Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “character development”

Sexual Purity

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ESV

Sex is a wonderful gift from God, but like many of God’s gifts, Satan tries to pervert it.   God has set a limit on the expression of this gift–no sexual intercourse outside of the marriage relationship.  Satan tempts us to seek sexual fulfillment before marriage or with someone other than our spouse.  But God says, for your greatest joy and fulfillment, wait until you are married and don’t violate your marriage vows.  Sex intimacy is to be with one partner for one life!

Sexual sin can be in our minds in the form of lust as well as the physical act.  We are commanded to flee from sexual immorality.  When the imagination does battle with the will our imagination is always the winner.  We must run from sexual temptation–avoid it!

  • Lust is sexual immorality of the mind.  What do the following passages say about lust? — Matthew 5:27-30; 1 John 2:15-17
  • Sexual purity is God’s design for His followers.  What is stated in the following passages about living a sexually pure life? — Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

Question to ponder:  What can you do to flee from sexual immorality in your life and leadership?

Passages for further reflection: Galatians 5:16-21; Colossians 3:5

Safe and Secure

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 ESV

Security is not found in the absence of danger, but in the presence of the Lord.  Once we have trusted Christ and become a member of God’s family, He promises never to leave us or forsake us.  Nothing will separate us from Him; we are safe and secure in His care.

Jesus promises to be with us forever.  Though we still encounter trials and difficulties, He will be with us in the midst of them and see us through.  We need not fear that He will forsake or abandon us.  He will be faithful to us, even if we are unfaithful.  What amazing love!

  • God will never leave us!  What do the following passages say about God’s commitment to us? — Matthew 28:20; John 10:27-30
  • One person plus God is a majority!  What do the following passages say about the security we have in the presence of God? — Romans 8:31; Hebrews 13:5-6

Question to ponder:  How does the fact of Christ’s presence with you always effect your daily attitude and activities?

Passages for further reflection: Proverbs 3:23-26; 2 Timothy 2:11-13

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

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?

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?

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?

Leadership Comparison

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them… When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:20-22 NIV

It’s post-resurrection on a beach of the Sea of Galilee. Seven of the Twelve have spent the night fishing with no results. Jesus appears on the beach and encourages them to once more let down their nets. The resulting catch was so astounding that they even counted the results – 153 large fish! Now, having finished their haul and eaten breakfast with Jesus, He gets some personal time with Peter and John. They take a walk down the beach and Jesus discusses with Peter about his mission for the future.

Three times Jesus questions Peter about his love and commitment. No doubt you have heard of the change of language in the word use of ‘love’ from the first two ‘agape’ questions to the final ‘phileo’ one. Peter acknowledges his love for Jesus and Jesus responds with an action that demonstrates his confession – feed the people of God – His sheep. Having denied the Lord three times on the night before the crucifixion, he now is charged three times with this responsibility for continued engagement. Peter receives this commissioning and then asks a question, “What about him?”

The “him” refers to John who had followed them down the beach. Peter had received his mission and even been told by the Lord how it would end. Now Peter’s attention drifts to his friend following close behind them. “What’s going to happen to him?” he asks.

Jesus quickly draws Peter back to the main point – his own journey, not John’s. With a mild rebuke, He tells Peter to essentially focus on your own life and let me deal with John’s journey. John’s life and ministry would be very different from that of Peter’s, so no need for comparison between the two.

Kingdom leaders can begin to compare notes with each other regarding our respective callings, ministries, outcomes and/or life journeys the Lord has taken us on. What may have come from simple curiosity can quickly move to competition or envy. “Why didn’t I get that opportunity?” Why did the Lord do this with me and that with them?” “Why did the Lord treat them that way and me differently?” Note that all of these questions begin with “why,” assuming that we are owed an explanation from the Lord to justify His actions. Since we seem to be treated differently, the Lord should explain Himself so that it makes sense to us and seems ‘fair.’

Comparison does not end well. Focus on faithfulness to your mission and let the Lord deal with others according to His unique plan for them. Run hard to the tape, keeping your eyes fixed on Him!

Leadership Envy

The disciples of John the Baptist saw a problem.  Many of those involved in John’s ministry were now leaving him and going to be with Jesus.  Note their concern as expressed to John, “They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan–the one you testified about–look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (John 3:26 NIV)

With the decreasing crowd size, John could have been intimidated or discouraged with Jesus’ growing ministry, if he found his identity in his ministry and its ‘success’ measured in numbers.  But his response showed clearly that his identity was anchored in being the Lord’s servant and in doing His will regardless of ministry results – many or few.  John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. … He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:27, 30 ESV)

Kingdom leadership envy, jealousy, comparison – feeling better than or less than others, competitive spirit, or bitterness because of another’s ministry success can all emerge if we are not settled in our own calling, contribution, identity, and gifting.   When others (especially peers) seem to ‘succeed’ while we languish or struggle, these feelings can emerge, take root in our hearts, and ruin us.  It is for the Lord’s glory that we labor, not our own!

Below are some reminders on the topic that can be of help in keeping the right perspective.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”  (Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.  For who sees anything different in you?  What do you have that you did not receive?  If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?  (1 Corinthians 4:6-7 ESV)

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  (Matthew 25:14-15 ESV)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  (Romans 12:3 NIV)

Is there someone you are ‘secretly’ in competition with?  Is there someone you are comparing yourself to?  Are you envious of another’s success?

Repent!!!

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