Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Humility”

When God Says “Sit”

 

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”    Matthew 26:36  ESV  (emphasis added)

It’s the night before the crucifixion and Jesus is now taking the 11 (Judas had left them) into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray for an extended time.  Note that He separates the 11 into the three on His ‘executive team’ – Peter, James and John who go with Him a little farther into the garden and the eight who are left to sit and wait.  We know of the three who continually fell asleep and could not watch as Jesus struggled in prayer that night.  But let’s focus on the far side of the garden where the other eight were left.

It’s interesting to note that the Lord’s instruction was open ended.  That is, they were told to sit while He took the three with Him.  He let them know that He would not be far away – I’ll ‘go over there’ – that is, just separate enough from you all to have some privacy in prayer.  The implication was that they were to wait for His return from His exercise with the three.  They are not told what to do while He was gone, other than to ‘sit.’

How hard it is for Kingdom leaders when God says to us, ‘Sit down and wait.’  Leaders are people of action – always wanting to make something happen and never satisfied with the status quo.  We want to ‘get on with it’ and do something – anything other than ‘sit.’  We grow restless quickly, thinking we are wasting precious time or not being ‘productive’ for the Lord.  But it was at the word of Jesus, their Lord, that the eight were told to ‘sit.’  So… they sat down, ‘away from the action’ and waited for further instruction.

Has God told you to ‘sit down?’  Do you feel like you are on the siding watching the trains of life pass you by?  Are you wondering if or when God will invite you back ‘into the game?’  He has good purposes for you and as part of that plan, He is now asking you to sit down.  So, you may grumble or fight against it, thinking how unfair God is or how you are not being utilized as you desire.  Or you can willingly obey His instruction and trust Him that when the time is right, you will be invited to once again get going.

Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise, let us be going...”   Matthew 26:45-46  ESV  (emphasis added)

How’s your attitude? 

 

Calling in an Expert

And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the LORD said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the LORD has promised good to Israel.” But he said to him, “I will not go. I will depart to my own land and to my kindred.” And he said, “Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. And if you do go with us, whatever good the LORD will do to us, the same will we do to you.”     Numbers 10:29-32  ESV

Israel had been in the Sinai for two years since the Exodus and now the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle and they were to begin their pilgrimage.  The Lord had told them that this journey would last for 40 years – until the generation that did not believe and obey His promises had died.

It’s interesting that though the Lord was guiding Israel with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, Moses still sought the help and advice of a local expert who knew the environment.  The cloud would give them the general direction to move, but the large number of people had to choose a place to camp.  It was in this selection of a camping spot that Moses sought the help of a local expert – Hobab – for he knew ‘where we should camp in the wilderness.’

Kingdom leaders are certainly led by God through the Holy Spirit in their decisions, just as Moses and Israel were led by the Lord in their desert journey.  But a wise leader knows that there are situations when the counsel and help of an expert can be of great assistance.

Moses recruited Hobab to join with them in the journey.  He promised him reward for his service – the same reward that all would share together.  It seems that Hobab was a brother-in-law to Moses who he had come to know and trust during his forty years of working for Jethro (also known as Reuel – see Exodus 2:18).  Though Moses had forty years of desert experience, he recognized that Hobab knew much more about desert living than he and thus the request for help.

Wise Kingdom leaders know when to ask for outside expertise for supporting their leadership.  This takes humility and teachability to acknowledge we do not have all the answers.  Ask for help when you need it!

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 4

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they seek to navigate the many challenges of our day.

But, what does godly wisdom look like?  James describes seven characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The fourth manifestation of godly wisdom is that it is submissive.

Those Kingdom leaders with godly wisdom submit themselves to God as Lord in all areas of life and leadership.  The root of their submission is found in their humility – knowing that they are His Creation and they are given leadership responsibility as a stewardship to advance His purposes and for His glory.

Godly, wise leaders submit to the authority of God’s Word.  In our post-modern world we are told that all truth is relative and that there is no absolute truth.  Kingdom leaders reject this philosophy and base their leadership on the unchanging, final authority of the Bible.

God’s wisdom submits to the authority of earthly governments and spiritual leaders place over us, recognizing that they are established by God.  We submit to those leaders for they are appointed by God to watch over us and care for us (see Hebrews 13:17).  Note how Jesus modeled this from an early age regarding His submission to His parents.  “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.”   Luke 2:51  ESV

Submission does not mean we have to do whatever is dictated.  Certainly we can appeal to an authority over us (see Daniel’s appeal when asked to violate his convictions).  But, in our submission, having made our appeal, we submit to the authority of our leaders and entrust ourselves to God for the outcome.  Godly leaders do not lead rebellions or insurrections.

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.  Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.   1 Peter 5:5-7   ESV

Bend Your Neck

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.      Deuteronomy 32:9   (NIV 1984)

Isn’t it interesting that the Lord uses a phrase – stiff-necked – to describe a people who are unwilling to obey Him or submit to His authority over them.  Why not something like ‘cold-hearted’ or ‘hard-headed’ or just ‘strong-willed?’

A ‘stiff-necked’ person is one who holds their head rigidly erect.  It’s a sign of inward pride and self-confidence gone to an extreme.  The stiff-necked person is one who is inwardly (sometimes outwardly also) rebellious to the rule and reign of God in them. They would rather trust themselves than take the risk of entrusting themselves to the Lord.

The person who bends their neck demonstrates a sign of submission and a willingness to trust the Lord’s leadership in their lives.  They acknowledge their limits and willingly invite the Lord into their leadership knowing that they are really not that important in the grand scheme of things.

