Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “leader development”

Prejudice and the Kingdom

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”  Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.  Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”  “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”  Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”                            John 1:43-49   (NIV 1984)

You’ll note from the above passage Nathanael’s response when Phillip says, “We have found the one..”  Nathanael’s prejudice is verbalized in his reply, “Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?”  In other words, those Nazarenes are not worth much in my opinion – especially considering that you are asking me, Phillip, to believe that the Messiah is from Nazareth!

Prejudice is a prejudgment of a person or group, usually based upon stereotypes.  It is a strong bias or an opinion formed before encountering the facts.  If ones prejudice manifests itself in actions it becomes discrimination.

Nathanael expresses his prejudice against the Nazarenes and is then confronted by a choice.  Phillip simply says to him, “Come and see.”  Fortunately, Nathanael does not allow his prejudice to overcome him.  He’s willing to investigate this one whom Phillip is so excited about.

When meeting Jesus face to face, Nathanael is told by Jesus that He saw him under the fig tree when Phillip invited him.  Immediately Nathanael’s prejudice is changed as he responds, ” Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

All of us have our own prejudices, some being more obvious than others.  If these prejudices are negative or critical towards others what hope is there for lasting change?  For Kingdom citizens we have the hope of a personal encounter with Jesus.

Just as Nathanael had his prejudice removed when he personally met Jesus, we too can have our own prejudices removed and permanently transformed.  There is hope for those of the Kingdom and that hope is found in meeting the Messiah.  He will reveal to us our true selves and with that will come the power, through the Holy Spirit, to put off our old self and put on the new.

Perhaps it may prove helpful to ask the Lord to show you any prejudices that you may be harboring.  And once revealed, ask Him to change you-removing the old and putting on the new Christlike one that He desires for you to be.

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!

 

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?

Knowing God

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Ephesians 1:17  (NIV 1984)

In his letter to the Ephesian believers, Paul mentions two things that he is praying for them.  He prays that the Lord will give them, “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.”  These two attributes are truly important for all believers, but they are also essential for Kingdom leaders who would hope to faithfully serve Him.

The ‘Spirit of wisdom’ is foundational for all good leadership.  The world recognizes the need for leaders to have wisdom, but their answer for wisdom is by gaining experience.  This can be personal experience gained over time or by studying the experiences of others.  While this can be of some benefit, it does not necessarily translate into the paradigm of Kingdom leadership.

That is why Paul prays for the “Spirit of wisdom” to be given to us.  Godly, Kingdom wisdom comes from above and is given to us by the Holy Spirit who indwells all followers of Jesus.  This wisdom from above may be counter-cultural and counter-intuitive from the world’s perspective.  But it will be perfectly aligned with God’s purposes for us and those we lead as we seek to follow Him.  This Kingdom wisdom teaches us the ways of God as opposed to the ways of men (see Exodus 33:12-13ff) and enables us to lead in such a way that is pleasing to Him.

The ‘Spirit of,,,revelation’ is also key for Kingdom leaders.  It means the bringing to light something previously hidden or unknown.  A Kingdom leader’s need to find root issues, causes, and see both the future intended and unintended consequences of their decisions is essential.  These things often cannot just be thought out.  We need insight from the Spirit within us to reveal that which is hidden, either through ignorance, lack of information, or just not being able to foresee far enough into the future.

The result of gaining both wisdom and revelation from God is  “… that you may know him better.”  It is this “knowing Him” that will bring blessing to our leadership and ensure that our outcomes are aligned with His overall purposes.

Are you asking for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to come upon you and those you lead?

A Leader’s Job Description

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…       Romans 1:1  ( NIV 1984)

In the opening passage of Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome he describes himself and his job (role, contribution).  This concise description can provide all Kingdom leaders with a template for our contribution as well.

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus…”  The word means “one owned by another” (bond slave, doulos) and describes a person in relationship to a master.  It is the same word used to describe Jesus in Philippians 2:7, “…taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Being a servant is a leader’s identity, not their activity.  This identity does not change, regardless of whether or not our role, title, or responsibility changes.  All who are followers of Jesus find our identity as servants of Him who bought and paid for us with His own blood on the cross.  Sometimes we have the privilege of expressing that servant identity in leading others.  But at other times, we may express that same servant identity by following someone else as they lead us.

Paul continues his own description, “…called to be an apostle…”  The word means “one who is sent out; a messenger sent with a message to deliver”  Here Paul begins to put a sharper point on his own personal job as he works out the specifics of his servant leadership.  He was to be an apostle to the Gentiles (the nations; the non-Jews).  This explanation was given at his conversion on the road to Damascus and was further clarified in a meeting with leadership in Jerusalem some years later (see Galatians 2).

Paul’s function was to be a pioneering messenger to the Gentiles, planting the good seed of the gospel among peoples (Gentiles) who did not have a Jewish background.   He laid foundations that others would come afterwards and build upon (see 1 Corinthians 3).  He knew his role and his personal function in light of the bigger goal of advancing the Kingdom and discipling the nations for Christ.

