Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Accepting Honor Graciously

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember Lot’s Wife!

Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. Luke 17:32-33 ESV

You may remember the story of Lot’s family who lived in Sodom until God’s judgment came in the presence to two angels sent to destroy the city. Lot welcomed them into his home and then was told that he and his family must flee the city before the angels could bring their destruction. “And as they brought them out, one said, ‘Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.'” Genesis 19:17 ESV

Finally, the family is ushered out of the city and then God brings fire and brimstone raining down on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Having been delivered from the immediate destruction of Sodom, Lot’s family leaves behind all but what they can personally carry. But Lot’s wife, for whatever reason, stops her flight and looks back to see what she has left and dies. “And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:25-26 ESV

Jesus validates the story and uses her disobedience as an object lesson for the coming days of final judgment when He returns. Don’t look back, look forward when you see His glorious arrival. For what is coming is much more that what we have left behind.

It can be easy to dwell upon the past. Perhaps we made some leadership mistakes that we regret. Perhaps we wish we could undo some past decisions or actions that now have bad unintended consequences. Yes, we can learn from our failures and hopefully we do. But don’t stop and dwell on the past. Look at what’s in front of you! God has a future for you and those you are leading. He can take those past failures and turn them into a future with hope and even more fruitfulness.

Someone has said that it’s difficult to drive by looking in the rear view mirror! Stop focusing on your past! Trust God for a new beginning. Look forward, not backward!

Remember Lot’s wife!

Growing in Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coming Alongside Another Leader – 2

For many leaders, the presence of a wiser, more experienced leader who can come alongside and help them not only survive but thrive in their current labors for Christ is immensely helpful. 

So who would function well in this alongsider type role?  From my experience, those who are fruitful in this type of role have several characteristics.  First and foremost, they are mature in their walk with the Lord.  Being old in the Lord does not necessarily mean that we are mature in the Lord.  There are many who are older who are not mature.  And there are many younger in age who are wise and mature beyond their experience. 

A second essential for those who would serve as an ‘alongsider’ is that they must know their Bibles well.  They must have saturated their lives with the Scriptures to such an extent that they can illustrate the ways of God seen throughout the Word, not just quote one or two of their favorite texts. 

A third quality of a fruitful alongsider is that they are excellent listeners.  They would rather here one word from those they serve than ‘pontificate’ 1000 words of their own.  They show a genuine interest in the lives and well-being of those they help, having a holistic interest in all areas of their lives, not just the spiritual components. 

The final quality needed for serving well as an ‘alongsider’ is that of demonstrated self-control.  Note how Jesus introduces the above passage concerning the functions of the Holy Spirit.  In John 16:12 NLT He says, “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.”  Jesus had to hold back some of the things He desired to tell the disciples because they were not ready to receive it.  Jesus demonstrated great self-control in what, how, and when He shared with those He discipled and trained.  We would do well to follow His example. 

For those given the opportunity to come alongside others, helping them not just survive, but truly thrive in their season of life and in their labors for Christ, it is a great privilege.  May we not take this privilege as a ‘right’ to be demanded or expected, but a privilege to be received with humility and grace as we point others to Jesus and His Word.  He is the answer! 

Coming Alongside Another Leader – 1

For many leaders, the presence of a wiser, more experienced leader who can come alongside and help them not only survive but thrive in their current labors for Christ is immensely helpful.  What does an ‘alongsider’ do and who best qualifies to serve in this capacity?

In John 16 Jesus describes the role and function of the Holy Spirit – the Paraclete – who would come alongside of believers after Jesus was gone.  He says in John 16:13-15 (NIV):  “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” [italics added]  These three alongsider functions of the Spirit can help those of us who seek to come alongside others to mentor, coach, equip, and help them.

The first function Jesus mentions is that of ‘guiding.’  The Spirit guides believers to truth.  In our post-modern world, those we help desperately need to be able to discern truth from error, fact from fiction.  They must be reminded of our second Core Value – The truth and sufficiency of the Scriptures for the whole of life.  The Bible is sufficient for equipping us to labor for a life-time!  We will want to not only help them understand the Word, but also help them apply it to their lives. 

The second function Jesus mentions is one of ‘speaking.’  But note that this is not just any speaking.  It is speaking only what the Spirit hears from Jesus.  As we mentor and equip others we want to be very careful to speak what the Word says, pointing them to the authority of the Scriptures for our laboring in life and practice.  It can be tempting to add our own thoughts to the simplicity and clarity of the Word, especially with an eager listener.  James reminds us that those who teach others will be held to a higher standard – both by men and God when He evaluates our service (James 3:1; Hebrews 13:7).  This sobering reminder should give us pause before we add our own thoughts. 

