Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Influence”

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?

Modeling and Managing Yourself

Leading and managing others is much easier if you are able to manage yourself first.  Self-management, being able to self-direct, is a prerequisite for deeper leadership influence.  Your personal example as a leader speaks very loudly to those around you.

Below are some passages that speak to this idea of self-management and being an example for others.  Reflect upon them in the context of your leadership influence.

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,
and discerning if he holds his tongue.   (Proverbs 17:28  NIV 1984)

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be.  (James 3:9–10  NIV 1984)

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.”  (John 16:12  NIV 1984)

When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.  Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.  (Proverbs 23:1–3  NIV 1984)

But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’  Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  (Luke 14:10–11  NIV 1984)

Do to others as you would have them do to you.  (Luke 6:31  NIV 1984)

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.  (1 Thessalonians 5:15  NIV 1984)

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.  (1 Timothy 4:12  NIV 1984)

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.  (1 Corinthians 11:1  NIV  1984)

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  (John 13:15  NIV 1984)

As a Kingdom leader you are being watched and your example speaks louder than your words.  What are you modeling that others may imitate?

Packaging the Message

Leaders desire to influence and deeply impact those around them.  Kingdom leaders want to do so for the advance of the gospel and to bring glory to Christ.

In 1 Samuel 16:7 the Lord reminds Samuel as he is selecting from among Jesse’s sons a replacement for Saul, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.  (1 Samuel 16:7   NIV 1984).

There are two truths in this advice.  Primary is the truth that the Lord’s criteria for leadership selection is based upon what is internal – the heart of a person.  But there is also a second truth – people do look at the outward appearance.  Many a leader has neglected to consider the importance of the ‘exterior’ image that they project.  So much so, that the message that God has given them and their leadership influence is muted because the ‘packaging’ of the messenger is distracting.

This is not to suggest that Kingdom leaders must wear designer clothing or be modeling the latest trend or cultural fad.  But wisdom says that we don’t want our exterior to detract or confuse the message that God has given us to deliver.

That’s why Paul said, “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”  (1 Corinthians 9:20-23  NIV 1984)

So how’s the ‘packaging’ of the message and the messenger?  You might consider asking your spouse or a trusted friend for any suggestions they may have on how you can improve or change.

The task is too important to neglect this!

 

The – What to Do If – Notebook

Leaders rarely plan for their sudden death, often leaving their personal and professional affairs in a mess.  Part of good, strategic leadership is thinking and planning ahead for the unexpected or untimely.  Good stewardship of your responsibilities, both personal and professional, means preparing for a transition should something happen to you unexpectedly.  Let’s examine the personal aspect first.

It is extremely helpful if you collect all the important, vital documents and information in one centralized place and that your spouse knows where this is located with easy access.  I placed my info in a “What to Do If” notebook.  Should something happen to me – plane crash, car accident, heart attack, etc.) my wife knows where to go to help her sort through the myriad of decisions that she will be facing.  Here’s some of the items in my notebook.

1.  Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney – make sure it’s up to date; you may want to include your wishes for the funeral or memorial service and the disposal of your remains; these are copies as the originals are kept in the safe deposit box

2.  Computer and Hard Drive/Cloud Backup access  –  passwords and PINs

3.  Financial Records – banking, credit cards, investments; account numbers, websites, phone numbers, passwords; safe deposit box access and inventory of box

3.  Life Insurance Policies  –  amounts on policies and contact information for filing a claim; you may even list suggestions on what to do with the payouts

4.  Other Assets  –  any other asset of value; properties, collections, antiques (consider designating the distribution of particular items, especially family heirlooms)

5.  Memberships, Warranties, Maintenance Agreements – location and type of memberships and warranties for household items or autos

6.  Monthly Bills  –  what bills are due monthly, quarterly, annually and how to pay them

7.  Personal Records  –  birth certificates, passports, marriage certificate  –  location of files

I collected all of the above information into one notebook – the What to Do If notebook.  Should my wife get word of my death, she knows where to go for guidance.  I collected the most important details in a two page executive summary at the beginning of the notebook and the rest is filled with copies of statements, records, etc. for her to reference, if needed.

We have talked over the contents of the notebook together to clarify any questions she may have.  I also asked my oldest son to review the notebook with both of us, so that he can lend objective support in executing the details after I’m gone.

