – And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

The disciples had seen the waves crashing into their boat to the point of nearly being swamped and all drowning. Jesus was asleep and seemingly uncaring as to the threat they faced. They awaken Him with shouts of desperation. He arises, rebukes the raging storm and an immediate calm ensues.

Luke 8:36-37 (ESV) – And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.

The Gerasenes had seen the uncontrollable, demonized man now delivered of his demons, clothed, and in his right mind. The power of God had been manifested and they were so overcome with this that they asked Jesus to leave them. What an interesting response! Here the power of God had been shown to heal even the most difficult case and they did not ask Him for help with others who could have been helped by Jesus. Instead, they asked Him to leave, which He did.

The final instance is recorded in Luke 8:49-50 (ESV) – While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.”

Jairus, the synagogue ruler had come to Jesus begging for Jesus to join him at his house where his young daughter was near death. Jesus had agreed to accompany him to his home. On the way, messengers arrive with the sad news – it’s too late, Jairus’ daughter had died. No need to bother Jesus anymore. Jesus, sensing Jairus’ response to this devastating news, turns to him and says, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”

Kingdom leaders face many fears daily. Like the disciples in the midst of the storm, we face circumstances the arise completely out of our ability to control. The Covid-19 epidemic being a very recent example that threatens to overwhelm us, our ministries and seems as if we will all perish. Yet, He is more than aware of our predicaments and at the perfect time and perfect way, He rebukes the threat and calms the storm.

Like the Gerasenes we can see the power of God manifested in the lives or ministries of others yet fail to see that God can and will do it for us as well. We must invite Him to help us in our need. Or He will leave us to struggle on in our own power because we seek to trust in our own resources rather than His.

Or there is the fear of having begun the journey of faith with Jesus, we suddenly are confronted with bad news that would tend to deter us from continuing. We fear that it is a waste of time and effort to continue on, for it appears that our worst case scenario has now come to pass. We lose hope and turn back, giving way to fear instead of believing that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” Philippians 1:6

Kingdom leaders are called to face down our fears by faith in the One who knows no fear. Yes, we are afraid, but we are not controlled by our fears. We live and lead by faith the the Almighty One! On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

What are you facing today that is causing fear to arise in your heart and mind?

Turn your fear to faith in Him who cares for you and your leadership! He is able to do more than we can ask or imagine!

Living from the Inside Out

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? Luke 11:37-40 ESV

The Pharisee who was hosting Jesus to dinner was very surprised that Jesus did not wash before dinner. This was not an indictment of Jesus lack of personal hygiene. Rather, Jesus did not do the traditional ceremonial washings that the Pharisees followed – seeking ceremonial cleanliness.

Note how Jesus addresses the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. They paid great attention to outward cleanliness, but their hearts were full of greed and wickedness. To human appearances they were very righteous looking and acting. But to God, who knows their hearts, they were evil. The Lord God wants true righteousness – inward and outward holiness.

Kingdom leaders do model for others what it means to be and do as a follower of Jesus. Our profiles platform us and many are watching our example. We will be copied by others. But what others copy is what they can see on the outside. They don’t know our hearts, but God does. Should we slip into a lifestyle of hypocrisy we will find the Lord’s hand removed and our influence diminished. We will be exposed, for the Lord’s reputation is at stake and He is a jealous God who does not share His glory with another!

This slide into hypocrisy is more of a slow creep than a rapid decent. It begins with a small compromise. We know what’s right, but we choose to ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit. We justify our choice by saying, “It’s just a little thing. Don’t be too crazy about this. It really doesn’t matter in light of the much bigger issues of life.” But we can’t silence the voice of the Spirit and more importantly God will know your hypocrisy!

Two passages challenge me to live from the inside out, wanting integrity in my thoughts as well as my actions.

… Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. Luke 12:48 ESV

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. Luke 16:10 ESV

How’s your ‘hypocrisy meter’ reading today?

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 Comparison

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them… When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:20-22 NIV

It’s post-resurrection on a beach of the Sea of Galilee. Seven of the Twelve have spent the night fishing with no results. Jesus appears on the beach and encourages them to once more let down their nets. The resulting catch was so astounding that they even counted the results – 153 large fish! Now, having finished their haul and eaten breakfast with Jesus, He gets some personal time with Peter and John. They take a walk down the beach and Jesus discusses with Peter about his mission for the future.

