Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

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

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

Making Wise Personnel Decisions -1

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?, What’s best for the person / their family?, What’s the best timing for this decision?, What are the short-term and long-term implications for both the person and the mission?, etc.  It may seem like you never have all the information you want or need when you have to make the final decision.

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

Keys for hiring the right people 

  1. Know, believe and be convinced that the Lord will provide all the resources you need to accomplish all that He is asking you to do – including any personnel needs that you may have.
  2. Have a clearly defined role – job description that you are seeking to fill.  Even for entry level positions it will help in recruiting if you have a well-thought through job description (in writing) that you can show to potential candidates with details of their responsibilities and opportunities / benefits.
  3. For Kingdom leaders, our recruiting must include the candidate’s personal calling and the  alignment of their calling to our ministry – mission.  Because of the nature of Kingdom work and the sacrifices asked (i.e. a pay scale often not commensurate with marketplace pay), we want to recruit and hire those who the Lord is calling to join us. This is not just a job that people are being asked to do.  Rather, it is a God-given mission and we are asking people to ‘leave their nets’ and join us in its fulfillment.  It will cost them much to engage with us, but Jesus promises to provide for those who serve Him.  Mark 10:29-30
  4. If they join us just to meet a need, because of the adventure of mission, to co-labor with their friends or some other reason than being called by God, they will soon find reasons to doubt their acceptance of the role.  The costs they will be asked to pay or future challenging and difficult experiences (failures) they may experience will quickly lead to second-guessing their decision to join with us.  This coupled with the enemy sowing seeds of doubt in their hearts and minds will lead them to quit.
  5. Having a clear sense of God’s calling will help us persevere in the difficult times, knowing that the Lord has led us here and He will never forsake us or abandon us.  Rather, He will strengthen us and see us through as we take refuge in Him.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10  ESV

Calling in an Expert

And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the LORD said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the LORD has promised good to Israel.” But he said to him, “I will not go. I will depart to my own land and to my kindred.” And he said, “Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. And if you do go with us, whatever good the LORD will do to us, the same will we do to you.”     Numbers 10:29-32  ESV

Israel had been in the Sinai for two years since the Exodus and now the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle and they were to begin their pilgrimage.  The Lord had told them that this journey would last for 40 years – until the generation that did not believe and obey His promises had died.

It’s interesting that though the Lord was guiding Israel with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, Moses still sought the help and advice of a local expert who knew the environment.  The cloud would give them the general direction to move, but the large number of people had to choose a place to camp.  It was in this selection of a camping spot that Moses sought the help of a local expert – Hobab – for he knew ‘where we should camp in the wilderness.’

Kingdom leaders are certainly led by God through the Holy Spirit in their decisions, just as Moses and Israel were led by the Lord in their desert journey.  But a wise leader knows that there are situations when the counsel and help of an expert can be of great assistance.

Moses recruited Hobab to join with them in the journey.  He promised him reward for his service – the same reward that all would share together.  It seems that Hobab was a brother-in-law to Moses who he had come to know and trust during his forty years of working for Jethro (also known as Reuel – see Exodus 2:18).  Though Moses had forty years of desert experience, he recognized that Hobab knew much more about desert living than he and thus the request for help.

Wise Kingdom leaders know when to ask for outside expertise for supporting their leadership.  This takes humility and teachability to acknowledge we do not have all the answers.  Ask for help when you need it!

Age and Contribution

“Take a census of the sons of Gershon also, by their fathers’ houses and by their clans. From thirty years old up to fifty years old, you shall list them, all who can come to do duty, to do service in the tent of meeting. …  All the service of the sons of the Gershonites shall be at the command of Aaron and his sons, in all that they are to carry and in all that they have to do. And you shall assign to their charge all that they are to carry.”   Numbers 4:23-24; 27  ESV

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”   Number 8:23-26  ESV

The Lord set age boundaries when serving.  During the forty years in the desert after the Exodus, those who carried the parts of the Tabernacle we to be from 30 to 50 years of age.  Physical strength was necessary and maturity to handle these pieces carefully were requirements and thus, thirty years old was the minimum age allowed.  The rest of the Levites who were to serve in the Tabernacle, could begin as early as 25 years of age.

Whether serving in the Tabernacle or carrying it through the desert, both tasks were age limited to 50 years old.  Upon reaching that age, Levites were to “withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more.”  The older Levites moved from direct ministry in the Tabernacle to an indirect role of serving others by ‘keeping guard.’

It would seem that a pattern of ministry is that direct ministry is primarily a young person’s responsibility.  But with increasing age and experience, older servants move into more indirect roles, thus making room for younger leaders to emerge.  Note that the older Levites did not ‘retire,’ they just assumed less intense ministry roles.

These guidelines for Levitical service in the Tabernacle should cause us to pause and think carefully about our own ministry contributions and those whom we lead.  Are you thinking about your succession plan?  Are you looking to transition into a more indirect role of service?

