Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “character development”

Divided Loyalty

“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.” 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 16:13-15 NIV

Jesus very pointedly addresses a core issue for the Pharisees. Note that Jesus points out their heart issue – they loved money. The accumulation of personal wealth was a high value for them. No doubt there were some who questioned this value, perhaps among the Pharisees themselves. But they justified their choices and behavior, making excuses and giving reasons that on the surface sounded plausible.

This value and behavior had become commonplace among the Pharisees, for Luke notes that they as a group all loved money. This love of money was seen by others around them, but they had become blinded to this conflict of interest. For Jesus points out that their root issue was not one of behavior or lifestyle, but rather one of the heart. They had become lovers of money instead of lovers of God.

Jesus rebukes their acceptance of loving money by saying that no one can serve two Masters. You cannot have a divided loyalty. Loving God and serving Him is not compatible with loving money and serving the accumulation of wealth.

Few Kingdom leaders wake up one day and decide to love money instead of loving God. Rather, it is a slow shift in values and heart direction, incrementally drawing us away from our first love. Little choices made daily over a long time frame gradually allows new values to replace old. We compare our choices and lifestyles with others, focusing only on those that support our own values while ignoring those who live sacrificial, self-denying lives. We justify ourselves saying, “Well, not need to get too radical here.”

Our hearts speak through our value-driven choices and resulting behaviors. What are you modeling for those you lead and for the lost world that is looking for authentic faith? How’s your heart? What do you really love in this life? Or should we say, “Who do you love?”

Deferring to Others – A Sign of Humility

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11 ESV

Have you noticed a difference in how you are treated by others now that you are a recognized leader in the Kingdom? Before accepting this calling you got little attention from others when attending an event. But now that you have this title or role, others want your attention and usher you to special seats at certain events. It’s easy to assume that you are somehow more important and your ego will crave this type of special attention.

Note that Jesus observed the banquet attendees clamoring for seats of honor. His parable addressed this attitude of self-promotion and self-aggrandizement. His summary was not to diminish the honor that came with certain seats, but rather, it was how you attained that honor. If you sought the honor, you were disqualified. Better to defer that honor to another and then receive it back later.

It’s right that you as a leader be given certain prominence in meetings but be careful about your heart. If you expect to be treated as special, you will have a rude awakening when you are no longer the leader and not given special treatment, for that now goes to your successor. If you continue to pursue this attention or if you think you deserve it (“I sacrificed for them, thus they owe me”), be careful, for you may be publicly embarrassed when others take your place.

Better to defer to others, letting them have the honor due them for their current role, not expecting anything for your previous service. God knows your sacrificial service and He will reward. Then, should you be asked into a place of honor, watch out! Your ego can convince you that, “Well, it’s about time someone noticed me! I’m an important person you know!” It can be so subtle!

Be wise and be circumspect, especially in public gatherings. Defer places of honor and special treatment to others. Never be self-seeking or self-promoting!

Fearful?

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:4-7 ESV

Kingdom leaders will often have access to a lot of information that those they lead do not. Because of our strategic role, we have to be looking forward to the horizon and seeking to discern what’s coming that will impact our mission sooner or later? This forward look for potential threats can lead to a reactive, fear-based leadership rather than a proactive, faith-based leadership.

In the passage above Jesus reminds us (His friends) that it is a matter of perspective that can help us deal with our fears. His reminder is that physical death is not something to fear, for after one dies there is nothing more that can be done to us. For believers in Christ, death is a promotion! Rather, we should fear God for He is the one who holds our eternal destiny, not our current temporal existence that ends with our last breath.

And then Jesus brings perspective. He contrasts the fate of a small bird sold for a very cheap price to our own fate. Those seemingly insignificant small birds are not forgotten by God. Neither will we be forgotten by Him, for we are much more valuable than birds! We are so valuable and He is so intimately acquainted with us that He regularly counts the number of hairs on our head!

What fears are you seeing on your leadership horizon that keep you awake at night? What fears are distracting you from your focus on Christ and His promises? What threats are you aware of that cause your neck muscles to tense, your stomach to churn, and your blood pressure to rise?

