Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “character development”

Giving Thanks

This week we in the U.S. celebrate our annual Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.  President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.

This year, ‘the year of crazy,’ one might think that we have less to be thankful for when compared to previous years.  Below are some passages that help my attitude and perspective on our current 2020 state of affairs, helping me again realize that I/we have much to give thanks for.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  ESV

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!    1 Chronicles 16:34  ESV

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.    Psalm 7:17  ESV

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.    Psalm 9:1  ESV

In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.    Psalm 44:8  ESV

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.    Psalm 79:13  ESV

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.    Psalm 86:12  ESV

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!    Psalm 97:12  ESV

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!  Give thanks to him; bless his name!    Psalm 100:4  ESV

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.    Psalm 103:11-14  ESV

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!    Psalm 107:1  ESV

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.    Psalm 118:28  ESV

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever.    Psalm 136:3 ESV

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!    Psalm 145:10  ESV

… fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.    Isaiah 41:10  ESV

… a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.    Isaiah 42:3  ESV

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.    1 Corinthians 1:4  ESV

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.    Revelation 11:17  ESV

May your thanksgiving be a daily experience, and not an annual event!

From Patience to Perseverance

Initially, we thought it would last two weeks to a month.  Then it was ‘Well, certainly by the beginning of summer…’  Next it was ‘For sure, by the start of the fall…’  Now we are looking to Christmas or early spring for relief from the Covid pandemic.  Does it seem like we are playing a type of game where they keep moving the goalposts?

When will it end?  We set our expectations and hope on a future date for relief and a ‘return to normal,’ only to have our hopes dashed by the reality of a virus that seems hard to ignore or conquer.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  (Proverbs 13:12  NIV)  It’s very normal to have feelings of disappointment when our expectations are not met.  But we must guard against going from disappointment to despair where we lose all hope and just give up.

Given the long trial of faith that we all are suffering, we must shift our attitudes from one of being patient to one of persevering.  Perseverance means, “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”  We acknowledge our disappointment before the Lord, plead for His mercy and determine, by His grace and strength, to persevere until He determines the end of our trial.

Our hope is not in new policies, better disinfection or therapeutics or even a vaccine.  Rather, our hope is in Him and His strength.  Here are several biblical truths that strengthen my soul during these days.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.     Hebrews 10:36  NIV 1984

… even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.    Isaiah 46:4  ESV

For nothing will be impossible with God.    Luke 1:37  NIV 1984

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.    1 Corinthians 10:13  ESV

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.    2 Corinthians 1:8-10  ESV

… fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10  ESV

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.    Romans 5:3-5  ESV

“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

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.    James 1:2-4  ESV

But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.    Isaiah 50:7  ESV

Don’t despair!!!  Persevere!!!

John Wycliffe and the English Bible

Oxford scholar and priest, John Wycliffe, translated the Bible into English in the 14th century, decades before the invention of the printing press in Europe.  His action helped birth the modern world as we know it and earned him the title, ‘the Reformation’s Morning Star.’

“During Wycliffe’s time, England was a three-tiered literary hierarchy.  Like the rest of Europe’s elites, England’s intellectual elite spoke Latin.  The Bible was their book… Church leaders, including Wycliffe, were a part of this exclusive club.  Below them were the nobility, who spoke French or its Anglo-Norman dialect.  They had some portions of the Scriptures available to them in their declining dialect.  At the bottom of the social ladder were the illiterate peasants, who spoke primitive English.  Hardly anyone thought of enlightening them… Most of Wycliffe’s contemporaries scorned the idea that the Bible could be translated into a rustic dialect like English…

“Some people ridicule the Protestant Reformers but relish the notion of human equality.  They do not know that the Reformers paid with their lives to make the biblical idea of equality a foundational principle of the modern world.  Today, we take it for granted that uplifting the downtrodden is a noble virtue.  In Wycliffe’s England, the idea of raising peasants to the status of aristocracy was abhorrent…

“… Wycliffe was a hero who disowned his class and sided with the ‘swine,’ the underdogs.  Why?  Not because he was trying to win a democratic election.  Democracy followed in his trail.  Rather, Wycliffe was following Moses, who ‘chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.’ [Hebrews 11:25]  He followed Jesus, who preached the good news to the poor. [Luke 4:14-21]  It was neither pursuit of career nor political correctness but commitment to truth that inspired Wycliffe to begin translating the Bible into English.  The same commitment empowered people to copy by hand that banned translation at the risk of their lives.  Even reading that translation required special permission, and anyone caught with a copy could be tried for heresy and burned at the stake.” *

Don’t take your English Bible (or any translation) for granted, for many have paid a great price to put that translation into your hands.

