Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “character development”

The Impact of a Godly Leader

“The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
    his word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke,
    the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
    when he rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of morning at sunrise
    on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
    that brings grass from the earth.’   2 Samuel 23:2-4

David here describes the impact of a leader who walks with God and leads in light of this reality.  Note that he testifies that it was the Spirit of the Lord who spoke through him (v. 2), thus this summary regarding the impact of godly leadership is one for our attention.

David mentions two characteristics of this type of godly leadership.  This leader ‘rules over people in righteousness.’  That is, they do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, for He alone, expressing Himself through His Word, is the true standard for which we can determine what is right or wrong.  David’s leadership became the standard for righteousness.  Note the number of passages that compare the leaders who followed David and their leadership with David and his leadership.  For example, regarding King Josiah it says, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.  In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David.”    2 Chronicles 34:2-3

The second characteristic of godly leadership is that they ‘rule in the fear of God.’  Now what does that look like?  It would seem that one who walks and leads in the fear of God is one who has a proper perspective on life and leadership.  They understand that they have arrived at a position of influence not due to their own effort as much as it is God who has provided this opportunity for them to lead.

They too know that any leadership ability they have comes from Him, their Maker.  He places leaders, He also removes them, and we all will be asked to give an account of our leadership to Him who gave it to us (see Hebrews 13:17).  Speaking about David’s life, Paul says, “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep…”    Acts 13:36

The impact of this leader is similar to the impact of sunshine and bright light upon well-watered, nutritious earth – it brings forth growth.  This fruitfulness is seen by all and God’s hand is recognized as being upon this leader.

David was not a perfect leader, yet God used Him to lead others and become a standard for which other leaders were measured.  That inspires and motivates me to strive to be the best I can be, for His glory.

How about you?

My Weaknesses – Blessing or Curse?

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.   Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.   But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.     2 Corinthians 12:7-10  (ESV)

Paul, a man used greatly of God and also a man given many advantages and special privileges (like personally seeing heaven and the glory that awaits all who believe), also had a great struggle.  He confesses that these wonderful things that he experienced could become a root of pride within his life.  Therefore, the Lord ‘gifted’ him with a ‘thorn’ that he might not become conceited.

This difficulty-weakness-handicap was something physical that limited Paul and made him depend upon the Lord for ability to accomplish his mission.  While not clear what this was (perhaps poor eyesight or partial blindness – see Galatians 4:15 and 6:11), it was burdensome enough for Paul to ask the Lord to heal him and remove the handicap from him.  Three times he asked the Lord for help and three times he was told ‘no.’

Finally Paul came to understand that this thorn was not something to be removed, but rather something to be gloried in.  It demonstrated his weakness and therefore, his total dependence upon the Lord for help.  Therefore, he says, I learned that in my weakness God’s power is manifested more clearly.

What is it that comes to your mind as an impediment to your leadership?  What physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual weakness do you wish were changed or removed in order for you to better serve His purposes?

Perhaps, like Paul’s thorn, what you see as weakness is a gift from the Lord to help you demonstrate His power in and through you.

Are you wishing it were removed from you?  Are you just tolerating it – gritting your teeth and grinding on?  Or are you boasting in your weakness, knowing that He is glorified through it and His power now more evident in you?

Modeling Humility as a Kingdom Leader

Humility is a powerful tool for influence when it emanates from the life of a leader.  Jesus was the perfect model for a leader who consistently demonstrated humility in a variety of situations.

Here’s some examples of Jesus’ choosing to humble Himself…

  1. He became a man and took the form of a servant  –  Philippians 2:5-11
  2. He submitted Himself to baptism by John the Baptist  –  Matthew 3:13-16
  3. He paid the temple tax even though a Son of the King  –  Matthew 17:24-27
  4. He submitted to the Father’s will for the cross  –  Mark 14:32-36

Humility is attractive when it’s genuine.  We can sense it in others when it is not genuine.  We can also pick up very quickly when someone is proud or simply pretending to be humble.

