Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

A Clear Conscience

So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. Acts 24:16 ESV

Within each of us God has placed an inner voice, a conscience, to help us differentiate right and wrong.  Our consciences have been dulled by our sin, but under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit they still can be useful tools.  If our conscience condemns us we are to confess our wrong, make restitution if necessary, and seek to live in obedience to Christ.

A clear conscience is a great blessing.  When we trust Christ our consciences are cleansed and as we live in obedience to Him our conscience remains clear.  Having a clear conscience relieves stress and frees us from fear of exposure or accusation by others.  It is the leadership quality of being above reproach (see Titus 1:5-7). Keep short accounts with God–clear your conscience quickly and you will experience continued joy and peace.

  • A good conscience is one free from guilt.  What is said in the following passages about a good conscience? — 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Timothy 1:5,18-19
  • A guilty conscience is one where there is a sense of unconfessed or unforgiven wrong doing.  What do the following passages say about a guilty conscience? — Romans 2:12-16; Romans 13:3-5

Question to ponder:  Does having a clear conscience always mean we are free from wrong?

Passages for further reflection: 1 Corinthians 10:23-33; Hebrews 9:14

The Other Side of the Door

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 ESV

Illness, injury, aging, and death are all enemies of our physical bodies.  But this will not always be so.  For believers, there is the hope of the resurrection from the dead when we will be given new bodies that are free from these enemies.  We will all have heavenly, eternal bodies that do not age, weaken, or die.

The fact of the resurrection of the dead is the great hope for followers of Jesus.  Jesus’ resurrection was the demonstration to us that our hope is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).  Death is no longer a terminus, but rather a junction – a doorway to a new life with a new, perfect body.  What a wonderful reality awaits us on the other side of the door!

  • Jesus rose from the dead as proof that what He promised us will come to pass.  What do the following passages say about Christ’s resurrection? — John 20:24-31; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
  • Just as Jesus rose from the dead with a new, eternal body, so will His followers.   What is said in the following passages about the resurrection? — John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:35-44; 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Question to ponder:  How does the reality of death and the hope of the resurrection impact your daily life and leadership?

Passages for further reflection: John 5:24-26; John 6:38-40

It is Finished!

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 ESV

Jesus’ last words from the cross were, “It is finished.”  What was finished?  Certainly there was more to done, wasn’t there?  There were thousands who had not yet heard.  There were thousands more who needed healing.  How could He say His job was complete?

Jesus’ completed task was actually two-fold.  He was first to train a small group of leaders to carry on His ministry after He left to return to the Father.  They would go on to reach the unreached after He was gone.  In His prayer the night before the crucifixion He says that He has completed this task (see John 17:4).  The second aspect of His mission was to redeem mankind from sin, taking upon Himself the punishment for sin that we deserve.  He accomplished this with His sacrificial death on our behalf.

  • Jesus preached to thousands, healed many and trained twelve disciples to carry on His work after He was gone.  What do the following verses say about His ministry to the Twelve? — Mark 3:14-19; Mark 4:33-34
  • Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin and set us free.  What do the following passages say was accomplished by Jesus’ death? — Romans 5:12-19; Hebrews 10:5-14

Question to ponder:  What does Jesus’ death and resurrection mean to you personally and how does this impact your leadership?

Passages for further reflection:  John 12:23-28; Titus 2:11-14

Touched

And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. Luke 6:19 ESV

And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. Luke 8:45-47 ESV

Can you imagine having your every waking moment with crowds of people pressing and pushing to try and touch you? It seems that one of the main functions of the Twelve was crowd control for Jesus. They seem to have gotten quite good at this, for Jesus had to correct their zeal to allow the little children to approach Him. “But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.'” Mark 10:14 ESV

Now you don’t have this exact same experience as Jesus, but Kingdom leaders do have many reaching out and trying to ‘touch’ them. Your leadership authority has the power to change the lives of those you touch. You can truly make a difference in the life of an individual or a family by the decisions you make. By hiring new staff, transitioning people into new roles and positions, and asking people/families to uproot and move all have short and long-term consequences. It should be sobering to think of the power to impact lives for good and bad as we execute our leadership responsibilities.

