Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “calling”

Focus for Impact

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”  Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demon.  Mark 1:35–39   NIV  1984

Jesus had some early recruits in the two sets of brothers who were fishing partners in Capernaum.  They had been with him off and on for about a year now, and life was about to take a major shift for all of them.  Jesus had recruited them to leave the fishing business in order to become vocational ‘religious’ workers – leaders in training.  They had enlisted, leaving family and friends behind, for what would turn out to be a two-year training assignment and a new life-long vocation.

Having just ended an inspirational evening the night before, they discover Jesus alone outside of town spending time in prayer and communion with His Father.  They assume that He will want to continue the wonderful experience of healing and miracles that occurred the night before, so they remind Him that, “everyone is looking for you.”  They assume that He would want to return to Peter and Andrew’s home and heal those who were gathering there.

But, Jesus responded with a risk-taking statement, “Let’s go to the nearby villages…that is why I have come.”  It was a risk to disappoint the expectations of his new recruits.  What if they insisted on Him coming back to help?  There was pressure on Jesus to conform to the wishes of His team and the needs of the masses.  But, Jesus boldly and confidently said ‘no.’

It was His mission – task – purpose that brought clarity to the decision that now had to be made.  He was focused on that purpose – the ‘why’ of His ministry.  Thus, while it may seem difficult, it was not really.  Clarity of purpose – mission made the decision an obvious one.  He must go to the surrounding villages to tell them the Good News of the Kingdom and not be consumed with the needs in Capernaum only.

Clarity of purpose and maintaining that focus is essential for leadership success.  Many a leader has started out well, having a clear vision for what they want to accomplish, but then in the midst of the ‘daily whiteout’ they forget why they are so busy.  Consumed by the immediate needs, they succumb to reactive leadership instead of maintaining their strategic intent.

Don’t fall into this trap.  Stay focused!  Stay strategic!  Don’t substitute busyness for strategic intent!

God’s Purposes

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.                       Psalm 138:8   NIV  1984

After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ …  “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.
Acts 13:22, 36   NIV  1984

David wrote Psalm 138 and testified that the Lord would fulfill His purpose for him.  By faith, David testified that the Lord would do for him what He had promised.  He was certain of it.

One thousand years later Paul testifies about David’s life in a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch on his first missionary journey.  He says that God found David to be a man after God’s own heart who would do whatever God asked of him.  And David did just that.  And when that purpose for his generation was completed, David fell asleep – he died.

Our God is a missional God who works.  Jesus reminds us that the Father is always at work and that He too is working (see John 5:17).  Because we are created in His image, we too are to have a missional mindset.

What is our purpose for which the Lord has made us?  What is it that He wants to accomplish in and through us?  Find that purpose and you will find satisfaction and peace.

Yes, there is the overarching purpose of knowing Him and bringing glory to Him (see John 17:3; Isaiah 43:7).  But there is also a personal purpose (mission, task) for which the Lord created you and redeemed you, asking you to accomplish this during your generation.

Ask Him to show you what that destiny is and then give yourself to it with your whole heart.  You were made for it!

Your purpose…. your destiny ….  your task…  your mission – do you know it and are you following Him into its fulfillment?

A Leader’s Job Description

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…       Romans 1:1  ( NIV 1984)

In the opening passage of Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome he describes himself and his job (role, contribution).  This concise description can provide all Kingdom leaders with a template for our contribution as well.

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus…”  The word means “one owned by another” (bond slave, doulos) and describes a person in relationship to a master.  It is the same word used to describe Jesus in Philippians 2:7, “…taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Being a servant is a leader’s identity, not their activity.  This identity does not change, regardless of whether or not our role, title, or responsibility changes.  All who are followers of Jesus find our identity as servants of Him who bought and paid for us with His own blood on the cross.  Sometimes we have the privilege of expressing that servant identity in leading others.  But at other times, we may express that same servant identity by following someone else as they lead us.

Paul continues his own description, “…called to be an apostle…”  The word means “one who is sent out; a messenger sent with a message to deliver”  Here Paul begins to put a sharper point on his own personal job as he works out the specifics of his servant leadership.  He was to be an apostle to the Gentiles (the nations; the non-Jews).  This explanation was given at his conversion on the road to Damascus and was further clarified in a meeting with leadership in Jerusalem some years later (see Galatians 2).