As the Lord will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8), leaders who do not lead with humility, but rather take credit themselves for their accomplishments, are in for a rude awakening.  The proud who don’t demonstrate humility are in for a tough lesson when the Lord finally runs out of patience and acts to humble them (see 1 Peter 5:5).

Nebuchadnezzar was one such leader who learned the lesson of humility through having God humble him.  After a long, painful process, he summarizes his journey with this pointed statement:   “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.  And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”  (Daniel 4:28-37)

We have this choice – to humble ourselves or to wait and have the Lord humble us.  Could I suggest that the former is preferable, for when God acts to humble the proud, it will be a very thorough, life-altering lesson.

What will you choose?

How to Develop Yourself at a Meeting

I was recently asked for some thoughts on how to really benefit from participating in a gathering of leaders.  Below are some practical suggestions on maximizing your growth and development from such a meeting.

  1. It’s easy just to let the meeting just happen and you take it as it comes – more reactive than pro-active.  While this may be of some benefit, it will not maximize your experience.  A little planning and forethought can be a great benefit.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take initiative with anyone while there or try to book an appointment beforehand.  You will usually find them very responsive if at all possible.  You will need to have a clear reason for wanting to spend time with them.  Express what you hope to get out of the time together.
  3. It can be easy to feel like a grasshopper in the land of giants, but that is not reality.  While a gathering of leaders will have those attending with different leadership roles, but there is no value or importance implied by those various roles.
  4. So, think ahead and do some pro-active planning.  Who would you want to spend time with?  Who would you want to learn from?  Are their strategic linkages that you want to work develop or initiate?
  5. Though you have a plan, expect that the Lord will guide you into some ‘divine appointments’ that He arranges for you.  Be anticipating that and listening to the Spirit as He directs you in your conversations.  Be slow to speak and quick to listen.
  6. Go as a learner.  Go asking questions.  It might be helpful to have several questions related to leadership that you ask repeatedly to several participants and then compare their answers.  The questions can be specific (i.e. What one lesson have you learned that has helped you most to be a strategic leader?) or more general (i.e. What advice would you give someone like me who is just beginning to lead geographically dispersed staff teams?)
  7. Don’t make any long-term commitments while there.  You may be invited to visit, send staff teams, partner, commit resources , etc. to many wonderful opportunities.  Thank them for the invitation, but tell them you will want to pray and think about this and discuss it with your leadership before making any long-term decisions.  When you return, and decompress, you will be able to make much better and wiser decisions.
  8. Debrief with someone afterwards on what you learned.

Gatherings of leaders can be very stimulating and helpful for your growth and development.  But a little forethought can truly make them life-altering.  Plan ahead!

The 24 Hours of Life

The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.                                                       Moses – Psalm 90:10,12

Some time ago I was meditating on these verses and thinking about the length of life.  It is but a mist that appears for a short time and then vanishes (see James 4:14).  To help me gain some perspective I created the chart below and review it regularly.  It helps remind me of my mortality and of the brevity of life.  It is a comparison of a seventy-year life span to a 24 hour day.

At 66 years of age (I was born in 1951) you can see that the vast majority of my life is now in the rear-view mirror.  This does not mean that life is over, for no one knows their span of years.  But whether it be seventy years, eighty years or more, we are to ‘number our days’ and make the most of them for His glory.

Reflect on these things and make the most of every opportunity.  For this life will soon be past and only what is done for Christ will last.

YEAR  AGE   TIME             YEAR   AGE   TIME

1952       1       00.20               1987      36      12.20
1953       2       00.41               1988      37      12.41
1954       3       01.02               1989      38      13.02
1955       4       01.23                1990      39      13.23
1956       5       01.43                1991      40      13.43
1957       6       02.03               1992      41      14.03
1958       7       02.24               1993      42      14.24
1959       8       02.45               1994      43      14.45
1960       9       03.05              1995      44      15.05
1961      10      03.25               1996      45      15.25