Three times Jesus questions Peter about his love and commitment. No doubt you have heard of the change of language in the word use of ‘love’ from the first two ‘agape’ questions to the final ‘phileo’ one. Peter acknowledges his love for Jesus and Jesus responds with an action that demonstrates his confession – feed the people of God – His sheep. Having denied the Lord three times on the night before the crucifixion, he now is charged three times with this responsibility for continued engagement. Peter receives this commissioning and then asks a question, “What about him?”

The “him” refers to John who had followed them down the beach. Peter had received his mission and even been told by the Lord how it would end. Now Peter’s attention drifts to his friend following close behind them. “What’s going to happen to him?” he asks.

Jesus quickly draws Peter back to the main point – his own journey, not John’s. With a mild rebuke, He tells Peter to essentially focus on your own life and let me deal with John’s journey. John’s life and ministry would be very different from that of Peter’s, so no need for comparison between the two.

Kingdom leaders can begin to compare notes with each other regarding our respective callings, ministries, outcomes and/or life journeys the Lord has taken us on. What may have come from simple curiosity can quickly move to competition or envy. “Why didn’t I get that opportunity?” Why did the Lord do this with me and that with them?” “Why did the Lord treat them that way and me differently?” Note that all of these questions begin with “why,” assuming that we are owed an explanation from the Lord to justify His actions. Since we seem to be treated differently, the Lord should explain Himself so that it makes sense to us and seems ‘fair.’

Comparison does not end well. Focus on faithfulness to your mission and let the Lord deal with others according to His unique plan for them. Run hard to the tape, keeping your eyes fixed on Him!

Leadership Envy

The disciples of John the Baptist saw a problem.  Many of those involved in John’s ministry were now leaving him and going to be with Jesus.  Note their concern as expressed to John, “They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan–the one you testified about–look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (John 3:26 NIV)

With the decreasing crowd size, John could have been intimidated or discouraged with Jesus’ growing ministry, if he found his identity in his ministry and its ‘success’ measured in numbers.  But his response showed clearly that his identity was anchored in being the Lord’s servant and in doing His will regardless of ministry results – many or few.  John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. … He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:27, 30 ESV)

Kingdom leadership envy, jealousy, comparison – feeling better than or less than others, competitive spirit, or bitterness because of another’s ministry success can all emerge if we are not settled in our own calling, contribution, identity, and gifting.   When others (especially peers) seem to ‘succeed’ while we languish or struggle, these feelings can emerge, take root in our hearts, and ruin us.  It is for the Lord’s glory that we labor, not our own!

Below are some reminders on the topic that can be of help in keeping the right perspective.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”  (Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.  For who sees anything different in you?  What do you have that you did not receive?  If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?  (1 Corinthians 4:6-7 ESV)

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  (Matthew 25:14-15 ESV)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  (Romans 12:3 NIV)

Is there someone you are ‘secretly’ in competition with?  Is there someone you are comparing yourself to?  Are you envious of another’s success?

Repent!!!

Being and Doing

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”     1 Peter 1:14-16  NIV 1984

As followers of Christ, we are called both to ‘be’ and to ‘do.’  But note the order!

We are first to be holy for the One who calls us and whom we confess as Lord and Savior is holy.  Doing flows out of being.  If we are not holy on the ‘inside,’ in our hearts and minds, then our actions, our ‘doing’ is at best hypocritical, at worst, deceitful.

Kingdom leaders focus on being with Jesus before they seek to serve others for Jesus!  It is this abiding with Him that He reminds us of in John 15.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5  ESV  Notice the order – abide in Him….bears much fruit…. otherwise, apart from Him we can do nothing.

Leaders are doers.  We are never satisfied with the status quo, always seeking to change, improve, advance, accomplish, and further the mission we have been entrusted to steward.  It is this default to ‘doing’ that at times overrides the ‘being’ aspect of our lives.  The branch separates from the vine and assumes it will continue to bear fruit.  How foolish!

The demands upon us are straining our remaining closely attached to the Vine of Life.  Don’t let the chaos of the day consume your soul.  Remember the exhortation of Joshua to the leaders he was about to leave, “Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God.”   Joshua 23:11  ESV

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 1984

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…   Hebrews 12:2  NIV 1984

How’s your soul?