Having said this, one strength of having experience and maturity in the Lord is that we can illustrate from our own lives and ministries how the Lord helped us or others when we are in similar circumstances.  Just be careful how much you ‘share’ for the Spirit is very capable of communicating all that Jesus says with or without our help!  Be slow to speak and quick to listen! 

The third function of the Spirit Jesus mentions is that of ‘glorifying.’  We see that He specifically glorifies Jesus and not Himself.  This is so very important that we also point others to the reality that Jesus will never leave them, always be faithful to them, and give them all they need to accomplish all He desires in and through them.  Jesus IS the answer!

Proper Speech

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24 ESV

As followers of Christ we are His representatives.  Those around us are observing our lives to see what difference Christ makes.  One of the main things that people observe about us is our speech.  They watch what we talk about and how we say it.

Disciples of Jesus are to exercise self-control in speech.  We are to speak truthfully and sensitively.  We are to use our words to encourage, comfort, and edify others, carefully avoiding judgmental statements and slanderous remarks.  Once someone is hurt by our words it is difficult to restore the damage (see Proverbs 18:19).

  • Controlling our tongue is a constant struggle.  What is said about proper speech in the following passages? — Ephesians 5:3-4; 1 Timothy 4:12; James 3:1-12
  • The overall tone of a believer’s speech should be positive–encouraging, comforting, and edifying.  What can you observe about positive speech in the following passages? —  Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Question to ponder:  How do you know what is improper speech for a believer?

Passages for further study: 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Colossians 4:5-6

Giving Back to GOD

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. Proverbs 3:9-10 ESV

Giving is a privilege, not a burden; it is an act of joy and not duty.  We give because God first gave to us.  Because God owns everything in this world, He entrusts part of it to each of us to manage.  He still retains ownership, but we are expected to be good stewards of all He owns (Matthew 25:14-30).

Though some believers have the gift of giving (Romans 12:6-8), all are expected to give.  We are to give back to God a percentage of what He has given us.  Believers in the New Testament are given freedom to determine the exact amount we give depending on our faith.

  • In the Old Testament believers were instructed to give specific amounts to God.  But in the New Testament we are free to determine the amount we give.  What is said about giving in the following passages? — 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
  • There are more needs than we can meet, so deciding who to give to can be a challenge.  What do the following passages say about the object of our giving? — Galatians 6:6; James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:16-18

Question to ponder:  Why does God expect you to give?

Passages for further study: Psalm 50:9-12; 1 Corinthians 16:2

GOD Is Good!

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:7 ESV

There are two profound questions in life that beg to be answered:  “Is God there?” and, if He is, “Is God good?”  The Bible answers an emphatic, “Yes” to both.  God is good!  He delights in doing good things for His children.  He can be trusted, for He does not disappoint those who rely on Him.

Many have grown cynical about the goodness of God.  Authority figures in life (parents, teachers, political leaders, etc.) have all done things that shock and hurt us.  They have not been faithful to the trust we placed in them. We recoil and vow inwardly never to trust another.  It’s just too painful!  But, God is not like these others.  He is good.  He can be trusted!  He will not disappoint us.

  • How does the Bible answer the question, “Is God good?” — Psalm 34:8; Psalm 119:68
  • How do the following passages answer the question, “Does God always do good?” — Matthew 7:7-11; Romans 8:28

Questions to ponder:  If God is good and sovereign, why do bad things happen to us?

Passages for further study: Matthew 19:17; Romans 12:2

It’s Not the Great Suggestion!

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.  Matthew 28:18-20  ESV

This passage has been called the Great Commission, not the Great Suggestion!  It is a command given to all followers of Jesus Christ.  It is “great” because it is the culmination of all Jesus taught and because of the scope of the commission – the whole world.

Disciples (followers) of Jesus are to make other disciples as they go through life.  These new disciples are to be baptized (publicly identify with Jesus) and taught to obey the whole Word of God.  Then, they too are to go and do the same, eventually reaching all the nations (peoples) of the earth.  With each succeeding generation, the Great Commission stands as a fresh, new challenge.

  • God has always had the whole world on His heart.  What do the following passages say about God’s heart for the world? — Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 49:6
  • After the resurrection, Jesus repeated this commission several times in various forms.  What else did Jesus say in the following verses when He reminded the disciples of His world vision? — Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:4-8

Question to ponder:  How are you personally involved in helping to fulfill the Great Commission?

Passages for further study:  John 3:16-17; Revelation 7:9-10

Becoming a High-Yield Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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