Paul’s function was to be a pioneering messenger to the Gentiles, planting the good seed of the gospel among peoples (Gentiles) who did not have a Jewish background.   He laid foundations that others would come afterwards and build upon (see 1 Corinthians 3).  He knew his role and his personal function in light of the bigger goal of advancing the Kingdom and discipling the nations for Christ.

So too for any Kingdom leader; we must be very clear on our personal function that we bring.  It is a function that we, and only we, can and must do.  It’s more than just ‘lead.’  But, rather, what part of the overall leadership function do you do?  That’s strategic leadership at it’s best.

Are you clear on your identity and your strategic leadership activity?  What is it that you and only you can and must do, today, as you lead?

 

 

 

The Leader’s Sense of Destiny

A Kingdom leader’s personal sense of purpose and destiny serve to guide their leadership choices and decisions.  It informs the selection of their team members, their leadership priorities, and personal development.  Where does this sense of purpose and destiny come from?

Resting in God and His Promises

The Lord Jesus invites all those who are weary and burdened to take up the yoke that He offers.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Not only do wise Kingdom leaders yoke themselves with Jesus, but they find confidence to rise above the daily circumstances by resting in His promises for them personally and their leadership.  Those personal promises form the basis for their sense of destiny and purpose.  Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me…”  God’s power and character stand behind His promises, thus a Kingdom leader’s confidence.   Regarding David, Paul reminds us, “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep…”

Purpose and Destiny Revealed

The Lord will guide and direct the Kingdom leader as they seek to follow His purposes.  The Lord will use the Word (Psalm 119:105), the inner voice of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 30:21), and open doors of opportunity (Isaiah 43:18-19; Revelation 3:8).  And who the Lord calls He also equips to accomplish His purposes.

So as we begin a new year and you reflect upon the coming months, how is your sense of purpose and divine destiny?  Are you yoked with Him and in step with Him?  Are you praying over His promises and listening carefully to the voice of the Spirit within you?  What doors of opportunity has He opened for you to trust Him to help you through?

The Cost of Following Jesus

When I was first around The Navigators, the vision of changing the world one person at a time took root in my heart.  Dana and I followed Him by leaving a promising career in equine medicine for the privilege of serving Him as full-time Navigator staff.  As I drove away from the clinic that last day, there was a great joy in my heart with little sense of sacrifice.

That calling eventually led to Indonesia with our three small children.  Five years of waiting for a visa and language study left us sitting in Singapore wondering if we would ever enter the country of our calling.  We did finally enter, but to lead an undergrad student ministry.  We never got to east Java, the role we have waited five years for.  Again the Lord’s faithfulness was evident as we thrived in a fruitful student ministry.

Ten plus years later led to an application for Indonesian citizenship.  But again our plans failed and we landed back in the U.S. with no clear future.  Months of waiting and trusting led to a move to Colorado Springs to join the Collegiate leadership team.  Three more years and I was leading the collegiate work with Dana.  Who would have imagined?

Transitioning the collegiate work led to a decade of coaching leaders in Europe and Dana serving with Nav20s.  Leader development contributions followed and finally a role these past three years as a Field Director for the Nations and serving on the NLT.  Not a clear career path for sure.

With each transition, move, and new responsibilities came new challenges and fears to be faced by faith and trust in His promises.  He has shown Himself faithful with each transition and surprised us with His wonderful goodness.  No amount of planning could account for the amazing journey Dana and I have found ourselves on.  There is no real sense of sacrifice, for His goodness far outweighs anything we have been asked to leave behind.

It continues as He has promised – to give back one-hundred times all that we may leave in serving Him (Mark 10:29-30).  May you too see the Lord’s faithfulness as you follow Him along the unique journey He has for you.

Living for the World to Come

What the world needs today is a generation of believers who have as their motto, “No reserves!  No retreats!  No regrets!”  What is needed is a fresh wave of committed men and women who cry out, “Anything!  Anywhere!  Anytime!  for Christ!” 

