Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the category “#3 DO – What a Leader Does”

Leadership Paradigm Shift

There has been a fundamental shift in how Kingdom leaders lead. This change came at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to all believers, not just God’s chosen leaders.

In the Old Testament paradigm, God’s anointing and His Spirit rested upon specific leaders enabling them to know God’s will and communicate it to His people. In Moses’ recounting of God giving Israel the Law on Mt. Sinai, he illustrates this, “At that time I stood between the LORD and you to declare to you the word of the LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain)… Deuteronomy 5:5 NIV God spoke to Moses and he delivered God’s message to the people.

But after the Holy Spirit came upon all believers in the New Testament we now have a different leadership paradigm. Yes, Kingdom leaders are still God’s anointed for their responsibilities. But these leaders are now leading God’s people who themselves have His Spirit within them. We are leading fellow members of God’s family, His children, who also have God living within them. “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15-16 NIV

Thus, when leading others – our leadership team or our ‘flock’ that we shepherd – Kingdom leaders today must realize that the Spirit can also speak directly to those we lead. In our New Testament paradigm we don’t have the opportunity to say, “God told me that…” and assume that those we lead will automatically accept it as God’s will. Because they too have direct access to the Lord’s voice, we should listen carefully for confirmation from those we lead, especially the spiritually mature.

It may well be God’s direction was known by the leader, but if it is, we can assume it will be confirmed by the Spirit within many of those we lead. I’m not suggesting that decisions should be 100% consensus (this can be tyranny by the minority), but a wise leader will listen to the voices from those led, discerning what the Spirit is saying through them. Should there be a lack of agreement, wisdom and prudence would suggest to wait and rethink the direction, seeking more clarity.

Remember, “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” Proverbs 19:2 NIV 1984

The Faith Walk Life

“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” … But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:6, 15-16 NIV

At Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus he saw a vision of the risen Lord Jesus. The vision was such that it literally blinded him for the next three days until the Lord sent Ananias to pray over and heal him.

After Paul’s blinding vision he was given a short-term assignment, “…get up and go into the city (Damascus) and wait to be told what you must do.” The vision and directions were very clear to Paul, but they were not long term. That would come much later. For now, he must get up from the ground and be led by his traveling companions into the city and wait. Wait for what? For more direction? Would he receive his sight again? What about his current ‘career?’ So many questions, so few answers!

This is the faith walk life. The Lord reminds us that, “His righteous ones will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17; 2 Corinthians 5:7). God sets before us a direction or path to begin to follow. We have enough clarity to begin to move, but little more. Our flesh cries out for more security – we want to see further, know more, and be assured of every step along the way. But God remains silent on the details. He does direct our paths as we trust Him (Proverbs 3:5-6), but it will be in His way and His timing. It is a walk by faith, not by sight!

Paul sat in Damascus for the next three days with not further clarity, no healing, and no further word from the Lord. From his perspective he had be left alone, forgotten by God. But we know that the Lord was at work. He was speaking to Ananias, convincing him to go to Paul and pray over him for healing. Three days of silence for Paul. Three days to convince Ananias that this was a good thing to go and heal the persecutor. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

Have you begun a journey of faith and now find yourself ‘stalled?’ The guidance from the Lord got you to this place, this time, this circumstance – but now, nothing. All is quiet. You’ve been patiently waiting for more direction from Him, but nothing has come. Your tempted to make something happen. At least do something rather than just sit and wait. Don’t do it! “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14 NIV

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. Proverbs 19:2 NIV 1984

Launching the New Year

2022 has ended and now we launch 2023!  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 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 2023!

Telling and Remembering

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:5-8 NIV

It has been said, “Teaching is not telling and hearing is not understanding.” Jesus had told these women and His other followers multiple times about His pending death and promised resurrection. These angels had to remind them of what He had told them previously. After this prompting by the angels concerning what Jesus had said previously, “they remembered His words.”

It has also been said, “Now that we’ve put it in writing, we need to teach people how to read.” Kingdom leaders and their communication challenges lead to confusion, misunderstanding, and wasted effort. Leaders can assume that those they lead remember what they’ve said. This can be a costly assumption. If the disciples did not remember what Jesus said, odds are they won’t remember what you say. Don’t assume your communications are being read, understood, or applied. You will need to remind them as the angels did with these women disciples.