Loving care and good stewardship means we plan for the unexpected and help prepare a way forward for those we leave behind.  Seek to make it as easy as possible for them.  Taking the initiative and planning ahead means you really do care!

Where’s your notebook?  Does your spouse know where it is?

Sharing Your Story #1

Our personal salvation story is designed to be shared with a non-believer.  Our testimony will have its most impact if shared naturally during a personal conversation or in a small group.  It can be used as a “door opener” in order to turn the attention of your listener towards spiritual matters and create an opportunity to share the gospel in a more complete way.  Successful evangelism begins with a well-prepared testimony.

When sharing our testimony we want to explain what Christ has done in our lives, not preach at our listener.  Everyone who has trusted Christ as their personal Savior has a testimony about how God has touched their life.  Certainly this testimony is different for each person; we are not seeking to have our listener imitate our personal experience, rather we want them to personally trust Christ as their Savior.

Your testimony may be dramatic, especially if you trusted Christ as an adult, or it may not be so spectacular, if you trusted Christ as a child.  But, spectacular or not, God can use your testimony to touch the hearts of others.  A disciple of Jesus must be able to tell others how they came to know Christ.

OUTLINE FOR A SALVATION TESTIMONY

PART 1           Before I Trusted Christ

A brief background sketch of what your life was like before you trusted Christ (i.e. family, old way of life).  During this section you may want to share one or two specific instances that would illustrate what your life was like without Christ.  If you share some sinful experience, do not give a lot of details as this can disturb your listener’s concentration and detract from your main point.

PART 2           How I Trusted Christ

Specifically share how you came to know Christ as your personal Savior (i.e.  when, where).  Create a word picture that will attract your listener’s attention.

In this section you must remember to distinctly share the four parts of the gospel  as follows:

  • all people have sinned;
  • all people will be punished with death because of their sin;
  • because God loves us, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sin – accepting our punishment;
  • we must each personally acknowledge that we are sinners and place our trust in Jesus as our Savior.

PART 3           After I Trusted Christ

Explain briefly what changes you have seen in your life since you accepted Christ as your Savior (i.e. deep peace because our sins are forgiven, the reality of the new life, assurance of salvation based on the promises of God).

Your objective is to be able share this three-part testimony in approximately four minutes.  If we examine the testimony of Paul as shared in Acts 24 and Acts 26 we find that it was about this length of time.  We can also see that Paul’s testimony easily divides into the three parts listed above, which we use as our model testimony.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

One of the blessings of the years our family spent in Indonesia was that we lived as a Christian minority.  The blessing in this became evident at the time of major Christian holidays, like Christmas.  There were no cultural distractions to have to explain or avoid.  Rather, Christmas was what we made it.  We could introduce our own traditions and values without having the distractions from the society around us.

Today we live in America once again and are confronted with all of the Christmas traditions that go with the holiday season.  Perhaps like me, you’ve wondered where all of these traditions came from.  Here’s some background to help with giving some new (old?) meaning to these seasonal traditions.

December 25 – The Day of Jesus’ Birth

In ancient times birthdays were celebrated only by kings and royalty.  It was not customary to record the specific date of an individual’s birth.  Being unsure of the exact date of Jesus’ birth, many dates began to be observed as Christianity spread from country to country.

Bishop Hippolytus calculated the birth of Jesus to be December 25 in 235 AD.  Emperor Constantine ordered the celebration of Christmas in 320 AD.  Since 400 AD Christendom has accepted this date as the traditional date of Jesus’ birth.

Christmas was first celebrated in America in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia.  In 1836 Alabama became the first state to establish Christmas as a legal holiday.  Colorado recognized Christmas as a state holiday in 1861.

St. Nicholas or Santa Claus

Nicholas was born and raised in Turkey in 280 AD.  When Nicholas reached age 19 he entered the priesthood.  He became known as the ‘patron saint of children’ because of his habit of leaving unidentified gifts at the homes of needy families.  This mysterious donor is called “Father Christmas” in England.

Introduced as “Sinterklass”  to America by the Dutch as the patron saint of their colonies or as the English and French said, “Saneta Claas.”  In 1809 Washington Irving portrayed a jolly fellow who rode in a sleigh pulled by reindeer; a far cry from the original St. Nicholas.  The giving spirit of St. Nicholas should inspire us all.

Candy Canes

A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy to celebrate the birth of Jesus, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane.  He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus.