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.    Lamentations 3:27  ESV

Kingdom Leaders are Recruiters

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.    Mark 1:16-20 ESV

Jesus was regularly extending invitations to others to join with Him in His mission.  Some, like the two sets of brothers, said ‘yes,’ but others refused (see Mark 10:21-22).  He did not coerce, beg, or cajole.  He simply invited them to come with Him and engage in the greatest enterprise the world has ever known.

As Kingdom leaders we too are constantly inviting others to join with us in our God-given mission.  It main mean we ask them to ‘lay down their nets’ and join us vocationally.  It may also mean that we ask them to invest their money in our work.  It will most certainly mean that we recruit their intercession for us when they pray, bringing us before the throne of grace and fighting with us against our unseen foe.

Dr. Bobby Clinton says this about recruiting, “Effective leaders view leadership selection and development as a priority function in their ministry.  As they recruit they will be drawn to those who have embryonic qualities and traits like their own. They see in their recruits their own potential of years before. Here is [John] Maxwell’s context around the quote.

“Effective leaders are always on the lookout for good people. I think each of us carries around a mental list of what kind of people we would like to have in our organization.  Now, what will determine whether the people you want are the people you get, whether they will possess the qualities you desire? You may be surprised by the answer. Believe it or not, who you get is not determined by what you want. It’s determined by who you are.  In most situations, you draw people to you who possess the same qualities you do. That’s the Law of Magnetism: Who you are is who you attract.”

“So we as leaders have even more reason to work on our ‘beingness.’ Recruitment depends on our ‘beingness.’ Don’t forget, ministry flows out of being-even the ongoing business of challenging others into the battle.”

Don’t shrink back or be bashful about inviting others to join you in the greatest adventure the world has ever known!  Remember, “Like attracts like!”

Leaders and Interpersonal Communication

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.   Matthew 12:33-35  ESV

Kingdom leaders are constantly communicating to those they lead and influence.  Developing the skill of interpersonal communication should be high on our ‘to do list.’  Here’s some practical ideas to that end.

  1. Remember:  We speak at a volume of 2, but are heard at a volume of 9!
  2. We are always communicating something. Even not communicating communicates something! Non-verbal communication is always happening.
  3. Think before you speak! Act; don’t react! You can’t take back something once it has been said… the effect will inevitably remain. A Russian proverb says, “Once a word goes out of your mouth, you can never swallow it again.”  Watch those text messages!!!!!
  4. No form of communication is simple. Even simple communication is complicated by many variables. Words do not have inherent meaning; we simply use them in certain ways… no two people use the same word exactly alike. Don’t assume that just because you told them they now understand!
  5. Communication does not happen in isolation. There are many contextual factors: psychological, relational, situational, environmental and cultural… all influence communications significantly.  Adjust your communication style to fit your audience!

 Tips for Understanding Non-verbal Communication

  1. Recognize that people communicate on many levels… facial expressions, eye contact, body posture, voice level, hand and feet movements, use of space/distance, body movements and placement, culture and appearance as they walk toward you.
  2. If a person’s words say one thing and their non-verbal message says another, you will tend to listen more to the non-verbal message … that is the correct decision.
  3. Non-verbal communication can provide up to 85% of the meaning of any conversation. Pay particular attention when doing interviews.
  4. Probe non-verbal communication during a conversation in which you need facts and believable statements. Again, the non-verbal may reveal more than the person’s spoken words.
  5. When leading a meeting or speaking to a group, recognize that non-verbal cues can tell you:        when you have talked long enough; when someone else wants to speak; and the mood of the group and their reaction to your remarks.

Becoming a skilled interpersonal communicator is a developmental goal for Kingdom leaders.  Start today!

Fire Casts No Shadow

 

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.   Hebrews 12:28-29  ESV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17  ESV

It’s amazing that a pure flame will not cast a shadow unless it is contaminated with soot or smoke.  Because the living God is pure and holy, there is no shadow of change within Him.  His purity is immutable and this reality brings great security and hope for all Kingdom people. The holiness of God and His unchanging character cause us to fall at His feet and worship Him with reverence and awe!

Kingdom leaders are His ambassadors who also reflect the light of God that shines into the darkness John 1:4-5 (ESV) says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  As His agents we too must strive to reflect the purity of God in our thoughts and deeds.

Paul describes his pursuit of this goal in Acts 24:16 (NIV) – “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” He was concerned about his conscience before God first, but also with regards to what others may think or even accuse him of.  Again when discussing his handling of a monetary gift for the poor, he says, “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)  Note the two-fold aspect of his actions – doing what is right before God first, but also seeking to be above reproach before others.

In 1 Timothy 3:2 (ESV) we read that one of the qualifications for the selection of Kingdom leaders: “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach…” That is, they are not to have anything in their lives that can cast as shadow or disparage the King or the Kingdom. They are to be pure and holy for they represent a Holy God.

May we too pursue this same goal in our lives and leadership – seeking to be above reproach; seeking to please both God and people, for He is worthy!

 

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