Over-communicate those things that are especially important. Choose multiple means and times to state the important. Beginning with your mission and vision, make it hard for others to misunderstand what they are being asked to accomplish. Don’t assume that slick graphics or catchy phrases will ensure understanding and engagement. Say it again but say it in such a way that others will hear. Jesus sent two angels to remind these women of what He had said.

Remember what Peter said, “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” 2 Peter 1:12 NIV

Leadership Changes

“So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus–from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.” So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven. Acts 1:21-26 NLT

During the ten days between the Lord’s ascension back to heaven from the Mount of Olives until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, Peter suggested that they choose a replacement for Judas Iscariot who had betrayed Jesus. He said this based upon Psalm 109:8 which talks of another who will replace the lost one. Let’s note some principles for replacing leaders.

First, we note that before they talked about specific people, they defined the qualifications for the candidates. A candidate would be, “from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus–from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us.” Any candidate would be a man who had been with Jesus since the time of His baptism by John the Baptist until the ascension back to heaven just recently. This would be a ‘high bar’ to meet and would ensure someone who had seen and heard what the other Eleven had experienced with Jesus. Define the qualities, characteristics, and competencies needed for the job.

Secondly, we see that they defined the ‘job’ of this new replacement. “Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.” Clarify the job that the candidate will fulfill. Put it in writing!

Third, identify candidates who meet the qualifications for the job. The disciples identified two men – Mattias and Barsabbas who met the qualifications.

Fourth, they prayed and asked for the Lord to show who He had chosen for this vital role. The Eleven were really leading a process of discernment, seeking to identify the individual whom the Lord had already chosen. This was a spiritual process, not a political one.

Last, we note that they made the decision between the two – doing so by casting lots. This may seem arbitrary, or chance driven, but culturally it was a common method for decision making – similar to our casting votes. It was choosing black or white stones out of a bag, or long straw vs short straw. Regardless of the specific means, they trusted that God would direct the final choice to the one whom He had already chosen.

Kingdom leaders will be chosen and will transition their leadership to another – it is a matter of when, not if. Prepare now for the steps in the process of the selection, as well as those steps for the transition to another. May you do it with grace and in a God-honoring way!

Asking for and Accepting Help

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

As Jesus neared Jerusalem on Sunday of the Passion Week (Palm Sunday), he needed help. To fulfill the prophesy of Zechariah (see Zech. 9:9), He needed a colt to ride into the city. So, He asked (directed) two of the Twelve to go before Him into the village and bring back the colt for Him. They did as directed and return with the colt, placing their cloaks upon the back of the colt and then lifted Jesus up onto the back of the animal. Jesus then rode the colt into Jerusalem as people laid palm branches in front of the colt, shouting and praising God as He entered the city.

Note the help Jesus needed in the recruitment of resources (a colt to ride) and the assistance He needed to get onto the animal. Here is the King of Kings asking for and accepting help from others. What humility!

Many Kingdom leaders are passionate to use their leadership to serve others. This is good and right – an admirable motivation. Yet, many struggle to ask for help from others or accept the help from others. They are used to providing help and find it difficult to ask for themselves the help they need. Perhaps it’s our ego or just habit that we don’t ask for ourselves. Regardless of why we don’t ask for help, this was not so with Jesus!

What help do you need now to accomplish the mission God has called you to? Have you asked the Lord for His help? Have you asked others for their help also? It’s not ‘either-or’ but ‘both-and’ for your requests. Is your pride preventing you from asking others to help you? Have others offered their help but you are reluctant to accept it? Why? Perhaps the Lord is moving them to come to your aid?

Ask and you will receive!

We Left All

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” Luke 18:28 NIV

A very wealthy man had just walked away from Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. He went away sad for he was very wealthy. Jesus lamented about how difficult it is for those with much to enter the Kingdom of God. This comment stirred Peter’s response. “We have left everything…” he said.

Note that Jesus did not correct Peter’s statement about having left everything, for they certainly had. For the previous two years the Twelve had left their professions to be trained as apostles who would carry the leadership of the movement Jesus started. They had left family, friends, spouses (at least we know Peter was married), physical security, and all that was familiar to their previous lifestyle to be His disciples. Yes, they had left all.

But contrast this with what Jesus instructs them about provision on the evening of the Last Supper. In Luke 22:35-36 we read, “Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Wait! What? Why would Jesus affirm “leaving all” in one context and now He instructs them to get your ‘stuff’ together and go well provisioned?