The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization by Vishal Mangalwadi, pages 145-147

Ouch – That Hurts!

Jesus was betrayed by one of His leaders in training.  He spent three years with Judas, investing in him, training him and giving him every opportunity to contribute with the others.  Yet he took the love Christ extended and turned it into rebellion.  That must have hurt!

When we serve with or for others, sacrificing and giving our all, we assume their acceptance and support.  When we extend ourselves in the service of others we assume a gratefulness for our efforts.  It can come as a shock when our efforts are not recognized, appreciated or are overlooked as insignificant.  Ouch, that hurts!

What to do when our best efforts are ignored, unappreciated or worse, put down and dismissed by our leaders or supervisors?  How do we respond when those we trust disappoint us or show a side of themselves that we assumed and expected better from them?  How do we react when we get our feelings hurt or when our expectations of others are not met?

First, it’s time to reset our perspective and expectations of others.  There is no perfect leader.  We are all people in process.   Our leaders are imperfect people and so are we.  Don’t place unrealistic expectations on them that they cannot meet.  Most are simply doing the best they can with what they have.

Secondly, if there really is a wrong that has been done, go to them privately and explain your hurt and disappointment without casting blame.  Decide to forgive them whether they admit wrong and ask for forgiveness or not.  And when they ask for forgiveness, give it.  Beware of harboring an unforgiving spirit that can turn to a root of bitterness and defile you.  (see Hebrews 12:15)

Third, remember that the Lord has placed you in this context and under this leadership.  He will not allow anyone to frustrate His good and perfect plans for you.  Jacob was cheated by his father-in-law who changed his wages ten times!  Yet he testifies that God protected him from harm. (see Genesis 31: 7)  Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely accused of attempted rape by Potiphar’s wife and imprisoned.  Yet he testifies to his brothers that though they and others meant it for evil, God intended it for good. (Genesis 50:20)  Nothing touches us outside of God’s good and perfect will.  Rest in Him and His sovereignty in all things – those that feel good and those that don’t.

Lastly, check your attitudes and motives.  Are you serving for the reward and recognition you hope to receive?  Are you working hard in the hopes of climbing an organizational chart?  Are you serving for the praise of others or are you serving Him who never forgets your labor on His behalf?  (see Colossians 3:23-24 and Hebrews 6:10)

We all will be disappointed in our leaders and most likely, get hurt – it’s a matter of when, not if.  But it is how we respond that can make it a growth and development opportunity for us.  How are you doing on your journey and your relationship with your leadership?

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

Handling Rewards for Service

But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation.    Daniel 5:16-17  ESV

Daniel was summoned into the presence of King Belshazzar and asked to give an interpretation of the writing on the wall in the king’s banquet hall.  A hand had suddenly appeared and written an inscription which no one could understand.  Daniel had interpreted the dreams of King Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar’s father, and thus there was hope and expectation that he could help solve the puzzle.

Note that King Belshazzar offered to reward Daniel with status (purple robe – royal colors), wealth (gold chain) and position / power (become the third ruler in the kingdom of Babylon).  The great offer of reward for his service was no doubt enticing for Daniel who had been serving in the kingdom’s administration for many years by this time.  But Daniel politely refused the offer of reward for his service, telling the king to keep his robe and gold chain and give the position to another.

Daniel boldly and courageously interprets the meaning of the inscription, telling the king that he was arrogant and self-serving like his father.  “And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven…”  (Daniel 5:22-23 ESV)  He then gave the king the bad news – God was bringing judgment upon him and would take away his kingdom and divide it among others. This happened later that night as King Belshazzar was killed.  (Daniel 5:30)

Having given the king the meaning, Daniel was rewarded just as the king promised.  In receiving these rewards from the hand of the king was Daniel being duplicitous or compromising his values?  Or was he being prudent and wise in his relationship with the king?  I would suggest the latter.

