Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Goals”

Focus for Impact

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”  Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demon.  Mark 1:35–39   NIV  1984

Jesus had some early recruits in the two sets of brothers who were fishing partners in Capernaum.  They had been with him off and on for about a year now, and life was about to take a major shift for all of them.  Jesus had recruited them to leave the fishing business in order to become vocational ‘religious’ workers – leaders in training.  They had enlisted, leaving family and friends behind, for what would turn out to be a two-year training assignment and a new life-long vocation.

Having just ended an inspirational evening the night before, they discover Jesus alone outside of town spending time in prayer and communion with His Father.  They assume that He will want to continue the wonderful experience of healing and miracles that occurred the night before, so they remind Him that, “everyone is looking for you.”  They assume that He would want to return to Peter and Andrew’s home and heal those who were gathering there.

But, Jesus responded with a risk-taking statement, “Let’s go to the nearby villages…that is why I have come.”  It was a risk to disappoint the expectations of his new recruits.  What if they insisted on Him coming back to help?  There was pressure on Jesus to conform to the wishes of His team and the needs of the masses.  But, Jesus boldly and confidently said ‘no.’

It was His mission – task – purpose that brought clarity to the decision that now had to be made.  He was focused on that purpose – the ‘why’ of His ministry.  Thus, while it may seem difficult, it was not really.  Clarity of purpose – mission made the decision an obvious one.  He must go to the surrounding villages to tell them the Good News of the Kingdom and not be consumed with the needs in Capernaum only.

Clarity of purpose and maintaining that focus is essential for leadership success.  Many a leader has started out well, having a clear vision for what they want to accomplish, but then in the midst of the ‘daily whiteout’ they forget why they are so busy.  Consumed by the immediate needs, they succumb to reactive leadership instead of maintaining their strategic intent.

Don’t fall into this trap.  Stay focused!  Stay strategic!  Don’t substitute busyness for strategic intent!

God’s Purposes

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.                       Psalm 138:8   NIV  1984

After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ …  “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.
Acts 13:22, 36   NIV  1984

David wrote Psalm 138 and testified that the Lord would fulfill His purpose for him.  By faith, David testified that the Lord would do for him what He had promised.  He was certain of it.

One thousand years later Paul testifies about David’s life in a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch on his first missionary journey.  He says that God found David to be a man after God’s own heart who would do whatever God asked of him.  And David did just that.  And when that purpose for his generation was completed, David fell asleep – he died.

Our God is a missional God who works.  Jesus reminds us that the Father is always at work and that He too is working (see John 5:17).  Because we are created in His image, we too are to have a missional mindset.

What is our purpose for which the Lord has made us?  What is it that He wants to accomplish in and through us?  Find that purpose and you will find satisfaction and peace.

Yes, there is the overarching purpose of knowing Him and bringing glory to Him (see John 17:3; Isaiah 43:7).  But there is also a personal purpose (mission, task) for which the Lord created you and redeemed you, asking you to accomplish this during your generation.

Ask Him to show you what that destiny is and then give yourself to it with your whole heart.  You were made for it!

Your purpose…. your destiny ….  your task…  your mission – do you know it and are you following Him into its fulfillment?

Vision and Provision

When a leader plans for the future, they must anticipate the resources needed to accomplish any idea that is planned.  Now there are two approaches to this planning process.  One involves walking by faith the other walking by sight.

One can plan according to the resources one has – taking stock of the current inventory and then planning accordingly.  Planning based upon what we see we currently have ‘in stock’ can be wise, but it is also limiting.  We are not free to dream, take bigger faith initiatives, or think beyond what our current limited resources allow us to do.

For Kingdom leaders a better approach would be to ask the Lord, “What would you have me/us to accomplish?”  Having gotten clear direction on that goal, we then look to the Lord Himself to provide the necessary resources to accomplish the task He has assigned.

In John 6:1-13 we see Jesus asking the Twelve to feed 5000 people.  Note that this was simply a developmental question for Philip (v. 5-6) “…for he already had in mind what he was going to do.”  Andrew answers by looking to the resources that they currently have on hand – not much.  “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (v. 9)  NIV 1984

Then Jesus springs into action.  He has them sit down. Then, taking what they had, the boy’s lunch of bread and fish, He provides for the current need.  He blesses food and the Twelve distributed it to the seated masses.  Note that those who were seated got “as much as they wanted” (v. 11) and that they even had twelve baskets of leftovers.

God’s provision for whatever task He asks of us is not limited to whatever current provision we have.  Rather, we have access to unlimited resources to accomplish whatever He may ask us to do.  His provision will come in such a way that we are assured it is from Him, for then He will receive the glory.  And His provision will be abundant, lavish, to the point of even having excess.  Note too the stewardship of the excess.  Jesus said to the disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over.  Let nothing be wasted.”  (v. 12).

As you think about the future plans that He has for you what perspective do you have regarding the resources needed?  Are you planning based upon what you see or what you can trust Him for?