Perhaps you feel as though many are seeking your ‘touch,’ wanting your advice and counsel, pressing you to make some important decision, or create an exception to a policy for them. As the leader, you have the power to do good, to do what is right and bless others because of the positional authority vested in you. The careful exercise of this leadership power should cause us to remember the Golden Rule of Leadership (Luke 6:31) – Lead others the way you want to be led.

Jesus’ touch was used many times for healing. He touched those with leprosy, the blind, the sick, and even the dead. All who were touched were changed for the better. What a legacy of good!

What’s your legacy from those who you have touched through your leadership? Are you leaving a trail of blessing and good in the lives of those you touch?

With a Little Help from My Friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even Jesus needed a little help from His friends!

Leading with an Eternal Value System

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. (Luke 16:14-15 NIV)

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

Kingdom leaders live and lead from an eternal value system; one that sees money as a wonderful tool to advance the Gospel, but a terrible master that can grab our hearts. Jesus reminds us that, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facing Our Fears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living from the Inside Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How’s your ‘hypocrisy meter’ reading today?

Modeling the Life of Jesus

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV

Note the order in the above verse – first, Paul followed the example of Jesus as he sought to live and lead like Jesus. Next, he encouraged others to follow his personal example as he followed Jesus. Many, many things can be learned and internalized by imitating others.

Yes, we are all imperfect people who are all in process. None of us can claim to ‘have arrived.’ We are all patients in the same hospital, everyone checks in and no one checks out until we finish our race. Those of us who have been in the hospital longer than others can point the newcomers to the treatment rooms. But we humbly acknowledge that we still go to the same treatment rooms ourselves.

Let’s not let the fact that we are growing and moving towards maturity, with our evident shortcomings and weaknesses, mute us from intentionally modeling Jesus-like life and leadership for others. The Lord is not looking for perfect people to lead in His Kingdom. He is looking for those who acknowledge their dependency upon Him, humbly submit to His leadership in their lives and seek to apply what they learn from Him in their own lives and leadership of others.

This principle of modeling for others automatically rules out the phrase, “Do what I say, not what I do.” As has been said, “If it doesn’t work at ‘home,’ don’t export it!” As a Kingdom leader, others are continually watching your example for guidance in how to navigate their own life. They will do what you do, not what you say. If you make excuses for why the ‘rules’ don’t apply to you, they too will feel the freedom to live as they desire. Your example carries a lot of influence – hopefully for good!

Where are Kingdom leaders challenged to be examples for others? Below are several passages that relate specifically to Kingdom leaders as models and examples for others to imitate.

Hebrews 13:7 ESV – Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

1 Timothy 4:12 ESV – Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

1 Peter 5:1-3 ESV – So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

Titus 2:7-8 ESV – Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Are you aware that many others are watching your life and will copy what you do and say? This reality should be sobering and keep us close to Him as we steward the responsibilities that He has entrusted to us.

May we all say, “Follow me, as I follow Christ!”

Even Tax Collectors!

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Luke 3:12-13 NIV

All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. Luke 7:29 NIV

If there ever was a despised group of people within the first century Jewish culture it was the tax collectors. They were often grouped with the ‘sinners’ – those Jews who had abandoned their Jewish faith and were living like Gentiles. Tax collectors were servants of the Roman Empire and in Palestine, they were often Jews who enforced the tax laws of the Empire upon their fellow countrymen. In addition, they were often very corrupt and oppressed their neighbors by collecting more taxes than the law required, keeping the balance for themselves. By serving the Romans and using their position for personal enrichment they became a despised group.

In His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the tax collectors as an example. “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Matthew 5:46 NIV Here again the tax collectors serve as an extreme example – even they love those who love them back. Certainly, if tax collectors can love others, you Kingdom people are called to a higher standard – to love your enemies.

Jesus selected Matthew (Levi) as one of His Twelve, the executive leadership team for His ministry. It’s hard to underestimate how radical this was for a Jewish rabbi to associate closely with a tax collector. Note that Jesus was questioned by the Jewish leaders as to why He would socialize with “tax collectors and sinners?” “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:15-17 NIV

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. … When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-2, 5-10 NIV

I wonder who the despised, “tax collectors and sinners” are today? Who are the sick that desperately need the healing touch of the Gospel? Who are those who the religious people would question why Kingdom leaders are associating with them?

As a Kingdom leader, are you nervous about what other leaders think?

Do you have a reputation you’re trying to protect?

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