Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “character development”

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?

Kingdom Hierarchy

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.   1 Thes. 5:12-13  NIV 1984

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.       Hebrews 13:17   NIV 1984

The Apostle Paul and the author of Hebrews both recognized the leadership hierarchy and corresponding authority in the Kingdom.  Whether is was a local assembly (Ephesus) or a scattering of believers (Hebrews audience) there were leaders in place who were tasked with shepherding the flocks entrusted to their care.

The Ephesians are instructed to be sure to treat their leadership with respect and hold them in highest regard in love.  The final note to live at peace with each other assumes that we will not always agree with our leadership and their decisions.  Whether we agree or not, we are still to respect and hold in highest regard those over us in the Lord.

The audience of the Hebrews letter got an even more pointed exhortation.  They were told to obey their leaders and submit to their authority.  Note the assumption that to disobey or rebel against spiritual leadership (see v. 7) could be a common mistake.  The reason for submitting to and obeying spiritual leadership is that it is for our own advantage.  If their leadership of us is a joy rather than a burden, the resulting actions and decisions will be to bless rather than burden us.  Would you rather be led with a carrot or a stick?

We are to honor and hold in highest regard our spiritual leaders “because of their work.”  Kingdom leadership is voluntary and those who serve in these roles do so out of obedience to Christ’s personal calling.  It only takes a short time after accepting any leadership role before the realities and responsibilities of the job outnumber any preconceived advantages.  Leadership is hard work!

So, how’s your attitude toward your spiritual leaders?  Are you submitting to their authority?  Are you treating them with respect?  Are you holding them in high regard because of their work?

Contented or Confounded?

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

                               Philippians 4:12-13   (NIV 1984)

Paul had discovered a secret.  Perhaps he had not been looking for it, but he did discover it and recognized the value of what he had found.  The great discovery was the answer to the question, “How can one find contentment in this world?”

That fact that Paul says it is a secret implies that the answer to the question is not obvious to many.  It must be found or discovered.  Paul’s need for contentment was revealed through his personal experience of having bounty at times and want at other times.  In both circumstances, plenty and need, Paul saw that he was not content.  Just as there is no satisfaction in accumulation of this world’s material goods, neither is their spiritual maturity in poverty.

Paul discovered that the answer to being content, no matter his circumstances, was to be found in Christ.  Only Jesus Himself could fill whatever contentment was lacking in his life.  It was through the strength of Christ in him, the hope of glory, that Paul was to finally discover lasting contentment.

Note too that Paul had to learn this contentment, it would seem to be a process, not an event.  It was not a natural outcome of his spiritual growth, but rather a secret that he discovered along the way to maturity.  He could do all things through Christ!

So, how’s your journey towards contentment?  Is there a lie you are believing that if you had a change in economic status (usually meaning that we have more, not less) that you would suddenly discover contentment?

Contentment is found in Christ alone.  He will meet your needs for contentment, for you can to everything through Him.

Discrimination and the Kingdom

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.           Acts 2:42-46     NIV 1984

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.   Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”  This proposal pleased the whole group.        Acts 6:1-5a   NIV 1984

Bias is simply personal preference.  Prejudice is a prejudgment of a person or group.  Today it is often negative or critical, and is usually based upon stereotypes.  Prejudice is a strong bias or an opinion formed before encountering the facts.  If ones prejudice manifests itself in actions, it becomes discrimination.

You’ll note that the apostles encountered a situation among their community of regular discrimination.  The Greek speaking Jewish widows (now converts to Christ) were not being given their daily portion of food.  They were ‘overlooked’ by the Hebrew speaking Jewish believers who were responsible for the daily food distribution from the common ‘pot.’  This was not an oversight – ‘were being’ implies a continual action – day after day – intentional neglect.  This was pure discrimination!

Note that this happened in a community of believers who were sitting under the teaching of the apostles and experiencing many wonders and miraculous signs.  But even this amazing environment was not enough to overcome their long-held prejudice and enmity between Jew and Gentile.  Something else was needed to bring about the Kingdom change where all would be treated equitably.