It will take people who will pay the price to stand against the tide of this world and choose to live for the world to come.  It will take disciples of Christ!

The world today is looking for authenticity in those who call themselves followers of Jesus.  The great crisis facing the world is a spiritual crisis.  The world needs Christ.  But it will only have the opportunity to respond if believers live lives focused on eternity instead of the temporal.

The Chinese character for ‘crisis’ is made up of two other characters meaning ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity.’  The spiritual crisis in the world today does indeed have dangerous implications.  Untold millions live quietly desperate lives, looking for answers everywhere except to the One who can help.

But this time in history is also a prime opportunity.  Never in history have so many been so desperate for answers to life’s seemingly impossible problems.  Believers know the One who can solve life’s problems.  Will they seek to know Christ in an ever-deepening way?  Will they seek to make Him known on an every broadening horizon?

The highest good in the Christian life is not serving Christ full-time. God’s best for any individual is discovering His plan for your life and then doing it with your whole heart!  Some will be called to full-time ministry, but many will serve Him as lay men and women bringing His love into their respective spheres of influence.  Whether full-time or laity, we are to give our all to and for Christ.

Teddy Roosevelt said many years ago,  “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Will you decide to live for Christ?

Will you choose to live for the world to come?

Living a Life of Faith #2

Faith is not trusting the seen but believing the unseen.  It is not looking at circumstances and probabilities, but to Him who knows no limits to resources and power.  Abraham demonstrated this when at the age of 75 he was told that he and Sarah would have a son from whom the world would be blessed.  For twenty-five years Abraham walked with the promise of God while his body aged.

Finally, at the age of 100 Isaac was born.  Paul writes in Romans 12:18-21, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

God knows our tendency to shrink back when facing the unknown and unseen.  He thus gives us promises, promises backed by His character and resources, that we can cling to as anchors for our souls in times of trials.  These Scriptural promises are the bedrock of our faith that keeps us believing when hope is gone.

Here is what A.W. Tozer said concerning walking by faith: “We must remember that God always acts like Himself.  He has never at any time anywhere in the vast universe acted otherwise than in character with His infinite perfections.  This knowledge should be a warning to the enemies of God, and it cannot but be an immense consolation to His friends.

“Though God dwells in the center of eternal mystery, there need be no uncertainty about how He will act in any situation covered by His promises.  These promises are infallible predictions.  God will always do what He has promised to do when His conditions are met.  And His warnings are no less predictive:  “The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5).

“In the light of all this how vain is the effort to have faith by straining to believe the promises in the Holy Scriptures.  A promise is only as good as the one who made it, but it is as good, and from this knowledge springs our assurance.  By cultivating the knowledge of God we at the same time cultivate our faith.  Yet while so doing we look not at our faith but at Christ, its author and finisher.  Thus the gaze of the soul is not in, but out and up to God.  So the health of the soul is secured.”  [i]

J.O. Sanders said, “God encourages us to ask as freely for the impossible as the possible, since to Him all difficulties are the same size–less than Himself.”  Trust Him!  Trust His promises!!

“Great faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future.  It’s simply taking God at His word and taking the next step.”   Joni Eareckson Tada

[i]   The Incredible Christian  by A.W. Tozer,  Tyndale House Publishing, Wheaton, Illinois  1964   p. 28

 

 

 

Living a Disciplined Life #1

The disciple of Jesus will find that following Him requires a life of discipline and focus.  Discipline does not mean drudgery, but it does mean saying “no” to good things in order that we might give ourselves to the best.  It is the choice between the good, better, and best that requires a will of steel.  We must focus on the goal for which we are called and dedicate ourselves to reaching that goal.

E. Stanley Jones, the great missionary-statesman to India, said, “Your capacity to say ‘no’ determines your capacity to say ‘yes’ to greater things.”  St. Augustine prayed three things for himself, “A heart of flame towards God, a heart of love towards men, and a heart of steel towards myself.”

If we are to follow hard after Christ; if we are to be used by Christ, we must prepare ourselves.  This preparation and training can be rigorous and stressful.  No champion athlete wins without rigorous training, and no champion for Christ will make an impact without paying the price of preparation.  It will mean disciplining our desires and bringing our bodies under control.  It will mean long hours of time alone with God and His Word.  The disciplined life will say to self, “Others may, I cannot.”  It will sense a destiny that requires the best we have to give.

Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God’s will as a young man, and God impressed upon his heart that his life would be spent for China.  “From that moment life was unified in one great purpose and prayer.  For Hudson Taylor was ‘not disobedient to the heavenly vision,’ and to him obedience to the will of God was a very practical matter.

“At once he began to prepare, as well as he could, for a life that would call for physical endurance.  He took more exercise in the open air, exchanged his feather bed for a hard mattress and was watchful not to be self-indulgent at table.  Instead of going to church twice on Sunday, he gave up the evening to visiting in the poorest parts of town, distributing tracts and holding cottage meetings.  In crowded lodging-house kitchens he became a welcome figure, and even on the race course his bright face and kindly words opened the way for many a straight message.  All this led to more Bible study and prayer, for he soon found that there is One and One alone who can make us ‘fishers of men.’ [i]

[i]  Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret  by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press  Chicago, Illinois   p. 22-26

Living a Life of Sacrifice #2

C.T. Studd came from a wealthy English family and was a 21 year-old student at Cambridge University when he trusted Christ as his personal Savior.  Studd was an outstanding athlete, with a possible career in professional sports, in addition to being a good student.  After his conversion, he dedicated his life and wealth to Christ.

He and six other Cambridge students offered themselves to Hudson Taylor’s China Inland Mission in 1885.  Nine years later he returned to England with a wife, but broken in health.  After recuperating, he gave away his home to the mission and traveled throughout America for two years recruiting young men and women to give themselves to missions.  In 1900 the family moved to India for six years when once again they had to return to England.  In 1910 he left his family in England to pioneer a new mission into the heart of Africa.  This ministry eventually became Worldwide Evangelization Crusade (WEC) which continues to this day.

Studd personally had a ministry on four continents and through those he touched, the entire world.  But this adventure began with a decision to deny fame and fortune in this world in order that he might follow Christ.

Jim Elliott was martyred by Latin American Indians as a young man.  While a Wheaton College student he dedicated his life to following Christ, whatever the cost.  The cry of his life was this, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose.”

May the Lord raise up a new generation of men and women who have the spirit of Studd and Elliott!  May it begin with me!

 

Living a Life of Sacrifice #1

Sacrifice means, “to give something up for the sake of something of higher value.”  Sacrificial living is to give up our own lives for the purpose of following Christ.  Jesus modeled the perfect sacrificial life by giving His very life for the sins of mankind.  It is this type of lifestyle, one that chooses to live for others instead of self, that models real love for people (John 15:12-14).

Sacrificial living is a daily decision, not a one time event.  Paul urges us to, “….offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1).”  We are to continually offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices as an act of worship to God for all He has done for us.  He died for us!  Living for Him is the least we can do!

Jesus reminds us that being His disciple means, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  To follow Christ means that we must first deny ourselves.  That is, give up all rights to our own plans, desires, dreams, and hopes for our lives and let God determine our future.  It is an abandonment of self into the loving hands of God.  Secondly, we must take up our cross daily.  To the first century audience, the picture of a person carrying a cross meant that they were condemned to death by the Roman government.  They had no future–only death.  Jesus uses this picture to illustrate that this death to self is to be daily, not just a one time decision.  Each and every day we must choose to live for Christ and not self.

Sacrificial living goes against the wisdom of this world.  The world says to seek self-gratification.  “If it feels good do it!”  The implication being, if it doesn’t feel good, then it should not be acted upon.  To choose to deny self in order to gain the opportunity to serve God is something that will be hard for others to understand.

Sacrifice is painful!  It cost God’s Son His life!  There are no guarantees we will live a pain-free life.  God does not apologize for asking much of His followers.  It is His right.  He owns us.  He bought us with His own blood.  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

But God also promises us that whatever cost we are asked to pay in denying self and following Him He will repay multiple times over.  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).

Therefore, whatever has been sacrificed for Christ, when compared with what has been gained in return, will not seem to be too great a cost to pay.

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