Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “emerging leaders”

Why Are You So Afraid?

Fear is a God-given emotion that has the benefit of protecting us from potential threats.  Only God does not know fear, for nothing is a threat to Him.  To be afraid of something is not sin.  But fear can become sin if we let it control us.  So, when Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid,” He is not suggesting that we ignore our fears.  That would be impossible.  But He is saying that we are not to be controlled by fear, rather, act in faith – faith in Him who knows no fear!

In the gospel of Mark, we find these references to fearful situations that the disciples faced.  Reflect on the circumstances of each incident that created the fear response.

Mark 4:40 ESV     He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  –  fear for physical safety

Mark 6:50 ESV      …for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  –  fear from a very unusual experience

Mark 9:32 ESV      But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.  –  fear of being thought of as stupid or incompetent

Mark 10:32 ESV     And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him…  –  fear of possible death from persecution

Mark 16:8 ESV     And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  –  fear of other’s opinions

Kingdom leaders face fear daily.  Nothing new here.  The only question we must answer is how do we respond?  Does our fear control us and dictate our actions?  Do we look to our own resources to deal with our perceived threat?  Or do we use these situations to remind us of our need for help from the Lord and the empowerment that can come only from Him?

We are not talking about putting on some ‘brave front’ or false bravado.  It’s OK to acknowledge whatever threat we encounter.  Foolishness denies the reality.  But faith names the threat and calls upon the Lord to help.  He has promised never to leave or forsake us.  He has promised to answer when we cry for His help.

… and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.   Psalm 50:15 ESV

What are you afraid of today?  Call for His help!

Age and Contribution

“Take a census of the sons of Gershon also, by their fathers’ houses and by their clans. From thirty years old up to fifty years old, you shall list them, all who can come to do duty, to do service in the tent of meeting. …  All the service of the sons of the Gershonites shall be at the command of Aaron and his sons, in all that they are to carry and in all that they have to do. And you shall assign to their charge all that they are to carry.”   Numbers 4:23-24; 27  ESV

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”   Number 8:23-26  ESV

The Lord set age boundaries when serving.  During the forty years in the desert after the Exodus, those who carried the parts of the Tabernacle we to be from 30 to 50 years of age.  Physical strength was necessary and maturity to handle these pieces carefully were requirements and thus, thirty years old was the minimum age allowed.  The rest of the Levites who were to serve in the Tabernacle, could begin as early as 25 years of age.

Whether serving in the Tabernacle or carrying it through the desert, both tasks were age limited to 50 years old.  Upon reaching that age, Levites were to “withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more.”  The older Levites moved from direct ministry in the Tabernacle to an indirect role of serving others by ‘keeping guard.’

It would seem that a pattern of ministry is that direct ministry is primarily a young person’s responsibility.  But with increasing age and experience, older servants move into more indirect roles, thus making room for younger leaders to emerge.  Note that the older Levites did not ‘retire,’ they just assumed less intense ministry roles.

These guidelines for Levitical service in the Tabernacle should cause us to pause and think carefully about our own ministry contributions and those whom we lead.  Are you thinking about your succession plan?  Are you looking to transition into a more indirect role of service?

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.    Lamentations 3:27  ESV

Why Go I Mourning?

“Why go I mourning?” — Psalm 42:9

Canst thou answer this, believer? Canst thou find any reason why thou art so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told thee that the night would never end in day? Who told thee that the sea of circumstances would ebb out till there should be nothing left but long leagues of the mud of horrible poverty? Who told thee that the winter of thy discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow, and ice, and hail, to deeper snow, and yet more heavy tempest of despair?

Knowest thou not that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Hope thou then! Hope thou ever! For God fails thee not. Dost thou not know that thy God loves thee in the midst of all this? Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God’s love is as true to thee now as it was in thy brightest moments. No father chastens always: thy Lord hates the rod as much as thou dost; He only cares to use it for that reason which should make thee willing to receive it, namely, that it works thy lasting good.

Thou shalt yet climb Jacob’s ladder with the angels, and behold Him who sits at the top of it-thy covenant God. Thou shalt yet, amidst the splendors of eternity, forget the trials of time, or only remember them to bless the God who led thee through them, and wrought thy lasting good by them. Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Make the wilderness to blossom like the rose! Cause the desert to ring with thine exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then “for ever with the Lord,” thy bliss shall never wane.          Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

“Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe and thou shalt see,
That Christ is all in all to thee.”          Hymn, Fight the Good Fight, by John S. B. Monsell (1863)

Fig Tree Prayer Lessons

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  Mark 11:20-25 ESV

When Jesus cursed the fig tree after not finding any fruit on it, His disciples took note (see Mark 11:12-14).  Upon passing by the tree the following day, Peter draws everyone’s attention to the withered tree. Jesus used the opportunity to instruct them in some key principles of prayer.

1. Jesus begins the fig tree lesson with a reminder that the object of their prayer of faith is God Himself.  It is God who answers and moves mountains, not our faith.  We just need have the faith to ask!  Jesus did not say, “Have faith!” – but rather, “Have faith in God!”

2. He goes on to remind us that we must bring our requests before the Lord.  We must ask! Jesus assumes that we will ask specifically – “Lord, move this mountain!”  While this may seem obvious, James rebukes us with, “…You do not have, because you do not ask.”  James 4:2 ESV

3. Jesus now instructs His followers that when making our petitions we are not to doubt in our heart that God will answer.  This does not mean that we have to self-brainwash ourselves trying to remove all doubt.  But the exhortation is to avoid a type of doubt that says, “I know this is a waste of time, but just in case, I’ll make my request.”  That type of praying sees the act of prayer as a kind of good luck charm or perfunctory act.  God is not honored with such requests.