The Cost of Following Jesus

When I was first around The Navigators, the vision of changing the world one person at a time took root in my heart.  Dana and I followed Him by leaving a promising career in equine medicine for the privilege of serving Him as full-time Navigator staff.  As I drove away from the clinic that last day, there was a great joy in my heart with little sense of sacrifice.

That calling eventually led to Indonesia with our three small children.  Five years of waiting for a visa and language study left us sitting in Singapore wondering if we would ever enter the country of our calling.  We did finally enter, but to lead an undergrad student ministry.  We never got to east Java, the role we have waited five years for.  Again the Lord’s faithfulness was evident as we thrived in a fruitful student ministry.

Ten plus years later led to an application for Indonesian citizenship.  But again our plans failed and we landed back in the U.S. with no clear future.  Months of waiting and trusting led to a move to Colorado Springs to join the Collegiate leadership team.  Three more years and I was leading the collegiate work with Dana.  Who would have imagined?

Transitioning the collegiate work led to a decade of coaching leaders in Europe and Dana serving with Nav20s.  Leader development contributions followed and finally a role these past three years as a Field Director for the Nations and serving on the NLT.  Not a clear career path for sure.

With each transition, move, and new responsibilities came new challenges and fears to be faced by faith and trust in His promises.  He has shown Himself faithful with each transition and surprised us with His wonderful goodness.  No amount of planning could account for the amazing journey Dana and I have found ourselves on.  There is no real sense of sacrifice, for His goodness far outweighs anything we have been asked to leave behind.

It continues as He has promised – to give back one-hundred times all that we may leave in serving Him (Mark 10:29-30).  May you too see the Lord’s faithfulness as you follow Him along the unique journey He has for you.

Living for the World to Come

What the world needs today is a generation of believers who have as their motto, “No reserves!  No retreats!  No regrets!”  What is needed is a fresh wave of committed men and women who cry out, “Anything!  Anywhere!  Anytime!  for Christ!” 

It will take people who will pay the price to stand against the tide of this world and choose to live for the world to come.  It will take disciples of Christ!

The world today is looking for authenticity in those who call themselves followers of Jesus.  The great crisis facing the world is a spiritual crisis.  The world needs Christ.  But it will only have the opportunity to respond if believers live lives focused on eternity instead of the temporal.

The Chinese character for ‘crisis’ is made up of two other characters meaning ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity.’  The spiritual crisis in the world today does indeed have dangerous implications.  Untold millions live quietly desperate lives, looking for answers everywhere except to the One who can help.

But this time in history is also a prime opportunity.  Never in history have so many been so desperate for answers to life’s seemingly impossible problems.  Believers know the One who can solve life’s problems.  Will they seek to know Christ in an ever-deepening way?  Will they seek to make Him known on an every broadening horizon?

The highest good in the Christian life is not serving Christ full-time. God’s best for any individual is discovering His plan for your life and then doing it with your whole heart!  Some will be called to full-time ministry, but many will serve Him as lay men and women bringing His love into their respective spheres of influence.  Whether full-time or laity, we are to give our all to and for Christ.

Teddy Roosevelt said many years ago,  “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Will you decide to live for Christ?

Will you choose to live for the world to come?

Living a Committed Life #1

In Luke 14:25-35 we read, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,  saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’  “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not 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, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.  “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Three times in this passage Jesus repeats the phrase “cannot be my disciple” (vs. 26,27,and 33).  These are three conditions that must be met if we are to become true followers of Him.  In verse 26 He says that we must put Him first above all other human relationships.  In fact, our love for Jesus must so far overshadow our love for others, that our love for others compares as hate.

In verse 27 Jesus reminds us once again that we must carry our cross.  This is similar imagery to what we looked at earlier in Luke 9:23.  To carry one’s cross means death–death to self.  It means death to one’s desires, hopes, plans, and dreams in order to fulfill the plans Christ has for us.  Finally, in verse 33, He tells us that we must give up everything if we are to be His disciples.  Nothing can claim a hold on our hearts and lives if we truly follow Him.  Everything is in an open hand to Christ, allowing Him to remove or add as He sees fit.

 

Living a Life of Love #2

Once believers have become disciples of Christ, we must help them begin to help others.  They must be equipped to impart the life of Christ to the next generation.  Disciples must be enabled to labor for Christ–to evangelize the lost and establish the new believers.  They must realize that they have been given a commission by Christ to disciple the nations.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”       Matthew 28:19-20

Where do we get a heart for evangelizing the lost, establishing the saved, and equipping laborers for Christ?  We only need to ask!

Several years ago four men, all in graduate and professional studies, decided to pray for 30 days straight from 5:30 am to 7:00 am on a hill overlooking Purdue University.  They prayed for one thing only during those mornings–that God would give them a heart for people.  They asked God to give them a heart as in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Those days ended but a permanent transaction had taken place in their hearts.  Within a few short years they had finished their studies, but all felt called of God to give themselves to ministering to people full-time.  They all came on staff with The Navigators.  One became a leader in the U.S., one went to Zimbabwe, one to Zambia, and I went to Indonesia.  Was it by coincidence?  No!  God had answered our prayers and given us a heart for people!