1962      11      03.46               1997      46      15.46
1963      12      04.06              1998      47      16.06
1964      13      04.27               1999      48      16.27
1965      14      04.48              2000      49      16.48
1966      15      05.09               2001      50      17.09
1967      16      05.29               2002      51      17.29
1968      17      05.50               2003      52      17.50
1969      18      06.10               2004      53      18.10
1970      19      06.31               2005      54      18.31
1971      20      06.51               2006      55      18.51

1972      21      07.12               2007      56      19.12
1973      22      07.32              2008      57      19.32
1974      23      07.53              2009      58      19.53
1975      24      08.14              2010      59      20.14
1976      25      08.35              2011      60      20.35
1977      26      08.55               2012      61      20.55
1978      27      09.15                2013      62      21.15
1979      28      09.36               2014      63      21.36
1980      29      09.57               2015      64      21.57
1981      30      10.17                2016      65      22.17

1982      31      10.38               2017      66      22.38
1983      32      10.58               2018      67      22.58
1984      33      11.19                2019      68      23.19
1985      34      11.39               2020      69      23.39
1986      35      12.00               2021      70      24.00

Curse God and Die!

Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.  His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity?  Curse God and die!”  He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman.  Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”  In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.      Job 2:8-10

Job and his wife had suffered the tragic death of their children, the destruction of their home and wealth, and now Job was afflicted with oozing sores over his entire body.  Oh, the heartache!

It seems like it all was too much for his wife.  Her anger laden invective to him was simply, “Curse God and die!”  How sad!  How depressing!  How real!

As he sat on a pile of broken pottery shards, Job scraped at his sores and reflected upon his lot in life.  Certainly it was not a journey that he would have chosen.  Certainly he would have desired that it never had happened in the first place.

But tragedy had befallen him and his house.  And now he must reason.  The inner man cries out for an answer to, “Why?”  But Job was not a typical man.  His simple statement of faith and trust was this, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

It’s easy to thank God when life goes well.  We express grateful hearts for his mercy and goodness to us.  But, what about when things are not so good?  Can we thank Him when life does not feel good or seems anything but good?  Job did.  And we can follow his example as well.

Last year we suffered with our young granddaughter as she was diagnosed with kidney cancer and then endured 8 months of chemotherapy.  There were some dark days on that part of our journey.  But God in His mercy restored her.  This April we suffered the sudden death of our first-born, Michael at the age of 40.  There continues to be a sense of great loss and missing him.

But today we say by faith – we trust Him who is the Blessed Controller.  Nothing that touches us is outside of His good and perfect will for us.  By faith we say we trust Him and all that He has done.  We do not trust our own feelings, logic, or demand that He explain Himself.  For His ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts.  (see Isaiah 55:8-9).

The Lord is our strength, our shield, and our defender.  He comforts the grieving and gives hope to the discouraged.  We trust Him!

Have the lines fallen to you in pleasant places?  Rejoice!

Have the lines fallen in difficult places?  Trust!

Dependence or Independence?

“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”      Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

In Congress  July 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…

Tomorrow is the celebration of Independence Day in America – when America’s Founding Fathers declared the 13 colonies’ independence from Great Britain.  For Americans this day reminds us of our country’s heritage and the fact that many risked and sacrificed much for the freedom that we now enjoy.

But for those who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ there is no personal independence day.  Rather we celebrate our total, moment-by-moment  dependence upon Him.  For God does not want independent children.  He wants dependent ones.

Independence is a mark of standing upon your own two feet – saying that you are capable of governing your own life without the guidance or help of others.  This type of attitude is found in the world, but not in the Kingdom.  For citizens of the Kingdom of God know that we are Created beings who draw our very breath because our Creator wills it.  We are constantly leaning into Him who made us for strength, help, protection, guidance, and provision to live each day.

Therefore, we boast in our weakness, for then the power of Christ is evident in our lives (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).  This attitude is counter-intuitive to the world’s values.  The reality of our dependence on Him causes us to celebrate for He is faithful and will never leave us.

So, how is your attitude towards Him who made you?

Your Reactions are Showing

Sometimes that click you hear under your foot really is a landmine!

