Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Knowledge”

Kingdom Wisdom’s 7 Pillars – #2

In Proverbs 9:1 we read, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars” (NIV 1984).  What are the seven pillars found in the house of wisdom?

We find them listed for us in the previous chapter in Proverbs 8:12,14 (NIV 1984):  I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretionCounsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.  And note how verses 15 and 16 connect wisdom to leadership.

Common proverbs are created to capture some of the worldly wisdom based on experiences gathered over time. For example, “Look before you leap,” “A penny saved is a penny earned,” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” all catalog observed experiences. But they have no ability to determine right from wrong or good from bad; they simply operate on the assumption that results are good.

Information is a building block of the foundation of understanding and wisdom. Without knowledge (information), there is no understanding or wisdom. But knowledge alone will not help us lead a wise life that is pleasing to God. If we are not careful, much knowledge can lead to an elitist spirit, an “I’m better than you” attitude.

By contrast, Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” This fear is not terror or something that drives us away from the Lord. Rather, it is respect—a healthy awe and recognition that God is our Creator, the one with no beginning and no end, Alpha and Omega, King of kings and Lord of lords.  We are but dust whom He has breathed life into. Truth resides in Him and His Word, and therefore we focus our knowledge pursuit on knowing Him and His Word, with an eye toward applying it in God-pleasing ways.

The knowledge that leads to godly wisdom is rooted in knowing God from His Word. It is knowing Him personally—intimately. It flows out of a growing, dynamic love relationship with Him over a lifetime. This knowledge results from pursuing God, loving Him with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-38) and living a life pleasing to Him. It is the pursuit of God for the whole of life.

In his prayer for the Colossian believers, Paul asked God that they “may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Colossians 1:9-10).

Having knowledge helps us begin our journey to wisdom, but it is not the destination. Knowledge is desirable and good, but it is a contingent good—it is how we get to godly wisdom, the ultimate goal.

For more thoughts on leading with Kingdom wisdom:  Growing Kingdom Wisdom

Applying the Bible to Your Life

A great strength of The Navigators movement is the emphasis on the practical application of the bible to life and leadership.  As our former international director reminds us, “Lead from the bible and into the bible!”

It’s easy to get caught up in sharing our own thoughts, ideas, and experiences – thus forgetting to point those we are influencing to the Scriptures.  It is the good seed of the Word of God that will take root and bear fruit in the lives of those we serve.

HOW TO MAKE A  PERSONAL APPLICATION

Many of us are leading small group bible studies.  At the end of each bible study you will want to be sure to make a personal application.  This application must be specific, practical, and attainable.

As you do each study, mark verses that impress you or speak to your heart.  Then, when you are finished, review all the verses that you marked.  Choose the one verse that most impressed you and make your personal application from this verse.

A poor application would sound like, “I need to witness more.”  A better  application would sound like, “This week I am going to visit my neighbor and seek to share my testimony.”  Be sure that your application is specific enough to know if you have completed it or not.

Remember, we study the Word of God not only to add to our knowledge, but to become more like Jesus.  By making specific applications from each bible study, we are attempting to change our life and become transformed into the image of Christ.

Give careful consideration to your personal applications, for it is through these that you will be gaining maturity in Christ.

 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”   (James 1:22   NIV 1984)

The Basics are Basic #5

WORD OF GOD

 Memory Verse:

 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness             2 Timothy 3:16

Characteristics of God’s Word

 Psalm 19:7-11             The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.  The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.  The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.  By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 119:160            All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

Isaiah 8:20                  To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.

Isaiah 40:8                  The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.

Matthew 24:35          Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Hebrews 4:12             For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

2 Peter 1:20-21          Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Word of God, the Bible, is eternal, true and can be trusted.

Those who wrote the bible were guided by the Holy Spirit so that what was written was according to His will.  God’s Word is important to His children because it is His living, eternal, unchanging message to them.