Leadership (the Twelve) got involved in bringing about a needed correction.  They instructed the community to select seven men ‘full of the Spirit and wisdom’ to manage this daily distribution of food.  And note that the seven who were nominated and then finally approved by the Twelve, were all Greeks (at least they all had Greek names).  With these seven in charge the problem was solved.

Discrimination due to race, class, or culture is not of the Kingdom.  When Kingdom leaders encounter it, they must act to correct it.

As you think about your leadership, is there any sign of discrimination that needs your engagement?

Prejudice and the Kingdom

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”  Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.  Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”  “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”  Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”                            John 1:43-49   (NIV 1984)

You’ll note from the above passage Nathanael’s response when Phillip says, “We have found the one..”  Nathanael’s prejudice is verbalized in his reply, “Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?”  In other words, those Nazarenes are not worth much in my opinion – especially considering that you are asking me, Phillip, to believe that the Messiah is from Nazareth!

Prejudice is a prejudgment of a person or group, usually based upon stereotypes.  It is a strong bias or an opinion formed before encountering the facts.  If ones prejudice manifests itself in actions it becomes discrimination.

Nathanael expresses his prejudice against the Nazarenes and is then confronted by a choice.  Phillip simply says to him, “Come and see.”  Fortunately, Nathanael does not allow his prejudice to overcome him.  He’s willing to investigate this one whom Phillip is so excited about.

When meeting Jesus face to face, Nathanael is told by Jesus that He saw him under the fig tree when Phillip invited him.  Immediately Nathanael’s prejudice is changed as he responds, ” Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

All of us have our own prejudices, some being more obvious than others.  If these prejudices are negative or critical towards others what hope is there for lasting change?  For Kingdom citizens we have the hope of a personal encounter with Jesus.

Just as Nathanael had his prejudice removed when he personally met Jesus, we too can have our own prejudices removed and permanently transformed.  There is hope for those of the Kingdom and that hope is found in meeting the Messiah.  He will reveal to us our true selves and with that will come the power, through the Holy Spirit, to put off our old self and put on the new.

Perhaps it may prove helpful to ask the Lord to show you any prejudices that you may be harboring.  And once revealed, ask Him to change you-removing the old and putting on the new Christlike one that He desires for you to be.

Disputes and Disagreements

Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers:  “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”  This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.  So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.    (Acts 15:1–2)

We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.   (Acts 15:24)

Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.  They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.   (Acts 15:37–40)

Disputes, disagreements, and debates – all normal for Kingdom leaders.  Nothing new under the sun.

In the first incident we have Paul and Barnabas entering into a debate on the purity of the gospel – a doctrinal issue.  This dispute could not be settled locally, thus a meeting was set to determine the solution to the problem.  Yes, even in the early Church meetings were common.

Arguments were presented and discussed and a final decision reached.  This decision was placed into writing and hand-delivered to the offended parties with some explanation of background and future expectations articulated.  A process to determine a solution to the problem was well executed.

The second disagreement was over a personnel decision – John Mark – and involved Paul and Barnabas.  This was resolved locally with a decision to go their separate ways.  Who was right or were they both wrong?  Perhaps it depends on one’s perspective.

Barnabas saw the potential in John Mark (his nephew) and was willing to give him another opportunity, not holding his past failure against him.  Paul, perhaps looking at this decision from a task orientation, did not want to jeopardize the mission by having a team member who had not proven himself faithful previously.

Perhaps they were both right.  Barnabas’ investment in John Mark proves well worth the time as Paul admits later in 2 Timothy 4:11.  Paul’s second missionary tour also proved profitable as he took Silas with him and opened Europe to the gospel.

Not all disagreements can end well.  But God’s purposes are not frustrated by these challenges.  Do your best to live at peace with all men (Romans 12:18) and trust Him for the outcomes.

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