Are you fixed and focused on being with Him and knowing Him more deeply?

Not Chosen

Therefore, it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” So, they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.     Acts 1:21-26  NIV

It’s post-resurrection and seemingly during the period between the Lord’s ascension and the Day of Pentecost when the Church is birthed with the coming of the Holy Spirit.  An operational detail needed to be addressed, for the leadership team had an empty position to be filled.  Judas had betrayed the Lord and died, and now the Eleven needed to become the Twelve again by selecting a replacement.

They discussed the criteria for candidates, noting that anyone considered had to have been with Jesus from His baptism by John the Baptist through the ascension from the Mt. of Olives.  This narrowed the list down to two men – Barsabbas and Matthias.  They prayed, asking the Lord to direct and show them who He had chosen for this role.  They ‘voted’ and the lot fell to Matthias.

Think about Barsabbas who was not chosen.  This was now his second time of not making the ‘final cut.’  He had been with Jesus since His baptism and was among the crowd of Jesus’ disciples when Jesus chose the Twelve (see Luke 6:12-19).  But when Jesus called the names of those who would be on His apostolic training team, his name was not called.  No doubt he would have been disappointed, but maybe relieved as well?

But now the list was down to just two people – he and Matthias.  The 120 or so in the selection council were the committed ones and he was well thought of by them, having made it to the ‘finalist’ list.  However, once again Barsabbas was not selected by God and his peers to lead.  Ouch!

God selects the leaders (see Daniel 2:21) and Barsabbas had to wrestle with the reality that God had not chosen him – twice.  Did it mean that God disapproved of him?  Did it mean that God did not have a contribution for him to make?  These kinds of experiences can be unsettling or depressing for Kingdom leaders, for all of us have ambitions and when these are not fulfilled we are disappointed.

Think also of James and John asking to be placed in the top two positions at Jesus’ right and left hand.  Jesus did not rebuke them for their brash ambition or seeking to jump the line ahead of their brothers.  Rather, He said, “But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”  (NLT)  James and John were not chosen for these places in the Kingdom.

All Kingdom leaders will have multiple opportunities in our leadership careers where we are not chosen for a role and the mantle of leadership falls on someone else’s shoulder.  How we respond to this is key.  Do we sulk, get bitter, or angry against God?  Do we allow a divisive attitude to emerge and not wholeheartedly support the leadership of the chosen one?  We may even appear supportive on the outside, but in our hearts we are jealous or envious of the chosen one.

Have you had the experience of not being chosen, yet?  If not, then be prepared – it’s coming.  If so, how’s your heart?

 

Why Are You So Afraid?

Fear is a God-given emotion that has the benefit of protecting us from potential threats.  Only God does not know fear, for nothing is a threat to Him.  To be afraid of something is not sin.  But fear can become sin if we let it control us.  So, when Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid,” He is not suggesting that we ignore our fears.  That would be impossible.  But He is saying that we are not to be controlled by fear, rather, act in faith – faith in Him who knows no fear!

In the gospel of Mark, we find these references to fearful situations that the disciples faced.  Reflect on the circumstances of each incident that created the fear response.

Mark 4:40 ESV     He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  –  fear for physical safety

Mark 6:50 ESV      …for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  –  fear from a very unusual experience

Mark 9:32 ESV      But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.  –  fear of being thought of as stupid or incompetent

Mark 10:32 ESV     And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him…  –  fear of possible death from persecution

Mark 16:8 ESV     And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  –  fear of other’s opinions

Kingdom leaders face fear daily.  Nothing new here.  The only question we must answer is how do we respond?  Does our fear control us and dictate our actions?  Do we look to our own resources to deal with our perceived threat?  Or do we use these situations to remind us of our need for help from the Lord and the empowerment that can come only from Him?

We are not talking about putting on some ‘brave front’ or false bravado.  It’s OK to acknowledge whatever threat we encounter.  Foolishness denies the reality.  But faith names the threat and calls upon the Lord to help.  He has promised never to leave or forsake us.  He has promised to answer when we cry for His help.

… and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.   Psalm 50:15 ESV

What are you afraid of today?  Call for His help!

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