II.     Why is the Word of God Important?

Psalm 119:105            Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:130            The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

Matthew 4:4              Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

John 15:3                    You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

Acts 20:32      “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

2 Timothy 3:16-17     All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

God’s Word is given so that we may know our Heavenly Father in an ever deeper and intimate way and how to live a life that is pleasing to Him.  By studying and applying His Word we will grow in our relationship with Him.

The Word of God is spiritual food for the believer.  As such, we must eat from this spiritual food daily through reading, studying, memorizing and meditating so that we may grow spiritually.

Becoming a Multiplying Leader

“Spiritual Generations.”  We’ve heard it many times. We’ve even had conferences with that title. It’s our heartbeat.

In a recent conversation with a younger staff, he asked me what I thought was unique about The Navigators’ ministry. He was trying to sort out in his mind our contribution as compared to other ministries. I answered that all ministries are about trying to help fulfill the Great Commission and expand God’s Kingdom. But that one of our unique contributions is the multiplication of spiritual laborers for the Kingdom harvest.

The objective of the Great Commission is making disciples of all the nations. But our (The Navigators) strategy to help fulfill this commission is the multiplication of spiritual laborers. A spiritual laborer is one who can do evangelism and follow up (establishing). This is someone who can make disciples of all the nations. By focusing on the need for more laborers (Matthew 9:35-38) we will make disciples and help fulfill the Great Commission, for laborers make disciples.

But even that explanation is incomplete. We are about the multiplication of spiritual laborers, not just increasing their numbers. Spiritual multiplication implies raising up laborers who will then in turn raise up other laborers, who will in turn do that to still more.  We are disciples first and then disciplemakers, who make more disciples and disciplemakers.

It is a multiplying effect, not just addition. It is one becoming 2, becoming 4, who become 8, and so on. It is exponential growth through spiritual generations. That is what we are about—spiritual multiplication through successive generations!

May God continue to lead you to men and women who will be “good seed” that will multiply 30, 60, and 100 fold!

Great Leadership Books

‘Of making many books there is not end…’ (Ecclesiastes 12:12).   Just enter any bookstore and look at the litany of leadership books filling the shelves.  I’m often asked to help leaders sort through the many and find the few best books on the subject of leadership.  Here’s my suggested list of foundational leadership books for someone who wants to get a good start on this challenging subject.  It’s a good start for building a leadership library.

Leadership Bibliography

Books to be read for a foundational understanding of leadership

 The Bible  –  read and study this Book first as your basis for understanding the principles of spiritual leadership;  this will be the grid through which you evaluate all other teaching on the subject of leadership

Leadership Concepts

   1.      Spiritual Leadership / Sanders

  2.      Leadership is an Art  /  DePree

  3.      Leadership Jazz  /  DePree

  4.      Leaders:  Strategies for Taking Charge  /  Benni & Nanus

  5.      Principle Centered Leadership  /  Covey

  6.      The Leadership Challenge  /  Kouzes and Posner

7.      The Making of a Leader /  Clinton

Leadership Practice

  1.      The Effective Executive / Drucker

  2.      Developing the Leader Within You  /  Maxwell

  3.      Developing the Leaders Around You  /  Maxwell

  4.      The Training of the Twelve  /  Bruce

  5.     Leading from the Sandbox   /  Addington

  6.     Leading Change  /  Kotter

7.     Biographies of great leaders  –  Dawson Trotman, Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, J.O Fraser, Adoniram Judson, Amy Carmichael, etc.

Don’t Chase Leadership Fads

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

“Fit no stereotypes.  Don’t chase the latest management fads.  The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.”

When one begins to focus on the subject of leadership you will notice that many are talking about the latest leadership book that they have read.  Through these conversations certain leadership phrases become part of our everyday vocabulary – “get the right people on the bus,” “you have to think systems,” “change management,”EQ,” “be proactive, instead of reactive” – the list is endless.

Now books and their contents are not necessarily bad (I write them myself), but it’s what we do with them that can make them helpful or harmful.  We leaders can get very excited about a new idea or concept from a recent book.  That quote or concept now becomes part of our everyday conversations and we spread that influence among those we lead or interact with indiscriminately.  But often we do so without any sense of context or without thinking carefully  about our audience.  It has been said, “When all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.”

