Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “emerging leaders”

Aging and Retirement – 2

The Lord said to Moses, “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.  They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work.   Numbers 8:23-26 NIV (1984)

Retirement, that is, stopping work for a life of ease, is a relatively modern concept.  J.I. Packer in his book, “Finishing our Course with Joy” says, “The Biblical “ideal of ripeness and increased focus in life in our old age stands in direct contrast to the advice for old age that our secular Western world currently gives.  Retirees are admonished, both explicitly and implicitly, in terms that boil down to this:  Relax.  Slow Down.  Take it easy.  Amuse yourself.  Do only what you enjoy.”

Cotton Mather, the Puritan firebrand, in the early 1700s attempted to encourage older workers to consider being “…pleased with the Retirement you are dismissed into.” [2]  This concept did not mean the worker would receive a monthly pension; rather it was an encouragement for the older to step aside and let the younger have a place of contribution.  Until the Industrial Revolution, mankind simply worked until they could work no longer.  It was the move away from primarily an agrarian society and to a factory work environment that was less physically demanding that gave older workers an opportunity to continue to work to increasingly older age. 

Monthly pensions to older workers began to be addressed in the U.S. in the late 1800s.  “In 1875, the American Express railroad company set a precedent by establishing the first private pension plan in America.  Banks, utility companies and manufacturing companies quickly followed suit and established pension plans funded mostly by the employer.” [3]

In 1883, Chancellor van Bismarck of Germany had to face the growing attraction of the Marxists who were promising older German factory workers an old age pension.  To counter the Marxists, van Bismarck offered to pay the German factory workers to stop working and receive a monthly payment from the government.  He chose the age of 65 as the age to stop working.  It is interesting to note that the life expectancy in Germany at the time was 62 years of age! [4]

As we form our policies and personal convictions on aging and retirement, let’s be aware of the historical development of the concept of retiring to a life of ease in our old age. More importantly, let’s look to the Bible for direction and help in addressing our aging staff and surrounding demographics.


[2] N.Y. Times, The History of Retirement, From Early Man to A.A.R.P.  March 21, 1999

[3] http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2006/04/01/the-history-of-retirement#.VwGUm5ispiI.email

[4] N.Y. Times, The History of Retirement, From Early Man to A.A.R.P.  March 21, 1999

Aging and Retirement – 1

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.      Leviticus 19:32 NIV (1984)

America is becoming a nation of old people (the aged) and many Kingdom ministries are similar.  By the year 2030 there will be more Americans over the age of 65 than under the age of 15.  Currently in the U.S. approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers retire each day! 

These demographics and their implications for our work demand that we be proactive in our strategy for how best to utilize and serve this staff demographic.

The world tends to operate from a functional worth system.  That is, the value or worth of an individual is determined by the function that they perform.  The more valuable the function performed, as deemed by society, the more valuable the person is according to society.  Thus, we pay more for leaders than followers, more for doctors than custodians, and more for experienced workers than less experienced ones.  It is this functional worth system that rationally can abort unborn children or euthanize the aged for their function is not deemed valuable by society. 

This functional worth system is in direct contrast to the positional worth system of the Kingdom.  Every individual, whether the unborn, the infirmed, or the aged, is deemed infinitely valuable.  They are all individuals who are created in God’s image and for whom Christ died.  Their value is not determined by function, but rather by position in God’s Kingdom as His unique creation. David Solie, a geriatric expert and author of “How to Say It to Seniors” says, “Aging in this culture is seen as a disease and a failure.” 

In the Leviticus passage above, we note that God reminds us to show respect and honor the aged and elderly. Don’t just put them aside, but rather view them as valuable assets to be strategically deployed for the advancement of the Gospel and the Kingdom.

Alignment – 2

A primary part of leading is aligning resources towards our agreed upon missional outcome. Because resources are limited and opportunity is seemingly unlimited, we must say ‘no’ to some things in order to align our limited resources to best opportunity to accomplish our mission. Below are some thoughts from Navigators staff, Paul Stanley on the important topic of alignment – part 2.

To illustrate alignment, let us look at it in several different contexts:

Alignment in a Team:  Alignment would mean that the members of the team are functioning as a whole. Each member would share a common vision and the individual capacities of the members would be aligned with the vision to create what the members truly desired. The members would be motivated to develop their talents so that their contribution would be greater and increase the desired results . The members would learn to work together, and the more they did alignment would increase. When alignment breaks down, the efforts of the members are partially dispersed rather that harmonized. An unaligned team is like the scattered, incoherent light of a light bulb rather than the “coherent” light of a laser.

Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline) observed that “…in an aligned team, there is commonality of purpose, a shared vision, and understanding of how to complement one another’s efforts. Individuals do not sacrifice their personal interests to the larger team vision; rather, the shared vision becomes an extension of their personal visions. In fact, alignment is the necessary condition before empowering the individual will empower the team.”

When in alignment, all four automobile tires are pointed in the exact same direction and provide a stable, consistent tide to the passengers. The tires complement one another’s’ performance. But, when the tires are not in alignment energy and rubber are lost and the ride is unstable.

Alignment in an Organization: Alignment would be achieved when the people within the organization, the ministries, the structures and systems and organizational processes are in line with the organization’s Vision, Calling and Values. Alignment would be recognized by the degree to which the organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values match the way the people who are part of the organization are living, relating, and ministering.

Gaining alignment in an organization is a leadership function. It is an ongoing task. Alignment is not to be confused with conformity, rather it is encouraging diversity but focusing and aligning it at the same time. Empowering individuals in an unaligned organization creates chaos, dissipates energy, and makes leading difficult, while the opposite is true in one that is well aligned. When we empowering part of an aligned organization we empower the whole.

Alignment is not a new concept for many leaders, but naming it helps us recognize whether we have it or not. In an unpredictable and rapidly changing environment in which we lead and minister, alignment becomes vital for keeping stability and maximizing our individual and group capacity for fulfilling our mission in a lost and struggling world.

Are you aligned?

Alignment – 1

A primary part of leading is aligning resources towards our agreed upon missional outcome. Because resources are limited and opportunity is seemingly unlimited, we must say ‘no’ to some things in order to align our limited resources to best opportunity to accomplish our mission.

Below are some thoughts from Navigators staff, Paul Stanley on the important topic of alignment.

“Building a visionary company requires 1% vision and 99% alignment. When you have superb alignment, a visitor could drop in from outer space  and infer your vision from the operations and activities of the company without ever reading ii on paper or meeting a single senior executive. Creating alignment may be your most important work. “ [from “Building Your Company’s Vision,” by James Collins and Jerry Porras, Harvard Business Review (Sept-Oct 1996)]

Alignment is not a new word in English, but its usage is new in the world of leadership and organization. Normally, “alignment” is used in the military to “bring a formation of soldiers in line” or to line up exactly behind one another. It has a second common usage with those who work with automobile engines to bring the pistons up and down movement into “alignment” with the electrical spark, so they would work together. … be in harmony with one another.

Alignment means that all elements of a whole are lined up with the same point.

When a group, team or organization is in alignment, the result or benefit is that the efforts of the parts are in line with or moving in the same direction or focused on the same goal. The point around which all the parts align themselves must be clear, and in the case of people, must be compelling.

Unity enhances alignment but differs slightly in that alignment focuses on an external point of reference and is active and dynamic. One can have unity while at the same time not be aligned. Unity in diversity is a blessing, but focused diversity (alignment) is strategic.

Next week we’ll look at how to practically bring alignment into our leadership context.

Coming Alongside Another Leader – 2

For many leaders, the presence of a wiser, more experienced leader who can come alongside and help them not only survive but thrive in their current labors for Christ is immensely helpful. 

So who would function well in this alongsider type role?  From my experience, those who are fruitful in this type of role have several characteristics.  First and foremost, they are mature in their walk with the Lord.  Being old in the Lord does not necessarily mean that we are mature in the Lord.  There are many who are older who are not mature.  And there are many younger in age who are wise and mature beyond their experience. 

A second essential for those who would serve as an ‘alongsider’ is that they must know their Bibles well.  They must have saturated their lives with the Scriptures to such an extent that they can illustrate the ways of God seen throughout the Word, not just quote one or two of their favorite texts. 

A third quality of a fruitful alongsider is that they are excellent listeners.  They would rather here one word from those they serve than ‘pontificate’ 1000 words of their own.  They show a genuine interest in the lives and well-being of those they help, having a holistic interest in all areas of their lives, not just the spiritual components. 

The final quality needed for serving well as an ‘alongsider’ is that of demonstrated self-control.  Note how Jesus introduces the above passage concerning the functions of the Holy Spirit.  In John 16:12 NLT He says, “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.”  Jesus had to hold back some of the things He desired to tell the disciples because they were not ready to receive it.  Jesus demonstrated great self-control in what, how, and when He shared with those He discipled and trained.  We would do well to follow His example. 