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.                     Colossians 4:5-6  NIV 1984

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…    1 Peter 3:15   NIV 1984

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.    Ephesians 5:15-16   NIV 1984

How many times have you done or said something that you think immediately afterwards – Oh, no!  Ooops!   Wish I could rewind that tape!  Thinking before you speak or act is a mark of maturity and self-control.  It is a sign of Kingdom wisdom.

The authority that leaders carry by position or reputation can leave behind wreckage in the lives of many if we are not careful in how we act or speak.  While we have the right to have thoughts and opinions about all things, it is not wise to share or act upon them without first realizing the potential impact on those around us.  You will be imitated and quoted!

I’m not talking about political correctness here.  There are times when Kingdom leaders must stand for what is right and go against the cultural tide.  What I’m referring to are the unfiltered, knee-jerk responses that unintentionally wound others simply because we don’t stop to think before we act or speak.  Someone put it this way, “Your reactions are showing!”

Paul’s exhortations to us in the passages above are to, “be wise,” “be prepared,” and “be very careful” with respect to our speech and actions, especially as we relate to an unbelieving world.  We would do well to heed these reminders.

How are your recent interactions with others – family, team members, or outsiders?

Are your reactions showing?

 

 

 

It Is Well With My Soul

Horatio Spafford had known peaceful and happy days as a successful attorney in Chicago.  He was the father of four daughters, an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and a loyal friend and supporter of D. L. Moody and other evangelical leaders of his day.  Then, a series of calamities began, starting with the great Chicago fire of 1871 which wiped out the family’s extensive real estate investments.  When Mr. Moody and his music associate, Ira Sankey, left for Great Britain for an evangelistic campaign, Spafford decided to lift the spirits of his family by taking them on a vacation to Europe.  He also planned to assist in the Moody-Sankey meetings there.

In November, 1873, Spafford was detained by urgent business, but he sent his wife and four daughters as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Harve, planning to join them soon.  Halfway across the Atlantic, the ship was struck by an English vessel and sank in 12 minutes.  All four of the Spafford daughters—Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie—were among the 226 who drowned.  Mrs. Spafford was among the few who were miraculously saved.

Horatio Spafford stood hour after hour on the deck of the ship carrying him to rejoin his sorrowing wife in Cardiff, Wales.  When the ship passed the approximate place where his precious daughters had drowned, Spafford received sustaining comfort from God that enabled him to write, “When sorrows like sea billows roll … It is well with my soul.”  What a picture of our hope! [1]

Author:            Horatio G. Spafford
Composer:      Philip P. Bliss
Tune:                Ville Du Havre (Bliss)

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like the sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
‘It is well with my soul.’

Tho’ Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious tho’t!—
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
‘Even so,’ it is well with my soul.

Chorus              It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Yes…. it is well with my soul!  How is your soul state today?

[1] Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (p. 202). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

Living Peaceful and Quiet Lives

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to 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 Thes. 4:11-12   NIV 1984

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.         1 Tim. 2:1-4  NIV 1984

Paul urges us to aim to live peaceful, quiet lives that shine as beacons of godliness and holiness to an unbelieving world around us.  For this to happen, we must be prayerfully interceding for kings (political leaders) and those in authority that the Lord might grant us favor in their eyes.  For, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases (Proverbs 21:1).

It is interesting to note that in Thessalonica and Ephesus Paul had caused riots and civil upheaval.  It was for the sake of the gospel that he was in these cities and we also note that in both cases it was not Paul who instigated the disturbances.  It was the enemies of the gospel who stirred up the crowds, drawing the responses from the civil leaders.  See Acts 17:1-9 and Acts 19:23ff.

Paul did not want this type of upheaval to be perceived as ‘normal’ for those following Christ in the respective cities.  Rather, the goal, as he reminded them, was to live peaceful and quiet lives; living such counter-cultural lives that they would win the respect of those who did not yet know Christ.

Our turbulent times call for us to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).   And in the midst of this turmoil, we are to be praying for our political and civil authorities – asking that the Lord would cause them to show us kindness and favor.  The result will be the advancement of the Kingdom and the gospel in the lives of many.

Are you praying for those in authority over you?

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