A good leader stewards their influence wisely.  While we may be helped by some thought from a recent read, we should ask ourselves, “Will this truly help this person?  Is it appropriate for them or their leadership context?”  If not, then keep quiet!  Put yourself in their situation and ask yourself what do they need to hear from me that fits them and where they are in their context or stage of development.

Books come and go in their popularity.  Few stand the test of time.  Be careful not to be always chasing the latest leadership fads or what’s trendy.  You will miss the timeless truths and wisdom that comes from the Lord.  Yes, read leadership books and think about what you read.  Don’t just accept it because it’s in print.  Yes, read critically and compare what you read with the Bible.  The Bible is a kingdom leader’s primary textbook on leadership.

The Bible contains ageless leadership principles and wisdom.  The Bible is cross-cultural and cross-generational.  Always share thoughts and insights from God’s Word as the Holy Spirit helps you discern the need of those you are influencing.  Listen carefully to Him and He will guide you.

What have you been talking about recently.  Is it a recent fad or what’s popular?  Or have you been sharing with others God’s truths and His wisdom for leaders?

How Many Apples in the Seed?

The question is not how many seeds are in the apple, but rather how many apples are in the seed? It’s a matter of perspective and vision. Vision sees the potential of the multiple apples that can come from one seed that is planted and nurtured to the point of maturity. And not only that one apple tree from that one seed, but true vision sees orchards of apple trees that can come from a single seed given enough care and time.

Leaders with vision see the current reality and also the future reality that they are seeking to create. They see what is and what is not yet. The future that they see they see by faith knowing that unless God intervenes then it will not be realized.

Vision differs from dreams or fantasies. Vision can see how, by the grace and empowering of God, our current reality becomes the future. Dreams or fantasies hope for that future, but have no connection or pathway from the present to the hoped for future state.

Vision needs to be big enough to attract and recruit resources (people and money), but not so big that it is immediately dismissed by others who hear of it because it seems impossible, outlandish, or unattainable.

Vision casting is both an art and a science. What to share when talking of our vision is the science of vision casting. It must include enough information to answer anticipated questions before they are asked. It must not include so much detail that it bores those who are interested. How leaders share their vision for the future is an art in that sharing too much too soon can overwhelm some, while understating the vision can lack sufficient motivation or inspiration to attract the necessary resources.

Jesus cast vision when recruiting His initial four disciples – Andrew, Peter, James, and John. He had already spent a year with them (John 1-4) getting to know them and they getting to know Him. They had visited His home, seen him change water into wine, talk with a Samaritan woman at a well, and engage Nicodemus in conversation about eternal life. Now He comes to them and asks them to leave their vocation (fishing) and join Him. He lays out for them a vision of a future state. He says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:14ff).

Did these men fully understand this vision? Probably not. But they did have enough of a context and an understanding to make a very important decision. They left their home and vocation in order to pursue Jesus and this vision together.

How’s the clarity of your vision? Can you share it in such a way that it is clear, succinct, and compelling to others around you?

Foolish Leadership

It was Lorne Sanny who said, “Leaders bring vision, faith, and courage to coordinated effort.” There is a fine line between faith and foolishness and the consequences for one’s leadership can be devastating.

Leading out of foolishness has several origins. Foolish leaders lead out of presumption. They assume that since it worked before then it will work now. Or they assume that because God was with us in a similar endeavor before, then surely He will be with us in this current situation.

Foolish leadership plans and acts according to what is seen instead of what is unseen. We fix our eyes on the visible instead of trusting in the invisible God to guide and direct our leadership (see 2 Cor. 4:18). We plan according to known resources instead of seeking God’s will for us and then trusting Him to provide the resources needed to accomplish what He is asking us to do.

Foolish strategic plans do not have any faith goals or “stretch” that will require the hand of God in order to be accomplished. They look at needs and apply people to fill jobs instead of seeking to align people to best fit opportunities according to their God-given design.

