Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Knowledge”

J.O. Sanders

J.O. Sanders spoke to The Navigators’ Indonesian staff at our annual conference in September 1986 in Central Java.  I had the privilege of accompanying him afterwards across Java to insure that he arrived at his next destination in good order.  This time at the conference and the personal time with him afterwards was one of the highlights of my entire 11 years in Indonesia.

Here are some of the notes I gathered as a result of that time together:

  1. You must pay for a spiritual ministry.  It is paid for a little at a time throughout life.  When you stop paying, the ministry stops.
  2. Leadership trials all leaders face:  appetite, avarice (desire for things), and ambition
  3. God prepares the ministry for the person and the person for the ministry.
  4. The Lord does not always explain Himself.    John 13:7
  5. The word “leader” is only used 6x’s in New Testament.
  6. To see if you are a leader check and see who is following.
  7. Spirituality alone does not make a good leader.
  8. A leader leads in vision and faith.  Joshua got the vision for Jericho, but had to communicate the vision and faith to the people of Israel.
  9. Leaders set the tone by their example.
  10. Watch your life and doctrine closely – notice the order!   1 Timothy 4:11-16
  11. Maturity is the fullness of Christ.    Ephesians 4:13
  12. Becoming mature (Matthew 5:48) as the Father is ‘perfect’ is used in a relative sense.  That is, we are to be mature for our stage of spiritual growth, not mature in an absolute sense.
  13. We are as close to God as we choose to be.     Exodus 33:13,17
  14. Maturity is measured by the fruit of the Spirit, not the gifts of the Spirit.
  15. Gifts can be counterfeited, but fruit can’t.
  16. Tests of a Person’s Maturity
  • Seeks the glory of God more than their own glory or advancement
  • Prefer holiness instead of happiness
  • Desire solid food, not milk from the Word
  • Prefer serving others rather than being served
  • Prefer giving rather than receiving
  • Will be fruitful rather than barren (fruitful in character and in service)
  • Will be joyous rather than gloomy
  • Will accept rather than refuse the discipline of God
  • Will accept responsibility in the service of God

The Life-long Learner

Nothing so stifles a leader as an attitude of, “I already know that” or “Yes, I mastered that some time ago.”  This attitude of “I’ve arrived” has its roots in pride and destroys one’s ability lead effectively.

God does not take the sin of arrogance lightly.  Three times (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5) He says that He opposes (actively works against) the proud person.  We will learn humility, either by humbling ourselves or having God humble us.  The choice is ours as to the means.

The learning leader is humble enough to admit that one never arrives.  Yes, we may gain altitude in some areas, but it’s all relative.  Altitude compared to what or whom is what’s important.  Comparing ourselves to others often leaves us feeling good about ourselves.  But comparing ourselves to Christ should quickly remind us of how far we have to go.  Look up, not around!

Good leaders are learners.  They are not learned in the eyes of the world necessarily (Luke 10:21, 1 Corinthians 1:26), but they are ever striving to develop in areas of character, skills, and abilities; seeking to maximize their potential impact and  for Christ.  They set the pace for others in their personal pursuit of God and their service for Him, always sensing how far they need to go, not how far they’ve come.

From where do leaders learn?  There are multiple sources, but let me suggest two.  One primary source for learning is from those who are older.  Job 8:8-9 says, “Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing.”  From what older person are you mining their years of experience and wisdom?

A second important source for a leader’s learning is from observing what goes on around us.  In Proverbs 24:32 we read, “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.”  Rushing from one thing to the next greatly hinders the learning one can do from observing.  We must take the time to stop, think and reflect.  When was the last time you just took some extended time to think about life, your family, your ministry or some other important issue?

Learning leaders are also passing on what they learn to others.  Jesus and Paul modeled this well.   Jesus learned and passed it on to his friends, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).  Paul says to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others”( 2 Timothy 2:2).  Are you passing along what you are learning?  Who looks to you for coaching, mentoring or discipling help?

Maintaining a learning mode throughout life continually increases our effectiveness for Christ as leaders.  But what we learn is not for us only.  We can use it to help others.  Let others benefit from the things God is teaching you.  Perhaps we should begin by sharing more with our friends, spouses, and children.

Becoming a Wise Leader – #1

Becoming a leader who is wise is a noble pursuit.  The complexity of leadership demands wisdom from above.  But where to begin?  How will I know if I’ve attained it?

It would seem that the place to begin is with the definition of terms.  As we study the book of Proverbs (the book on the subject of wisdom), it becomes apparent that there are three words used frequently in connection to each other.  These three are:  knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.  For a long time I searched for good definitions on these words and their interrelatedness, but was not able to discover it until a few years ago.  Here’s what I currently understand them to mean and how they relate.

Knowledge is the accumulation of facts.  It is the foundation from which understanding and wisdom arise.  There is much knowledge in the world and today, and with the Internet, we have access to amazing resources for accumulating vast amounts of knowledge.  Our challenge is how to keep from being overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge now available and how to search it and categorize it well, so that it becomes useful for us.  Knowledge is helpful (especially for Trivial Pursuit games), but it alone will not help us in leading a life that is pleasing to God.  An example of knowledge (facts) would be:  We know that water is made up of two elements, hydrogen and oxygen.  A water molecule is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

Understanding is the ability to see the interconnectedness and relationships between a series of seemingly unrelated facts (knowledge).  Once one has gathered a variety of knowledge, these facts must be connected in our minds to give us understanding of how things work or how they impact each other.  Scientific research seeks to demonstrate this through repeatable experiments that demonstrate the relationship of various elements.  Once this is shown to be repeatable, we arrive at understanding.  For example, when we combine heat and water, we know that the water will boil at 212º F.  By combining the facts we know about water and heat, we understand that by turning on a stove and applying heat to the bottom of the pan of water, it will boil at 212º F, given enough heat and time.

Wisdom is the application of knowledge and understanding to life.  All wisdom is a gift from God that allows humans to live lives that are pleasing to Him.  All humans have the ability to understand wisdom on some level.  There is “common wisdom” and then, “spiritual wisdom.”  All have access to common wisdom, but only those who have the Holy Spirit living within will have the ability to understand the deeper things of God and what I refer to as spiritual wisdom.  This type of wisdom must be pursued, it just doesn’t happen by experience.  We can ask for it (James 1:5) and it will be given to us by God.  This wisdom is the secret to life and is the key to success in the eyes of God (I’m defining success as living a life pleasing to God).  We can always grow in wisdom, for we are learning about God Himself, who is infinite, and therefore we will never exhaust the source of this wisdom.

An example of common wisdom is this, following our example above.  I know and understand that water boils when heated on a stove and also that if I touch it, I will be burned.  Then, if I’m in the kitchen heating some water, I decide not to put my hand in the pan of water when I see it bubbling.  That would be a very wise decision!

Spiritual wisdom springs from the knowledge of God, His character, and His Word.  This spiritual knowledge leads to spiritual understanding on how God works – the ways of God.  And spiritual wisdom is the application of our knowledge of God and His ways into our daily decisions.  It is this spiritual wisdom that God gives to Kingdom leaders to help us accomplish His purposes in us and through our leadership.  We will continue this discussion next week.

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