Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

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

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?

Prayer Life of a Kingdom Leader

It would seem that one of the most challenging spiritual disciplines for Kingdom leaders to build consistency in is prayer.  Often our prayers are more perfunctory in nature, similar to saying grace before a meal, but without much unction or personal depth and lacking strategic intent.

We are reminded in Ecclesiastes 5:2 (ESV), “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”  Though we may pray with words, God is listening to our hearts.

In Luke 18:1 (NIV), Luke interprets the meaning of the parable of the persistent widow going before the judge, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  Jesus knows it is hard for us to persevere in prayer when answers are a long time coming.  Therefore, we are encouraged to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking until we receive, find and the door finally opens (see Luke 11:9-10).

Here are three foci for the prayer life of a Kingdom leader:

Pray for Yourself

  • Personal Growth and Change – Christlike character, Wisdom – Galatians 5:22-23; James 1:5
  • Personal Promises – 2 Corinthians 1:20; Acts 13:46-47
  • Personal Needs and Desires of Your Heart   –  Philippians 4:19; Psalm 37:4

Pray for Others

  • Family members –  Matthew 10:34-39; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30
  • Those we lead
    • Their Spiritual Growth and Change – Christlike character, Wisdom
    • Lordship of Christ in all areas of life as they follow Him
    • Vision for Disciplemaking and Spiritual Generations – that they may see the harvest
    • Their Personal Needs and Desires
  • Lost friends and acquaintances

Pray for the World-wide Harvest and Laborers

  • Current Laborers (disciplemakers) in the harvest –  Matthew 9:35-38
  • New Laborers (disciplemakers) for the harvest – Isaiah 6:8
  • Surrender of yourself and your willingness to volunteer for engagement in the harvest
  • Strategic prayer for unreached peoples – that they will have the Gospel –  Isaiah 49:6; Psalm 2:8
    • Joshua Project
    • Population of the world‎: ‎7.75 Billion
    • People Groups of the world‎: ‎17,441
    • Unreached Groups‎: ‎7,414
    • % Unreached Groups‎: 42.‎5%
    • People in Unreached:  3.23 Billion
    • People in Unreached:  41.6%

This is not a prayer time, but rather, the prayer life of a Kingdom leader!  Prayer is a moment-by-moment connection and communication with the living God.  It is learning to cultivate that connection as we go throughout our busy days.  Yes, we will have focused concentrated prayer times, but we want to establish a prayer lifestyle, learning to pray continuously as we go about our days.

This is not saying prayers, but rather, praying – pouring out our hearts to God!  “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  Romans 8:26  ESV

So, how’s your prayer life?

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?

 

Kingdom Mobility

Jesus grew up in a small town in Galilee, the son of a carpenter who learned the trade from his father.  No doubt he was expected to stay there and follow the pattern of many who had gone before Him.  But when He began His public ministry at the age of 30, He adapted a new lifestyle, one that modeled mobility for the sake of the Kingdom.

He left Nazareth to be baptized by John the Baptist along the Jordan River.  Immediately afterwards He spent 40 days in the desert in prayer and fasting and was tempted by the devil to abandon His earthly mission.  During the next year of His ministry, the ‘small-town boy’ ministered in and around the big city of Jerusalem in the province of Judea, making short trips through Samaria to Capernaum and engaging in a wedding in Cana.

Somewhere near the beginning of the second year of His ministry, Jesus permanently moved from His hometown of Nazareth to Capernaum.  “Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali…”  (Matthew 4:12-13 ESV)  It was from Capernaum that He would now live and minister for the remainder of His ministry.  He did return to His hometown briefly, but it did not go well.  Many questioned the legitimacy of His ministry and refused to place their faith in Him.  (see Mark 6:1-6)  Capernaum would now be referred to as His “home.” (see Mark 2:1)  For the remaining two and a half years, Jesus would make multiple trips with His disciples throughout Galilee, Judea, Samaria, Phoenicia, Decapolis and Perea, returning to Capernaum in between trips.

Jesus modeled mobility as He carried out the mission for which He had come.  And we who would follow Him are also called to a similar lifestyle.  Now it is not sin to locate in one town or city for an extended period.  But the question to answer is this, “If Jesus asks me to move, am I willing to go wherever He directs?”  Be very careful if you find yourself saying, “I’ll go anywhere, Lord, except …”  Kingdom mobility involves both attitude and action.

Mobility is implicit for His disciples as we read what we ‘leave’ for His sake in Mark 10:29-30 (ESV) – “Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”  (italics added)

Is Jesus asking you to move?  If so, you should start to pack!

Leading from an Overflow

Kingdom leaders must have a personal depth in their relationship with the Lord Jesus from which they are able to lead and serve others. It is this abiding relationship, being attached to Jesus the vine, that allows us to lead in ways that honor Him.  Jesus said in John 15:5 (ESV), “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.” 

I primary way that we can build our relationship with Jesus is through meeting Him in His Word.  Regular, daily input from the Bible will allow us to sink our roots deeply into Him.  It is not an academic exercise that we pursue as we read and study His Word.  Rather, we desire to pursue the author of the Word, seeing our time in the Scriptures as a means to an end, not an end in itself.

One of my favorite means of Bible intake is simply reading the Bible.  I’ve found that it profoundly impacts my life and leadership as I take in larger portions of His Word through reading, asking the Holy Spirit to give me understanding and application from what I read. 