Signs of a ‘stiff-necked’ person:

  1.  A shallow, hurried, perfunctory prayer life.
  2.  An unwillingness to delegate responsibility to others.
  3.  A leader who is focused more on control than outcomes.
  4.  An unteachable attitude to others, especially those who they are leading.
  5.  A selective teachability, picking and choosing from those who they see as worthy of their attention.
  6.  In decision-making – especially important decisions – made without taking counsel from the Lord or others.
  7.  Self-centered talk with a lack of active listening and few questions for others.
  8.  Taking credit for the success of others.

The stiff-necked leader may be one who has some ‘success’ – at least short-term.  They seem to get things done.  But, this is a short-lived result.  For the Lord says that He actively opposes the proud (see 1 Peter 5:5-6).  He will not share His glory with another.

So… how’s that stiffening feeling in your neck these days?

My Weaknesses – Blessing or Curse?

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.   Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.   But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.     2 Corinthians 12:7-10  (ESV)

Paul, a man used greatly of God and also a man given many advantages and special privileges (like personally seeing heaven and the glory that awaits all who believe), also had a great struggle.  He confesses that these wonderful things that he experienced could become a root of pride within his life.  Therefore, the Lord ‘gifted’ him with a ‘thorn’ that he might not become conceited.

This difficulty-weakness-handicap was something physical that limited Paul and made him depend upon the Lord for ability to accomplish his mission.  While not clear what this was (perhaps poor eyesight or partial blindness – see Galatians 4:15 and 6:11), it was burdensome enough for Paul to ask the Lord to heal him and remove the handicap from him.  Three times he asked the Lord for help and three times he was told ‘no.’

Finally Paul came to understand that this thorn was not something to be removed, but rather something to be gloried in.  It demonstrated his weakness and therefore, his total dependence upon the Lord for help.  Therefore, he says, I learned that in my weakness God’s power is manifested more clearly.

What is it that comes to your mind as an impediment to your leadership?  What physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual weakness do you wish were changed or removed in order for you to better serve His purposes?

Perhaps, like Paul’s thorn, what you see as weakness is a gift from the Lord to help you demonstrate His power in and through you.

Are you wishing it were removed from you?  Are you just tolerating it – gritting your teeth and grinding on?  Or are you boasting in your weakness, knowing that He is glorified through it and His power now more evident in you?

Modeling Humility as a Kingdom Leader

Humility is a powerful tool for influence when it emanates from the life of a leader.  Jesus was the perfect model for a leader who consistently demonstrated humility in a variety of situations.

Here’s some examples of Jesus’ choosing to humble Himself…

  1. He became a man and took the form of a servant  –  Philippians 2:5-11
  2. He submitted Himself to baptism by John the Baptist  –  Matthew 3:13-16
  3. He paid the temple tax even though a Son of the King  –  Matthew 17:24-27
  4. He submitted to the Father’s will for the cross  –  Mark 14:32-36

Humility is attractive when it’s genuine.  We can sense it in others when it is not genuine.  We can also pick up very quickly when someone is proud or simply pretending to be humble.

As the Lord will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8), leaders who do not lead with humility, but rather take credit themselves for their accomplishments, are in for a rude awakening.  The proud who don’t demonstrate humility are in for a tough lesson when the Lord finally runs out of patience and acts to humble them (see 1 Peter 5:5).

Nebuchadnezzar was one such leader who learned the lesson of humility through having God humble him.  After a long, painful process, he summarizes his journey with this pointed statement:   “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.  And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”  (Daniel 4:28-37)

We have this choice – to humble ourselves or to wait and have the Lord humble us.  Could I suggest that the former is preferable, for when God acts to humble the proud, it will be a very thorough, life-altering lesson.

What will you choose?

Leadership is a Miracle

The following is the third excerpt from an article by R. Scott Rodin titled, “Becoming a Leader of No Reputation” that originally was published in Journal of Religious Leadership,/ Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002), pp. 105 – 119.

“I have come to the conclusion that when God uses any of us to lead effectively, it is nothing short of a miracle.  When we place the complex and demanding role of a godly leader next to an honest self-awareness of our own sinfulness and incompetence, we are thrown wholly upon the grace of God and his faithfulness if we are ever to lead anyone anywhere.

“I have come to learn that we must approach leadership in dependent humility.  Throughout history God looked to the least, the weakest, the outcast, the untalented, the sinful and the rejected to give great leadership at historic times.  And He hasn’t changed that approach today.  If we are honest as leaders, we know that we are not capable of leading as the size and complexity of our call demands.  We know that there are others more talented, more prepared, more spiritual and more courageous than are we.  But great godly leaders have always worked at that miraculous intersection where humility and faith meet the awesome presence and power of God’s Spirit.

“When God uses us to lead, and lead effectively, we should fall on our knees in wonder and thanksgiving that we have seen again this miracle worked in our midst.  However, it is far too easy for us to take ownership of this miracle and to believe that these results are due to our own wonderful abilities and leadership qualities.  If and when we make this subtle yet devastating shift, the efficacy of our leadership for the kingdom is over.  We are on our own, cut off from the power and preservation of the Spirit.  Every leader finds himself or herself there at some point in their work, and it is a terrifying place to be!

“Godly leadership is the miracle of God’s use of our earthen vessels for the glorious work of His kingdom.  To miss this miraculous aspect of leadership will threaten everything we do as leaders, and our office or study will be the loneliest place on earth.  I have come to understand the miracle of godly leadership, and its connection with self-awareness, the need to decrease and the power of God’s anointing.””

Who has been getting the credit for the results of your leadership recently?

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