He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy.  He chose white to symbolize the purity and Virgin Birth of Jesus.  He made it in the “J” shape for the name of Jesus.  The shape is also that of a shepherd’s staff, to remind us that the Bible calls Jesus the Good Shepherd.  The red stripe is to remind us of the blood Christ shed for us when he died on a cross.

Christmas Carols

Until the Middle Ages there was no congregational singing in Christian churches.  Trained choirs sang chants and monotonous songs.  After the Christmas services, the church members would often gather in the streets to sing songs about the birth of Jesus, called ‘carola.’  Martin Luther introduced congregational singing to the churches.

“Silent Night” is the most popular Christmas carol.  Written on Christmas eve in Obendorf, Austria in 1818 by a priest as he walked in the snow house-to-house inviting his members to the service that evening.  Returning to his church, the priest asked the organist to write the melody to the lyrics he had composed on his walk.  Sung for the first time at the service that evening, it was sung to guitar as the church organ was broken!

Christmas Trees

This tradition was borrowed from the non-Christian people of northern Europe and given a new meaning.  These people would bring evergreens into their homes during the winter months to remind them of the hope of the coming spring.

Christians adapted this custom and added that the evergreen symbolizes the everlasting life offered through belief in Jesus as our Savior.  Trees were set up on Christmas and decorated with lights (candles) to symbolize that Jesus was born on a beautiful, starry night in Bethlehem.  Tradition says that Martin Luther was the first to add lights to the decorated tree.

Creche or Manger Scene

Until the 13th century, those that celebrated Christmas generally overlooked the lowly conditions of Jesus’ birth.  In 1219, St. Francis of Assisi visited Bethlehem where he was struck by the simplicity of Christ’s birthplace.  He was dismayed by the contrast of Jesus’ humble beginnings and the lavish church celebrations of his birth.

St. Francis created a rustic stable scene for midnight mass on Christmas Eve 1223.  He used live animals and people portrayed Mary and Joseph, shepherds and the angels.

Stockings

Long before Christmas trees were a part of the common Christmas traditions, stockings were hung in anticipation of the arrival of St. Nicholas.  English immigrants brought this custom with them to America.

The original Christmas stockings that were hung were those worn for everyday apparel.  They were hung with the hopes of being filled with treats from the visit of St. Nick.

What traditions are a part of your Christmas celebrations?  What values are you communicating as you celebrate?  Perhaps you can lead your family or your friends in remembering the true reason for the season as you reflect upon some of these established traditions.     MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Leading Change – 2

Overcoming complacency and the desire to maintain the status quo is key to leading change.  John Kotter in his great book titled, “Leading Change” gives us the following reminders on creating a sense of urgency for change.

PUSHING UP THE URGENCY LEVEL
“Creating a strong sense of urgency usually demands bold or even risky actions that we normally associate with good leadership.  Bold means cleaning up the balance sheet and creating a huge loss for the quarter.  Or selling corporate headquarters and moving into a building that looks more like a battle command center.  Or telling all your businesses that they have twenty-four months to become first or second in their markets, with the penalty for failure being divestiture or closure.

“Never underestimate the magnitude of the forces that reinforce complacency and that help maintain the status quo.

“We don’t see these kinds of bold moves more often because people living in over-managed and under-led cultures are generally taught that such actions are not sensible.  If those executives have been associated with an organization for a long time, they might also fear that they will be blamed for creating the very problems they spotlight.  It is not a coincidence that transformations often start when a new person is placed in a key role, someone who does not have to defend his or her past actions.

“Bold moves that reduce complacency tend to increase conflict and to create anxiety, at least, at first.  If top management consists only of cautious managers, no one will push the urgency rate sufficiently high and a major transformation will never succeed.”

How’s your personal sense of urgency for bringing about change?  Is there an agreed upon sense for the need to bring significant change from those you are leading?  What needs to be addressed for you to get that sense of urgency embraced by many you are leading?

Leadership Jazz – 2

Max DePree in his great leadership book, “Leadership Jazz” has some excellent thoughts regarding a leader’s promises.

“Though I’m still learning things about being a leader, I can tell you at least two requirements of such a position:  The need to give one’s witness as a leader—to make your promises to the people who allow you to lead; and the necessity of carrying out your promises.

“Followers can’t afford leaders who make casual promises.  Someone is likely to take them seriously.

“For no leader has the luxury of making a promise in a vacuum.