The reality of the Lordship of Jesus Christ is the answer to all our fears. He is the Alpha and Omega. He reigns over all of His creation. Nothing is too hard for Him. Submit your fears to Him and lead out in faith, not fear!

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34 ESV

What’s Your Speaking Fee?

Kingdom leaders are often given invitations to teach and preach the Word of God to others. This is a humbling and sobering responsibility. “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God…” 1 Peter 4:11 NIV

There may come invitations to speak to groups outside of your normal ministry audience. How do you process those invitations? How do you respond to the question about speaking fees? Below are some guidelines that have helped me over the years regarding speaking invitations.

  1. Receive the invitation graciously and with thankfulness. Respond promptly so the event planner knows if they need to keep looking for another speaker.
  2. If you already have another commitment, say ‘no’ graciously and if desired, suggest another speaker for the event.
  3. Never accept or reject an invitation to minister the Word of God to others based upon the size of the audience or the amount of the honorarium.
  4. If choosing between different invitations on the same dates, select based upon most alignment with your personal mission statement.
  5. When asked whether you have a ‘speaking fee’ here is how I respond.
    • “I would hope that you will be able to pay for my travel expenses (flights, rental car, personal car mileage, meals, lodging).”
    • “Beyond these expenses I don’t charge a fee to speaking. Whatever your event budget allows is fine. All honorariums are gratefully accepted.”
  6. Because I don’t make a living from my speaking ministry, all income from this is ‘extra’ income. Our donor base generously supports our personal ministry and should I accept additional speaking engagements outside of our regular ministry responsibilities, any income generated is extra.
  7. Should you be making a living from your speaking and writing (i.e. you are an author and are invited to speak re your book contents), then it seems a speaking fee could be appropriate. Just be sure that the amount charged for speaking is appropriate for the audience. Religious non-profits don’t have the same budgets as corporate enterprises.
  8. Entrust your provision and reward to the Lord. He will provide for you and your family whether you have a ‘speaking fee’ or not.

Remember the lesson from the leadership of Nehemiah who entrusted himself to the Lord –

But the earlier governors–those preceding me–placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. … I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people. Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people. Nehemiah 5:15, 18-19 NIV

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

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

A Heart for People

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 ESV

What was the purpose in Jesus’ coming?  Jesus Himself summed it up by saying that He, “came to seek and to save the lost.”  People without a personal relationship with Jesus are lost—separated from God.  In another place He refers to them as sheep without a shepherd. Jesus came seeking those people that they might be reconciled once again to God.  He still seeks the lost today.

Jesus has committed to His followers the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).  As Christ’s ambassadors, we seek to persuade men and women to put their trust in Him that they may be reconciled back to God.  Our passion is Christ and His passion is people.  As we grow in our heart for God we will also grow in His passion for people.

  • God deeply cares for the lost.  What do the three parables in Luke 15 reveal about God’s heart for the lost? —  Luke 15:1-7; Luke 15:8-10; Luke 15:11-32
  • We can grow in our own heart for the lost.  What is said in the following passages about growing in our heart for people?  —  Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Peter 1:5-9

Questions to ponder:  What are your passions in life? Is one of them a passion to see people reconciled back to God? Why or why not?

Passages for further study: Psalm 51:10; Romans 8:5-11

The Cost of Discipleship

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 NIV

Salvation is a free gift, but following Christ will cost everything!  We begin by giving up our rights (deny self).  We give up the right to determine our own future and let Jesus determine it for us.  We give up the right to a comfortable, peaceful, self-determined life and give Jesus the right to use and place us as He sees best for furthering His purposes.

He not only calls us to deny ourselves, but to die to self (take up our cross) daily.  Each day and every moment of each day we must choose to live for Jesus instead of self.  Each day we strive to please Him and not people.  Following and obeying Him is our passion.  We live for Him and Him alone, playing our life to an audience of One — seeking to end our lives by hearing Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

  • What does Jesus say in the following passages it will cost to follow Him? — Matthew 8:18-22; Luke 14:25-33
  • What do the following verses say is involved in dying to self? — John 12:24-26; Romans 12:1-2

Question to ponder:  What is keeping you from unreservedly and wholeheartedly following Jesus?

Passages for further study: Mark 10:28-31; Philippians 3:7-11

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