Foolish leaders trust in themselves too much and want to control the outcomes of their leadership. Now control again is not bad in and of itself. But we must answer the question why do we want control. Is it to insure the best we can be for Jesus or is it so that I can insure that I look good to others or perhaps am on some kind of power trip and just want to “micro-manage” others.

Foolish leaders seek the approval of man. They want to be well thought of and liked by others. They do what is expedient for their career moves and cultivate relationships that will pay back dividends for their future.

Leaders who lead from faith can do many of the same things that a foolish leader does, so when viewed superficially they may seem similar. Leaders of faith lead out of presumption, but their presumption is that unless God intervenes and blessing then all of their leadership is of naught. They place themselves in dependent relationship to God as they lead, knowing how absolutely essential He is to their ability to lead well.

Leaders of faith also plan, but their strategies are held in an open hand letting God direct and guide them as He see fit. They plan according to faith, seeking to see what God sees for them in the time horizon they are planning for. They are not limited by what they have, for they trust Him to provide all that they need to finish the work He assigns.

Leaders of faith also want to have some control over outcomes, but this arises from a sense of stewardship of their leadership responsibility before God. They don’t micro-manage others out of a need for power or ego, but rather they set others up for success and trust them to accomplish what they have agreed to.

Finally, leaders of faith seek the approval of God, not man. Their reputation is entrusted to Him who placed them into their leadership role. Relationships are about what can be accomplished together for the glory of God, not what I can personally gain from them.

Foolish leadership or faith leadership…which one best describes yours?

Teams and Teamwork

Leadership Teams

 It is evident that no one individual has all that is necessary to bring the best leadership to any Kingdom enterprise.  Because no one leader can do everything well we must lead with a team.  My experience is that good teams are hard to come by, but when you experience one you will never forget it.  Remember, when talking about leadership and teams we mean a leader and his / her team, not team leadership.

Following are some additional thoughts related to teams and teamwork:

 New Testament Leadership Team Models

  1. Elder model
  2. Apostolic model  –  Jesus and his team    —   a training team
  3. Apostolic model  –  Paul and his team     —   a task/mission oriented team

Team:  a group of people who need each other in order to accomplish the task

Leadership Team Models in the Great Commission

             Apostolic                                     Elder

Go to the nations….               and            …teach them everything

Paul                                                                 Philemon  /  Archippus

mobile                                                             local

sodality                                                           modality

para-local church                                       local church

Team Synergy:  comes from group think concerning individual team member’s portfolio items and group work on specific tasks for a limited time

Team Leaders Must:           1.   Listen    2.  Learn   3.   Love    4.   Lead

 May God give you the special privilege of leading a team of other leaders!

Confronting or Conforming?

In Mark 2:21-22 Jesus responded to His critics as to why His disciples violated the culturally accepted way of doing things.  He said, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment.  If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.  And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”

With these two parables, Jesus explained that His Kingdom would not fit the cultural norms of the Jews.  His Kingdom would demand new forms and practices which were not contained in the Jewish cultural norms of the day.  As Kingdom leaders fulfill their mission they will introduce the Kingdom of God into a culture along with it will come new values and practices.  This is normal, good, and inevitable.  Change will come.  But, our desire is that the change will be rooted in biblical, Kingdom values and practices, and not Western, post-modern, or even the latest leadership guru’s best practices or values.

The guiding principle would seem to be this:  we should strive to make Jesus and the Bible the basis of our leadership and the only stumbling block if the message is to be challenged.

In instances where Kingdom values or practices violate the cultural values or norms, we must hold fast to the biblical truth and accept the resulting opposition.  This does not mean we should flaunt our convictions, especially if we know they are likely to cause adverse reactions.  We must be sensitive as we take our stand, so that the opposition we face is an opposition to Christ and the Kingdom, not to us.  This presents us with an opportunity to see God demonstrate His power and grace in spite of cultural barriers and push-back.

In areas where there is no clear biblical precedent, we should yield to the cultural norm so as not to cause an offense over a “side issue” (such as paying temple taxes or whether or not to celebrate certain holidays – see the previous two blogs).

All of these decisions will require wisdom from God.  Ask for it and you will receive it!

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.     James 1:5

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