4.  Next Jesus reminds us that instead of doubting, we are to believe in our heart that our prayers will be granted.  Even more, He says, we are to believe that we have already received the answer.  This is an attitude of expectancy from the Lord based upon His promises, faithfulness, love and generosity towards us. It is rooted in the reality, “… If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Romans 8:31 ESV

5. Lastly, Jesus states that unresolved conflicts and a failure to forgive those who have wronged us will hinder our prayers.  The Holy Spirit will remind us as we pray of those who we are to forgive. (see Matthew 5:23-24 and 1 Peter 3:19)

Certainly Jesus had much more to say about the subject of prayer (see Matthew 6 and Luke 11) .  But it is important to note that during the last week of His public ministry, He taught His followers about prayer as illustrated by a withered fig tree.

 

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.

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.

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.

Kingdom Leaders and the Word

Study it through, Pray it in, Live it out, Pass it on.       Leighton Ford

Jesus reminds us that it is the seed of the Word of God the Kingdom worker plants that springs forth in the life soil of an individual (Mark 4:14).  Peter reminds us that we have been born again by the seed of the Word of God –  “… since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…” 1 Peter 1:23 ESV

A mark of a Kingdom leader is that they saturate their life and leadership with the Scriptures.  Not in a proof text, Post-it note kind of way – “Ooops, I’d better add a verse to this so that it sounds more spiritual.”  Rather, they have so embedded themselves in the Word of God that it naturally flows from them as they live and lead others to accomplish mission for the glory of God.

Note in the above quote that the first three steps regarding saturating our life and leadership with the Bible are internally focused.  We study the Word, not in a purely academic sense, but rather, with an eye towards applying it to ourselves and then to others.

Next we pray over the Scriptures with a meditative, contemplative attitude, expecting God to speak to us personally.  He will speak to our current situations and challenges, directing our paths and helping us sort out His voices from the cacophony that that surrounds us.  In Isaiah 30:21 (ESV) He promises, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

Next in the ministry of the Word is that we have to apply it to ourselves before we share it with others.  It was Howard Hendricks who said, “If it does not work at ‘home,’ don’t export it!”  Hypocrisy is by definition not living what you instruct others to be or do and Jesus had much to say about hypocrites – none of it positive!

Lastly, having studied, prayed and personally applied the Word, we now share it with others.  We align our leadership with God’s ways and seek to bring glory to Him, knowing that we will give an account for our actions at the end of our days. Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” And James gives Kingdom leaders this sobering reminder, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1 ESV)

Thus, we do humbly serve the King and seek to advance His Kingdom by honoring His Word in our life and leadership.  Are you seeking to saturate your life with the Word?  Are you pursuing knowing Him and abiding in Him by meeting Him daily in the Scriptures?

Over-Communicate!!!

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”  So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.      Exodus 24:12-13  ESV

The Lord had something extremely important to communicate to His people.  So, He called Moses and his aide, Joshua, up on a mountain top for 40 days of extended time together.  What was communicated from God to Moses during those days was recorded by him in the following chapters of Exodus, chapters 25-31.  Let’s examine how God communicated to and through leadership.

There were three general means of communication that the Lord used to get the message of the Law, the Tabernacle, and Levitical leadership across to Moses (and Joshua), seeking to ensure clarity of message.

The first means of communication was verbal.  “The LORD said to Moses…” (Exodus 25:1).  To deliver a message, speaking the message to another (sometimes repeating the message) is an initial step.  The fact that Moses records the words spoken to him by God implies that he (or perhaps his aide- Joshua) were taking detailed notes of what was being spoken to them.

Secondly, we note that God used visual reinforcement of what He communicated verbally.  “Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.” (Exodus 25:9 ESV)  Again the Lord says, “And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40 ESV)

The third way the Lord used to deepen the impact and clarify the message was by written words.  Note what Moses took down the mountain when he left after 40 days.  “And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18 ESV)  Here was the ‘executive summary’ of the Law – the 10 Commandments –  written on stone tablets by God Himself.

Verbal, visual, and written means of communication were all used by God to ‘over-communicate’ this very important message.  As Kingdom leaders, don’t assume telling is communicating.  Don’t assume because you put it in writing that those you lead are reading it.  And yes, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words!

May it not be said of your leadership, “What we have here is a failure to communicate!”

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?

Apathy or Engagement?

For some men die by shrapnel,
And some go down in flames.
But most men perish inch by inch
In play at little games.
     The Night they Burned Shanghai  by Robert D. Abrahams

God is one who works.  He is always at work.  The Bible opens with God at  work creating the universe.  Jesus reminds us in John 5:17 (NIV), “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” God has grand plans and purposes which He invites us into.  Kingdom people are invited to join Him in His work, co-laboring with Him (see 1 Corinthians 3:9).

But for those who would volunteer for God’s army, there are certain conditions for ‘active duty.’  Note what the Lord says about those who would seek to enlist for His service.

2 Timothy 2:4 – No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.

2 Timothy 2:20-24 – In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

Luke 14:26-33 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

Luke 9:23-24 – Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

Philippians 3:12-14 – Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Life is too short to be playing silly little games.  God’s grand purposes await those who would ‘give up everything and follow Him.’  The One who launched the greatest enterprise the world has ever known – discipling the nations for Christ – beckons us join the effort and engage.

Isaiah 6:8 – Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here am I.  Send me!”

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