For those given the opportunity to come alongside others, helping them not just survive, but truly thrive in their season of life and in their labors for Christ, it is a great privilege.  May we not take this privilege as a ‘right’ to be demanded or expected, but a privilege to be received with humility and grace as we point others to Jesus and His Word.  He is the answer! 

Coming Alongside Another Leader – 1

For many leaders, the presence of a wiser, more experienced leader who can come alongside and help them not only survive but thrive in their current labors for Christ is immensely helpful.  What does an ‘alongsider’ do and who best qualifies to serve in this capacity?

In John 16 Jesus describes the role and function of the Holy Spirit – the Paraclete – who would come alongside of believers after Jesus was gone.  He says in John 16:13-15 (NIV):  “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” [italics added]  These three alongsider functions of the Spirit can help those of us who seek to come alongside others to mentor, coach, equip, and help them.

The first function Jesus mentions is that of ‘guiding.’  The Spirit guides believers to truth.  In our post-modern world, those we help desperately need to be able to discern truth from error, fact from fiction.  They must be reminded of our second Core Value – The truth and sufficiency of the Scriptures for the whole of life.  The Bible is sufficient for equipping us to labor for a life-time!  We will want to not only help them understand the Word, but also help them apply it to their lives. 

The second function Jesus mentions is one of ‘speaking.’  But note that this is not just any speaking.  It is speaking only what the Spirit hears from Jesus.  As we mentor and equip others we want to be very careful to speak what the Word says, pointing them to the authority of the Scriptures for our laboring in life and practice.  It can be tempting to add our own thoughts to the simplicity and clarity of the Word, especially with an eager listener.  James reminds us that those who teach others will be held to a higher standard – both by men and God when He evaluates our service (James 3:1; Hebrews 13:7).  This sobering reminder should give us pause before we add our own thoughts. 

Having said this, one strength of having experience and maturity in the Lord is that we can illustrate from our own lives and ministries how the Lord helped us or others when we are in similar circumstances.  Just be careful how much you ‘share’ for the Spirit is very capable of communicating all that Jesus says with or without our help!  Be slow to speak and quick to listen! 

The third function of the Spirit Jesus mentions is that of ‘glorifying.’  We see that He specifically glorifies Jesus and not Himself.  This is so very important that we also point others to the reality that Jesus will never leave them, always be faithful to them, and give them all they need to accomplish all He desires in and through them.  Jesus IS the answer!

Becoming a High-Yield Field

As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty. Matthew 13:23 ESV

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus mentions four different types of soil.  Each soil receives the seed, but only one, the good soil, produces a crop.  The problem is not in the seed, but rather with the soil.  How can we be sure we are becoming good soil that will yield a bumper crop?

The good soil is the person who hears and understands God’s message.  High-yield soil receives God’s Word and seeks to apply it to their lives.  The soil does not work to produce the crop.  Rather it simply provides the environment for the seed to reach its full potential and do the purpose for which it was planted.  The life and power are in the seed! If we give ourselves to God and applying His Word to our lives, we too will become a high-yield field!

  • What does God say about the power of His Word in the following verses? — Isaiah 55:8-11; Jeremiah 23:29
  • What do the following passages say about the crop that the Lord is looking for in our lives? — Matthew 7:15-20; Galatians 5:19-26

Question to ponder:  Is there anything that is hindering God from producing the crop in your life that He desires?

Passages for further study: Jeremiah 17:7-8; John 15:1-17

Prayer – Opening Your Heart

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:35-36 ESV

Does God always answer our prayers?  Yes, but sometimes His answer is “No.”  Even Jesus, the Son of God, was told “no” by His Father when He asked not to be crucified (Luke 22:41-44)!  God always listens, He always answers, but there are times when His better way is that we don’t receive what we request.

God listens to our hearts not our words when we pray.  Prayer is sharing our heart, our thoughts, and our feelings with our Father in heaven.  Prayer is being real, open, and transparent in our communication with God.  As we talk with God, we can tell Him how we really feel.  He can take it! We can ask Him for big things – impossible things. He’s not overwhelmed or stressed out by our great requests. He can handle whatever we bring up.

  • What promises does God make in the following passages to those who pray? — John 14:12-14; 1 John 5:14-15
  • In the following verses, what conditions are mentioned for answered prayer? —  Matthew 6:5-15; James 4:3

Questions to ponder:  Why do you think God takes a long time to answer some prayers?

Passages for further study: Mark 11:22-24; Luke 18:1-8

A Heart for People

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cost of Discipleship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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