So too for any Kingdom leader; we must be very clear on our personal function that we bring.  It is a function that we, and only we, can and must do.  It’s more than just ‘lead.’  But, rather, what part of the overall leadership function do you do?  That’s strategic leadership at it’s best.

Are you clear on your identity and your strategic leadership activity?  What is it that you and only you can and must do, today, as you lead?

 

 

 

Finding Favor with God

    Blessed is the man who listens to me,
watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.

    For whoever finds me finds life
and receives favor from the LORD.

    But whoever fails to find me harms himself;
all who hate me love death.”

Proverbs 8:34-36  (NIV 84)

The context of the passage above is the pursuit of wisdom.  The author puts the pursuit of wisdom in the context of leadership in Proverbs 8:15-16.  It’s an easy argument to convince any Kingdom leader that they need wisdom from above.  The world would also agree on the need for leaders to have wisdom, but their source is through gaining more experience.  Kingdom leaders look to the Lord Himself to give them wisdom beyond their years and experience.

Note that verse 34 creates a sense of pursuit and anticipation as the leader waits upon the Lord.  This person is ‘waiting’ and ‘watching’ daily for the Lord to speak.  Their heart and mind is attuned to the Lord’s voice, knowing that He is the source of the wisdom they so need.

The result of this pursuit of wisdom of course, is that they find it (vs. 35).  Note that it is promised that we will receive wisdom if we ask for (pursue) it (James 1:5).

With leadership wisdom comes life and favor from God.  By ‘life’ we mean two things.  First, for the leader him/herself, it means that we thrive in our leadership, instead of just survive in this demanding responsibility.  Second, for our leadership, it means that those we lead prosper and are blessed by our leadership.

By ‘favor from the Lord’ we mean that we fulfill God’s purposes for us both personally and His desired outcomes for our leadership.  What leader does not want these two aspects as the legacy for their personal leadership?

Verse 36 is the countering reminder that those who do not pursue wisdom are foolish.  They suffer in their leadership and the outcome is death.  How tragic!

How’s your pursuit of wisdom?  Remember, the true source is the Lord Himself.  Spend daily time with Him and you will find life and favor from Him.

Living a Disciplined Life #2

Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God’s will as a young man, and God impressed upon his heart that his life would be spent for China.  He began to dedicate his life in preparation for fulfilling this calling.

“The study of Chinese, also, was entered upon with ardor.  A grammar of that formidable language would have cost more than twenty dollars and a dictionary at least seventy-five.  He could afford neither.  But with a copy of the Gospel of Luke in Chinese, by patiently comparing brief verses with their equivalent in English, he found out the meaning of more than six hundred characters.  These he learned and made into a dictionary of his own, carrying on at the same time other lines of study.

‘I have begun to get up at five in the morning [he wrote to his sister at school] and find it necessary to go to bed early.  I must study if I mean to go to China.  I am fully decided to go, and am making every reparation I can.  I intend to rub up my Latin, to learn Greek and the rudiments of Hebrew, and get as much general information as possible.  I need your prayers.’

“…’having now the twofold object in view [he recalled] of accustoming myself to endure hardness, and of economizing in order to help those among whom I was laboring in the Gospel, I soon found that I could live upon very much less than I has previously thought possible.  Butter, milk, and other luxuries I ceased to use, and found that by living mainly on oatmeal and rice, with occasional variations, a very small sum was sufficient for my needs.  In this way I had more than two-thirds of my income available for other purposes, and my experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.’” [i]

The prophet Jeremiah once complained to God about the difficulties in life he experienced.  God replied,  “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?  If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”    Jeremiah 12:5

God’s purpose in allowing those trying times was to prepare Jeremiah for his ministry in the future.  He had to endure these difficulties in order that he might be better prepared for the times ahead.

God’s training program is to discipline us for the purpose he has for us.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:  ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,  because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?  If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”                      Hebrews 12:5-11

The words ‘disciple’ and ‘discipline’ find there roots in the same word.  To follow Christ as His disciple means that we are called to disciplined living.  Disciplined living, like sacrificial living, is a daily choice

The heights of great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.           Wordsworth

[i]  Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret  by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press  Chicago, Illinois   p. 22-26

Living a Disciplined Life #1

The disciple of Jesus will find that following Him requires a life of discipline and focus.  Discipline does not mean drudgery, but it does mean saying “no” to good things in order that we might give ourselves to the best.  It is the choice between the good, better, and best that requires a will of steel.  We must focus on the goal for which we are called and dedicate ourselves to reaching that goal.

E. Stanley Jones, the great missionary-statesman to India, said, “Your capacity to say ‘no’ determines your capacity to say ‘yes’ to greater things.”  St. Augustine prayed three things for himself, “A heart of flame towards God, a heart of love towards men, and a heart of steel towards myself.”