Not every believer is called or gifted for full-time ministry.  Seeking God’s best does not mean becoming a full-time Christian missionary.  But, those who choose to live for the world to come will give themselves to serving people in this world whatever their vocation.  They will have a heart for people because people are valuable to God.  They will grow in their love for people as God forms His heart within them.

Living with Margin

I’m taking a break this week!

Seeking to honor God by living within my margins and boundaries.

How about you?  When was the last time you took some time away for refreshment and rest?

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”      Mark 6:31

Living with Eternal Values #2

John Sung was a young Chinese believer who was sent by his family to America to study chemistry.  After obtaining his PhD from Ohio State he went on to seminary before returning to China.  During his time in the U.S., God called John to a life of service for the Kingdom.  On the ship home one evening, he took his diplomas and threw them into the Pacific Ocean, telling God he would follow Him wherever He led.

After arriving home, he told his family of  his calling and decision to serve Christ rather than teach science.  The family thought he had lost his mind and committed him a mental institution.  During his 193 days in the asylum, Sung read the Bible through 40 times!  Finally, the family had him released, and he became an itinerant evangelist traveling throughout China and many Asian countries.  His fifteen-year ministry was characterized by unusual power and influence until his death at the age of 43.

Not all of those who seek God’s best will be asked to give up their careers in order to serve Christ full-time.  Many will serve Him in God-honoring careers, being light and salt in the marketplace.  But whatever their vocation, the pilgrims of this new generation of believers will often live lives that will be misunderstood by others.  Pilgrim values will be contrary to the values of this world.  Life decisions based on eternal values will go against the tide of this world’s norms.  Pilgrims will be thought of as foolish or at least not living up to their full potential.  It will only be in the world to come that we will see completely who made the correct choices.  “But wisdom is proved right by all her children” (Luke 7:35).

“Seek to depend on God for everything.  Put yourself and your work into His hands.  When thinking of a new undertaking, ask, ‘Is this agreeable to the mind of God?  Is it for His glory?’  If it is not for His glory, it is not for your good, and you must have nothing to do with it.  Mind that!

“Having settled that a certain course is for the glory of God, begin in His name and continue it to the end.  Undertake it in prayer and faith and never give up.”                                                                                                George Mueller

The Need of the Hour #2

Hippolomy was a mythical, Greek young man who was in love with the beautiful Atlanta.  Atlanta, in addition to her striking beauty, was also a gifted runner, but she had a cruel, sadistic character.  Many young men became infatuated with her beauty and desired to marry her.  These men were challenged to a foot race with two conditions.  If the man won the race, he could marry Atlanta.  But if he lost, he would pay with his life.  Many a man tried and paid the ultimate price for his second place finish.

Hippolomy also became mesmerized by Atlanta’s beauty and challenged her to a race.  Shortly after the race began he fell behind.  Reaching into his tunic, he withdrew a golden apple and threw it in front of the streaking Atlanta.  The flash of gold caught her eye and she stopped to pick up the golden fruit as Hippolomy raced by.  She soon recovered and again moved ahead of him.  Hippolomy pulled a second golden apple from his tunic and threw it in front of Atlanta who once again stopped to pick it up.  As Hippolomy passed the crouching Atlanta, she realized that the race was nearing the finish, and she recovered soon enough to regain a comfortable lead with a short distance to go.

Hippolomy retrieved the last of his golden apples from his tunic and threw it ahead of Atlanta as she approached the finish.  Atlanta was in a quandary; should she stop and pick up the apple or press for the finish line  She reasoned that she certainly could do both, so she stopped to placed the golden fruit in her robe just a Hippolomy raced passed her towards the finish.  She recovered, but now with such a short distance to the finish line, she was not able to beat him.  Hippolomy had won!

This is not an illustration on how to find a life partner!  Rather, as we race through life, we will find the enemy of our souls rolling “golden apples” of opportunity, compromise, and temptation in our path.  These golden fruits will be attractive, and we will be tempted to believe that they will not impact our life’s race.  We will think that we can have it all and still finish well.  It will only be near the end of our life’s race that we’ll find that we can’t reach the finish, the summit, God’s best, because we chose to stop our race along the way. We thought it was only for a moment, that no one would know or care, but a moment’s compromise will lead to a mediocre, half-way life.

What the world needs today is a new generation of believers who will say “no” to this world’s values and live for the unseen world promised by Christ.  The reality of heaven will so impact the lives of this generation that they will not compromise or settle for anything less that than God’s best for themselves and those around them.  They will give themselves unreservedly to Christ–a generation whose watchword will be, “Anything, anywhere, anytime–for Christ!”

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