With the rich young ruler it was not a matter of how much ‘stuff’ he had. Rather it was his heart’s attitude about his ‘stuff.’ His wealth has a central position in his heart and Jesus pointed this out by challenging him to leave it all and follow Him. The Twelve had previously demonstrated that Jesus was central in their hearts (Judas being the exception). Thus, they were instructed to gather, not divest. It was a heart issue, not a materials issue.

As Kingdom leaders we must continually self-examine our heart’s relationship to our ‘stuff.’ It’s easy to fall in love with your ‘stuff’ and move Jesus from His rightful spot on the throne of our life to the margin. How’s your heart today? What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about your relationship to your ‘stuff’?

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!

Alignment – 2

A primary part of leading is aligning resources towards our agreed upon missional outcome. Because resources are limited and opportunity is seemingly unlimited, we must say ‘no’ to some things in order to align our limited resources to best opportunity to accomplish our mission. Below are some thoughts from Navigators staff, Paul Stanley on the important topic of alignment – part 2.

To illustrate alignment, let us look at it in several different contexts:

Alignment in a Team:  Alignment would mean that the members of the team are functioning as a whole. Each member would share a common vision and the individual capacities of the members would be aligned with the vision to create what the members truly desired. The members would be motivated to develop their talents so that their contribution would be greater and increase the desired results . The members would learn to work together, and the more they did alignment would increase. When alignment breaks down, the efforts of the members are partially dispersed rather that harmonized. An unaligned team is like the scattered, incoherent light of a light bulb rather than the “coherent” light of a laser.

Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline) observed that “…in an aligned team, there is commonality of purpose, a shared vision, and understanding of how to complement one another’s efforts. Individuals do not sacrifice their personal interests to the larger team vision; rather, the shared vision becomes an extension of their personal visions. In fact, alignment is the necessary condition before empowering the individual will empower the team.”

When in alignment, all four automobile tires are pointed in the exact same direction and provide a stable, consistent tide to the passengers. The tires complement one another’s’ performance. But, when the tires are not in alignment energy and rubber are lost and the ride is unstable.

Alignment in an Organization: Alignment would be achieved when the people within the organization, the ministries, the structures and systems and organizational processes are in line with the organization’s Vision, Calling and Values. Alignment would be recognized by the degree to which the organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values match the way the people who are part of the organization are living, relating, and ministering.

Gaining alignment in an organization is a leadership function. It is an ongoing task. Alignment is not to be confused with conformity, rather it is encouraging diversity but focusing and aligning it at the same time. Empowering individuals in an unaligned organization creates chaos, dissipates energy, and makes leading difficult, while the opposite is true in one that is well aligned. When we empowering part of an aligned organization we empower the whole.

Alignment is not a new concept for many leaders, but naming it helps us recognize whether we have it or not. In an unpredictable and rapidly changing environment in which we lead and minister, alignment becomes vital for keeping stability and maximizing our individual and group capacity for fulfilling our mission in a lost and struggling world.

Are you aligned?

Alignment – 1

A primary part of leading is aligning resources towards our agreed upon missional outcome. Because resources are limited and opportunity is seemingly unlimited, we must say ‘no’ to some things in order to align our limited resources to best opportunity to accomplish our mission.

Below are some thoughts from Navigators staff, Paul Stanley on the important topic of alignment.

“Building a visionary company requires 1% vision and 99% alignment. When you have superb alignment, a visitor could drop in from outer space  and infer your vision from the operations and activities of the company without ever reading ii on paper or meeting a single senior executive. Creating alignment may be your most important work. “ [from “Building Your Company’s Vision,” by James Collins and Jerry Porras, Harvard Business Review (Sept-Oct 1996)]

Alignment is not a new word in English, but its usage is new in the world of leadership and organization. Normally, “alignment” is used in the military to “bring a formation of soldiers in line” or to line up exactly behind one another. It has a second common usage with those who work with automobile engines to bring the pistons up and down movement into “alignment” with the electrical spark, so they would work together. … be in harmony with one another.

Alignment means that all elements of a whole are lined up with the same point.

When a group, team or organization is in alignment, the result or benefit is that the efforts of the parts are in line with or moving in the same direction or focused on the same goal. The point around which all the parts align themselves must be clear, and in the case of people, must be compelling.

Unity enhances alignment but differs slightly in that alignment focuses on an external point of reference and is active and dynamic. One can have unity while at the same time not be aligned. Unity in diversity is a blessing, but focused diversity (alignment) is strategic.

Next week we’ll look at how to practically bring alignment into our leadership context.

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