If we are to follow hard after Christ; if we are to be used by Christ, we must prepare ourselves.  This preparation and training can be rigorous and stressful.  No champion athlete wins without rigorous training, and no champion for Christ will make an impact without paying the price of preparation.  It will mean disciplining our desires and bringing our bodies under control.  It will mean long hours of time alone with God and His Word.  The disciplined life will say to self, “Others may, I cannot.”  It will sense a destiny that requires the best we have to give.

Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God’s will as a young man, and God impressed upon his heart that his life would be spent for China.  “From that moment life was unified in one great purpose and prayer.  For Hudson Taylor was ‘not disobedient to the heavenly vision,’ and to him obedience to the will of God was a very practical matter.

“At once he began to prepare, as well as he could, for a life that would call for physical endurance.  He took more exercise in the open air, exchanged his feather bed for a hard mattress and was watchful not to be self-indulgent at table.  Instead of going to church twice on Sunday, he gave up the evening to visiting in the poorest parts of town, distributing tracts and holding cottage meetings.  In crowded lodging-house kitchens he became a welcome figure, and even on the race course his bright face and kindly words opened the way for many a straight message.  All this led to more Bible study and prayer, for he soon found that there is One and One alone who can make us ‘fishers of men.’ [i]

[i]  Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret  by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press  Chicago, Illinois   p. 22-26

The Look of a Mature Disciplemaking Ministry

A Mature Disciplemaking Ministry  –  Luke 6:13-19

Jesus is approximately one year into His 3+ years of public ministry when we read in Luke 6 that He spent the night in prayer.  While it is not unusual for Jesus to spend time alone in prayer with His Father, this prayer time preceded a significant shift in His work.  From here on He would have a leadership team that would consist of future leaders of the movement He would leave behind.  These 12 would now become His top priority in His ministry and we see that He completes this training of the 12 in John 17:1-6.  It is these leaders that ensure that spiritual generations of future leaders will emerge after He departs.

Jesus’ ministry as described in this one paragraph illustrates the three audiences found in a mature disciplemaking ministry and the three different functions that are addressed in these audiences.

The first audience is the Core leaders  –  Luke 6:13-16.  These are emerging leaders who will be the ‘golden thread’ for spiritual generations to come.  We Train these leaders in vision and skill for spiritual reproduction  –  helping them move to maturity and ability to reproduce their lives in others.

The second audience is the Large crowd of Disciples  –  Luke 6:17.  These are those we lead to Christ and those believers we find who want to pursue spiritual growth.   We Teach these disciples principles about being a Kingdom citizen –   helping them know and apply what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

The third audience was the Great number of people attracted to the movement, but lacking any commitment to it  –  Luke 6:17-19.  We  seek to Touch them in the name of Jesus.  Some we will simply contact – maybe a survey or simply testifying before them; while others we will deeply impact, even winning them to faith in Christ.

Three audiences in a mature disciplemaking ministry – Emerging Leaders, Disciples, and Great numbers of people on the journey.  We seek to Train, Teach, and Touch them for the sake of Christ and for His glory.

Spending a Half-Day with God #1

There are many important things that fill up our personal schedules each day.  These important tasks occupy our time and often other items that are much more important are neglected because of the pressure of the urgent.  Taking time to pray often is considered something good to do, if we have the time, but not something that is a necessity.  It is even more of a struggle, if we desire to take a half-day with the Lord for fellowship and prayer!

What is the purpose and what benefits can we expect if we take an extended time for prayer and fellowship with the Lord?  Listed below are some thoughts related to this question.

  1.  Spending extended time alone with God will deepen our relationship with Him. We will deepen the joy of our relationship with Him as we fellowship and worship Him.  As in all relationships, it takes time to get to know someone.  The Lord promises to especially attend to those who fear and honor Him (Malachi 3:16 and 2 Chronicles 16:9a).
  1. Leaving behind our daily routines and responsibilities will renew our perspective on life.  Especially when facing difficulties, we must get away and focus on the Lord, rather than on our problems.  Our attention is to be on the unseen, not the visible (2 Corinthians 4:18).
  1.  We are often frustrated in not praying enough for others.  Taking an extended time for prayer will enable us to spend quality time praying for the needs and concerns of our friends, relatives, those in authority over us, etc.  The power of prayer is evident as we take the time to intercede for others.  Many things can only be accomplished through prayer.
  1.  The busyness of our daily routines can sometimes cloud our future goals and direction in life.  Taking time alone with God can help us re-evaluate the direction of our lives.  During these times God can give a renewal for our current life path or re-direct.  When facing major decisions, such as career or location changes, we must take the time to seek God’s mind.  What does He want us to do?
  1.  Our busyness can also prevent us from thoroughly thinking through certain projects, goals or problems.  The Lord gave us the ability to think and reason.  Though we are not to depend on our reasoning only (Proverbs 3:5-6), we are still to use it!  Taking the time to think, without distractions, is a necessity as we face the complexities of modern life.

When was the last time you took some extended time with the Lord?  Is it time to put it on your calendar?

Post Navigation