It would have been foolish for Daniel to twice embarrass the king in front of this banquet guests by refusing his rewards.  He had already delivered the sad news of the king’s pending demise in front of the royal court at the banquet.  Now he humbly accepted the king’s reward having already made the point that the rewards were not his motive for service.  Note that within a day the kingship passed to another, Darius the Mede, and Daniel would once again be asked to serve a different leader and in a different position.

Rewards often come for Kingdom leaders and their service.  But do not make them your motive.  Be willing to humbly accept them for a job well-done, but don’t seek them out as a motive for serving in your God-given strengths.

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

The Desire for Recognition

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.
                   Theme Song from TV Show – Cheers

Jonathan had an idea.  “Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.”  (1 Samuel 14:6-7)  And the Lord honored their faith and zeal and delivered all of Israel a great victory that day.

Today, when we recount this story and tell of God’s greatness, we remember Jonathan, son of Saul, as the one who God used.  But we do not know the name of his armor bearer.  That man joined right along with Jonathan, risking his own life, stepping out in faith, and fighting right alongside Jonathan.  Jonathan got the recognition, his armor bearer did not.

When God punished the sin of the world by bringing a flood upon the face of the earth, He spoke to Noah about saving his family and the animals.  Over one-hundred years later God shut up Noah and his family into the ark – Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives.  Today, we recall the story of Noah and the ark, but we do not know the name of Mrs. Noah.  She too entered the ark along with her three daughters-in-law and the world was repopulated by them, but we do not know their names.

In 1 Kings 13 we have two men used of God to further his purposes during the reign of King Jeroboam – ‘the man of God from Judah’ and the ‘old prophet.’  Both were used of God during their days to speak the truth to the king, but we do not know their names.  They died and were buried together, unknown to many except God Himself.

How important is it that you are recognized – that everybody knows your name?  Many will serve God in obscurity, never being recognized for their faithful service, not seen as important or having the spotlight upon them.  But God does not forget.  He rewards those who serve Him.  There will be a time when all are recognized for their contribution and labor.  God knows your name!!!

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord , the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”  Isaiah 45:3 NIV 84

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

Casting Vision by Modeling

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.  1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)

I was recently asked, “Tom, what is a good way to develop a platform for influencing others?” I replied that a powerful means for influence is your own example and recounted this story of unknown origin that illustrates the power of modeling.

A young man sat on a bench in his train compartment opposite an older gentleman who was engaged in reading his bible.  The young man thought he recognized the older man as one of his personal heroes – a preacher who had great impact and a worldwide ministry.  Seizing the opportunity to talk with his hero, he worked up his courage, cleared his throat and asked him a question.

“Excuse me, sir, but aren’t you Mr. …?” he timidly asked.  Putting aside his bible, the older man responded affirmatively.  “Sir,” the young man continued, “I have admired your ministry for a long time and so desire to have the type of influence you have for Jesus.  Is there any advice the you would have for me to gain that influence which you now have?”

The old saint thought for a moment and then said, “Young man, I find that if you set yourself on fire, others will come and watch you burn!”

Never underestimate the power of your own example.  Point others to Christ and His Kingdom by the way you live as well as your words.  Live your personal calling in such a way as others take notice that you are one whose life backs up what you so proclaim.

Aside from the Bible, the biographies of great men and women of God have more shaped me as a Kingdom leader than any other books.  These ‘historical mentors’ have modeled a way, having blazed a trail that I seek to follow.

Yes, “Leaders are readers!” – but be careful what you read.  Saturate your life with the Scriptures and regularly read biographies of those who were used of God to change the world.  Then, others will come and follow the trail you leave behind.

Is your example worth following?

Confronting our Greatest Fear

When reflecting upon all the things in life that threaten me and induce a fear response, it seems that the final threat is the greatest – the threat of dying.  It is the ultimate threat in that it appears to be a terminus – so final and so unknown.  All of life we are working to advance the Kingdom, fulfill a personal destiny and serve others.  But with death all of this appears to end.

Jesus says to us in John 14:1-3 (ESV), “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”  When Jesus says “I will” do something, it will be done!