Some years ago I developed a Bible reading plan for reading the entire New Testament through in a month.  Not speed reading, nor stopping to cross-reference thoughts or do individual word studies.  Simply reading the text, letting it enter my mind, heart and soul as I read and seek understanding and application from it.  Below is a New Testament reading plan that in 30 minutes a day will allow you to read the entire New Testament in a month.  Should I miss a day in my reading, I’m not bound by some legalism to try and read twice as much the next day.  For my goal is not the amount I read, but meeting with the Author of the book. 

  NT Reading Program

 One-Month Reading Plan

   30 Minutes a Day

DAY

READ

1

Matthew 1-8

2

Matthew 9-15

3

Matthew 16-22

4

Matthew 23-28

5

Mark 1-6

6

Mark 7-12

7

Mark 13 – Luke 2

8

Luke 3-7

9

Luke 8-12

10

Luke 13-19

11

Luke 20-24

12

John 1-7

13

John 8-13

14

John 14-21

15

Acts 1-7

16

Acts 8-13

17

Acts 14-20

18

Acts 21-28

19

Romans 1-8

20

Romans 9-16

21

1 Corinthians 1-11

22

1 Corinthians 12 – 2 Cor. 7

23

2 Corinthians 8 – Galatians

24

Ephesians – Philippians

25

Colossians – 2 Thessalonians

26

1 Timothy – Philemon

27

Hebrews 1-11

28

Hebrews 12 – 1 Peter

29

2 Peter – Jude

30

Revelation 1-11

31

Revelation 12-22

“Leaders are readers.”   J.O. Sanders 

 

A Kingdom Leader’s Perspective

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.   Ecclesiastes 7:14 NIV

When times are good, we tend to be focused on the immediate and what is seen.  We are enjoying life and on ‘cruise control’ in our leadership.  We make our plans and execute them with vigor.  We testify that God is with us and point to our results as evidence of His blessing.  Our prayer life is full of thanksgiving and praise for the good that we are experiencing.

But then something happens.  Life and ministry turn difficult.  We face unforeseen challenges and difficulties.  Our well-proven plans don’t work the way they used to.  We compare previous outcomes with our current ones and see a downward trend line.  “Is there sin in the camp?” we ask.  It must be something we are doing wrong.  We must not be working hard enough.  And so, we double our efforts and trust that we will turn the trend line towards the positive.  But still nothing seems to change. How discouraging.

Why would God allow such a thing?  Paul had times of great fruitfulness and times of difficulty in his ministry.  Here’s his perspective in 2 Corinthians 1:7-11 (NIV) on why he faced the hard times.  “And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

So, when the times are bad, the Lord is creating an opportunity for us to run to Him in prayer, trusting that He will deliver us from our current trial.  With these turbulent days greatly impacting all of us, one question arises.  “How’s your prayer life?”

So… How’s your prayer life?

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.

Making Wise Personnel Decisions – 2

For Kingdom leaders, personnel decisions can be the most time-consuming and challenging of all the decisions you make.  The complexity of these decisions is due to the many considerations involved:  What’s best for the strategic mission? or What’s best for the person / their family?

Below are some guiding principles and ideas on how to make wise personnel placement decisions.

Staffing Change / Placement / Move decisions 

  1. Kingdom leaders lead in the midst of a tension.  At times we have competing values between a staff person’s needs and desires vs the mission’s (God-given task) needs and desires.  We do value both the individual staff person and an awareness of our stewardship of the mission God has asked us to carry out.  In staffing and placement decisions these tensions can be very real and seem unsolvable so that both are addressed.
  2. A guiding principle to help us in this dilemma would be – we want to have a bias towards the person and their needs (not necessarily their desires), knowing that the Lord will provide all the resources needed to accomplish anything He asks us to do.
  3. We must acknowledge that in some situations it may be more strategic to stay a longer time in one location, rather than move.  Role changes and physical moves are made in light of fulfilling our strategic mission.
  4. When making staffing decisions, there are some issues that we must be very considerate about – personal health needs, children’s development and education, extended family concerns (i.e. caring for aging parents), financial budgets (city budgets vs rural budgets), personal ‘fit’ for the new assignment, etc.
  5. But, while we do consider the above, we must not shrink back from asking for sacrifice or going against one’s personal desires.  Sacrifice is the lifestyle of a follower of Jesus and certainly a part of laboring for Him.  In Mark 10:29-30 the Lord speaks of reward for those who leave behind (sacrifice) family relationships, homes and vocations (fields) for His sake and the gospel.  We are all called to labor for Christ, not ‘vacation’ for Christ!
  6. If one is asked to make a strategic job change or physical move for the sake of contributing to the advancement of the gospel and helping fulfill our God-given mission, there may be reasons for not accepting the invitation.  These reasons must be more than, “I just don’t want to move or do this.”  Or, “I don’t sense that this is best.”  Just as the reason for suggesting the change should be more than, “You’ve been there a long time and need a new challenge.”
  7. If there are sound reasons for saying ‘no’ and we decide to withdraw an invitation, we must not hesitate to return and make a different ask at some time in the future.  We will want to discern if it truly was a wrong ‘fit’ issue or just a personal desire not to change or move.  World-changing mission will require sacrifice, change and mobility to advance the gospel among the lost.

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”    Luke 18:29-30  ESV

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.    Romans 12:1  ESV

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