“A leader who backs away from her promises under duress irreparably damages the organization and plants the seeds of suspicion among her followers.

“The best leaders promise only what’s worth defending.

“It’s important to understand that leadership is a posture of indebtedness.  The process of leading is the process of fulfilling commitments made both to persons and to the organization.

“Knowing what not to do is fully as important as knowing what to do.

“Remember to think of followers as volunteers.  Remember, too, that the goals of the organization are best met when the goals of people in the organization are met at the same time.

“Here are several questions that leaders should expect to hear.  The answers to these questions, you see, are some of the promises leaders will make.

  • What may I expect from you?
  • Can I achieve my own goals by following you?
  • Will I reach my potential by working with you?
  • Can I entrust my future to you?
  • Have you bothered to prepare yourself for leadership?
  • Are you ready to be ruthlessly honest?
  • Do you have the self-confidence and trust to let me do my job?
  • What do you believe?”

If you are a verbal processor you can unintentionally make promises that you never intended.  As a leader your words carry extra weight and your thoughts expressed are assumed to be decisions.  You did not intend your words as final, just talking and thinking aloud, but others remember and will quote you in the future.  Beware of communicating what to you are just thoughts in a process but others hear as final decisions.

Are you a faithful leader?  Are you faithful to your word?  Can you be counted on to do what you say you will do?

Reaching the Nations

Dawson Trotman said, “World vision is getting on your heart what has always been on God’s heart.”

Christ’s Great Commission commands us to make disciples of all the nations. By ‘nations’ we do not mean geo-political units on a map, but rather peoples. We see the world as the Lord does – peoples with common cultures, languages, and affinities. It is within these peoples that the gospel moves and spreads.

There are 78 unreached people groups within our own U.S. borders, requiring no visa to reach them and few government restrictions (see Joshua Project statistics for current U.S. and world opportunities).

Immigrants and refugees are pouring into our country at unheard of rates. And we know from history that when people are in transitions they are more open to the gospel.

International students are also coming to study on our campuses at unprecedented rates. They too are in times of change and thus are very receptive to new ideas and relationships. And when they return to their home of origin they become leaders and influencers for a lifetime. These too require no plane ride or language school experience to engage. But they do require a huge heart, sustained commitment, and great perseverance to see the gospel take root and bear fruit!

The world today still is 40% unreached (see Joshua Project data). There remains 6,600 unreached people groups totaling nearly 3 billion people. These peoples will be reached if someone leaves their home and intentionally crosses cultures to plant the gospel among them. The remaining groups are historically the most resistant to the gospel – those with Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist background. It will require long-term effort and much sacrifice for the gospel to go to these ‘nations.’

Our Lord said, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-20). Paul reminds us, “And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14). Are you praying for the nations to come to know Him?  Are you listening to how He would have of you to become the answer to your own prayer?

A Leader’s Optimism

General Colin Powell [Chairman (Ret.), Joint Chiefs of Staff] in his work, “A Leadership Primer” describes the following principle:

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

People and ‘smell’ a phony a mile away. A leader who is out of touch with reality, denying the obvious, or living in a fantasy is quickly dismissed.

But a leader who acknowledges the real challenges faced and sees a bigger solution is one who builds confidence in those they lead. Romans 8:31 says, “…If God is for us, then who can be against us?”

This was the situation Elisha faced when surrounded by an army whose mission it was to capture him. His servant could not see any resources available to deal with this real threat. Elisha however saw God’s resources and pointed his servant to the answer that was right in front of him. He said, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kgs 6:16)

A leader’s optimism and confidence is God will ripple into the hearts and minds of those around them. It will energize and inspire those who we follow to keep moving forward when we all feel like giving up because of the difficulties we face.

Likewise, pessimism and doubt from a leader is also multiplied as it ripples to those we lead. Those we lead do not necessarily have the experience, maturity, or understanding of the context that we do. Therefore they hear a discouraging word from us their leader and run to the end of their “what if” thinking, spiraling downward as they go. “Well, if this happens, then this… And then this….and this…” Those scenarios almost always are negative and leading us to thinking about the disaster that awaits us.

An optimistic leader is one whose confidence is in God and His resources, not is our own abilities or the resources that we can see. Being confident that God is with us and not forsake us is enough.

What’s the image you are projecting around you? Is is an optimistic tone and environment you are creating?

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