Death is not a terminus, rather it is a junction.  It is a transition from one form of existence to another.  We finally fulfill our ultimate destiny – seeing Jesus face-to-face and joining those who have gone this path before us.  We exchange our current reality for one much more real for the rest of eternity.

Paul reminds us of our destiny in 1 Corinthians 15:19-26 (ESV), “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

I was recently encouraged by the following poem from the great hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, titled ‘Some Day.’

Some day the silver cord will break,
And I no more as now shall sing;
But, O the joy when I shall wake
Within the presence of the King!

And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story, saved by grace:
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story, saved by grace.

Some day my earthly house will fall,
I cannot tell how soon ’twill be,
But this I know—my All in all
Has now a place with Him for me.

Or some day when my Lord will come,
And called to meet Him I’ll be blest,
He then will say to me, “Well done,”
And I shall enter into rest.

Some day, till then I’ll watch and wait,
My lamp all trimmed and burning bright,
That when my Savior I will greet,
My faith will then be changed to sight.

Until such time as the Lord calls us home, let us do the work He has asked of us, not shrinking back in fear due to present difficulties. He has given all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”   1 Corinthians 15:54-55  ESV

Responding to Fear

Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’  So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.   Acts 27:23-25  NIV

Paul and his shipmates had been driven across the Mediterranean by a storm for the past two weeks.  The crew had lost all hope of survival and all were in a state of despair.  With no sign of abatement in the tumult, out steps Paul with a word of hope for all.

The previous night an angel from the Lord had appeared to Paul and promised to see him out of this storm and on to Rome.  Paul exhorts those onboard not to lose hope, respond with courage, for he believed what God had promised.

Note that Paul takes a public stand that God would do exactly as He promised, regardless that present circumstances seemed to preclude a good outcome.  It was Paul’s faith in God’s promises that they were encouraged not to lose hope and keep up their courage.

Like Paul, faith in the promises of God can be contagious and bring hope when others have lost their own.  As Kingdom leaders we can be confident in God’s faithfulness to His promises and point others to these, boldly proclaiming that we believe that He will do exactly what He has promised to do.

For those of this world, confidence in their own ability experience or resources, is the response to fear.  But when those worldly resources are exhausted hope is lost and a sense of gloom can take over. For Kingdom people – God’s children – faith is the opposite of fear.  But our faith is based upon God, His promises and power to never leave us or forsake us in our trials.  It is founded on the reality that He never changes and has promised to never leave us. He will see us through every trial that He allows to touch us.

We must avoid the sin of presumption, for presumption acts based upon zeal or worldly wisdom, without God’s direction.  Presumption is foolishness and God will expose it.  David prayed in Psalm 19:13 (ESV), “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.”

The storms of life come upon all people (see Matthew 7:24-27).  But only one type of person stands the test – those who hear the Word of God and obey it.

May we be those people and point others to the ONE who will see us through the storm!

Acting in Faith, not Fear

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”   Luke 12:32  NIV

Jesus frequently talked to His followers about the subject of fear.  In particular, He exhorted them to not be controlled by their fears, rather respond to fear with faith in God.

Note what He says in Matthew 8:26 (NIV): He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  That is, why are you so fearful that your fear has taken control of you.  Jesus had led them into the boat, into the storm and was with them in the midst of the storm.

In Hebrews 11:7 (NIV) we read of the response of Noah as he confronted his fear. “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.”  Noah’s fear of God and His promised punishment of the world’s sin moved him to build an ark and protect his family.  It was an act of faith as it appears that to this time there had never been rain on the earth.  It was by faith that Noah acted based upon what God had promised to do.  Noah’s holy fear was a combination of fear and faith.

In Luke 12:4-7 (ESV) Jesus reminds us of this Kingdom truth regarding having a holy fear of God, “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.”  And the author of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 10:31 (ESV), “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” 

Kingdom leaders are called to respond by faith when facing  threats that cause fear.  Faith does not deny the reality of these threats, but rather, sees them in perspective of God, His promises and His power.  “Nothing is impossible for Him” (Luke 1:37).  A faith response results in courage to meet the threat and act because of the greater reality of God’s ability and faithfulness.

What is controlling you today – faith or fear?

 

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