Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “leader development”

Leadership Envy

The disciples of John the Baptist saw a problem.  Many of those involved in John’s ministry were now leaving him and going to be with Jesus.  Note their concern as expressed to John, “They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan–the one you testified about–look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (John 3:26 NIV)

With the decreasing crowd size, John could have been intimidated or discouraged with Jesus’ growing ministry, if he found his identity in his ministry and its ‘success’ measured in numbers.  But his response showed clearly that his identity was anchored in being the Lord’s servant and in doing His will regardless of ministry results – many or few.  John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. … He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:27, 30 ESV)

Kingdom leadership envy, jealousy, comparison – feeling better than or less than others, competitive spirit, or bitterness because of another’s ministry success can all emerge if we are not settled in our own calling, contribution, identity, and gifting.   When others (especially peers) seem to ‘succeed’ while we languish or struggle, these feelings can emerge, take root in our hearts, and ruin us.  It is for the Lord’s glory that we labor, not our own!

Below are some reminders on the topic that can be of help in keeping the right perspective.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”  (Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.  For who sees anything different in you?  What do you have that you did not receive?  If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?  (1 Corinthians 4:6-7 ESV)

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  (Matthew 25:14-15 ESV)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  (Romans 12:3 NIV)

Is there someone you are ‘secretly’ in competition with?  Is there someone you are comparing yourself to?  Are you envious of another’s success?

Repent!!!

Why Are You So Afraid?

Fear is a God-given emotion that has the benefit of protecting us from potential threats.  Only God does not know fear, for nothing is a threat to Him.  To be afraid of something is not sin.  But fear can become sin if we let it control us.  So, when Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid,” He is not suggesting that we ignore our fears.  That would be impossible.  But He is saying that we are not to be controlled by fear, rather, act in faith – faith in Him who knows no fear!

In the gospel of Mark, we find these references to fearful situations that the disciples faced.  Reflect on the circumstances of each incident that created the fear response.

Mark 4:40 ESV     He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  –  fear for physical safety

Mark 6:50 ESV      …for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  –  fear from a very unusual experience

Mark 9:32 ESV      But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.  –  fear of being thought of as stupid or incompetent

Mark 10:32 ESV     And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him…  –  fear of possible death from persecution

Mark 16:8 ESV     And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  –  fear of other’s opinions

Kingdom leaders face fear daily.  Nothing new here.  The only question we must answer is how do we respond?  Does our fear control us and dictate our actions?  Do we look to our own resources to deal with our perceived threat?  Or do we use these situations to remind us of our need for help from the Lord and the empowerment that can come only from Him?

We are not talking about putting on some ‘brave front’ or false bravado.  It’s OK to acknowledge whatever threat we encounter.  Foolishness denies the reality.  But faith names the threat and calls upon the Lord to help.  He has promised never to leave or forsake us.  He has promised to answer when we cry for His help.

… and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.   Psalm 50:15 ESV

What are you afraid of today?  Call for His help!

Leading from an Overflow

Kingdom leaders must have a personal depth in their relationship with the Lord Jesus from which they are able to lead and serve others. It is this abiding relationship, being attached to Jesus the vine, that allows us to lead in ways that honor Him.  Jesus said in John 15:5 (ESV), “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” 

I primary way that we can build our relationship with Jesus is through meeting Him in His Word.  Regular, daily input from the Bible will allow us to sink our roots deeply into Him.  It is not an academic exercise that we pursue as we read and study His Word.  Rather, we desire to pursue the author of the Word, seeing our time in the Scriptures as a means to an end, not an end in itself.

One of my favorite means of Bible intake is simply reading the Bible.  I’ve found that it profoundly impacts my life and leadership as I take in larger portions of His Word through reading, asking the Holy Spirit to give me understanding and application from what I read. 

Some years ago I developed a Bible reading plan for reading the entire New Testament through in a month.  Not speed reading, nor stopping to cross-reference thoughts or do individual word studies.  Simply reading the text, letting it enter my mind, heart and soul as I read and seek understanding and application from it.  Below is a New Testament reading plan that in 30 minutes a day will allow you to read the entire New Testament in a month.  Should I miss a day in my reading, I’m not bound by some legalism to try and read twice as much the next day.  For my goal is not the amount I read, but meeting with the Author of the book. 

  NT Reading Program

 One-Month Reading Plan

   30 Minutes a Day

DAY

READ

1

Matthew 1-8

2

Matthew 9-15

3

Matthew 16-22

4

Matthew 23-28

5

Mark 1-6

6

Mark 7-12

7

Mark 13 – Luke 2

8

Luke 3-7

9

Luke 8-12

10

Luke 13-19

11

Luke 20-24

12

John 1-7

13

John 8-13

14

John 14-21

15

Acts 1-7

16

Acts 8-13

17

Acts 14-20

18

Acts 21-28

19

Romans 1-8

20

Romans 9-16

21

1 Corinthians 1-11

22

1 Corinthians 12 – 2 Cor. 7

23

2 Corinthians 8 – Galatians

24

Ephesians – Philippians

25

Colossians – 2 Thessalonians

26

1 Timothy – Philemon

27

Hebrews 1-11

28

Hebrews 12 – 1 Peter

29

2 Peter – Jude

30

Revelation 1-11

31

Revelation 12-22

“Leaders are readers.”   J.O. Sanders 

 

A Kingdom Leader’s Life

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.  Hebrews 6:12 NIV

Many have gone before us, modeling a life of surrender and commitment to obey the Lord wholeheartedly.  Here the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to imitate their lives; lives that demonstrate three qualities of a surrendered life.

They first model a life full of faith – a life that trusts God and His Word.  They trust His purposes when it makes sense or not; when it feels good, or not; and when supported by others or asked to stand alone against the cultural tide.   

Secondly, they model a life that patiently waits upon God to do what only He can do.  They are not passive in their patience, but they only act as He directs.  They rest in the assurance that He knows their circumstances and will, in His perfect time and His perfect way, demonstrate His power to do above and beyond what we can ask or imagine.

Finally, these models of the surrendered life inherit what God has promised.  They take God at His Word and align their lives to His promises.  Through faith and patience (perseverance), they receive what He promises, knowing His Word is backed by His unchanging character and that nothing is impossible for Him.  They pray over His promises with an expectancy that He will do just as He promised. 

Pray that we would model faith, patience and trust in the promises of God as found in His Word, encouraging others to imitate our surrendered life. 

Pray that God would raise up a new generation of surrendered followers of Jesus whose lives demonstrate the power of God to fulfill His promises.

Pray over the Scriptural promises God has given you, asking Him to do just as He promised. 

“You do not have because you do not ask God.”   James 4:2  NIV

He’s Out of His Mind!

Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:20-21 ESV

Jesus grew up the son of a carpenter who had little rabbinical training and yet at the age of 30, having been baptized by John the Baptist, was now acting very much like a Jewish rabbi. He had begun recruiting personal disciples to follow Him. He was gathering large crowds and teaching them about the Kingdom of God. He taught them with authority, contrasting what He said, with what was said by other rabbis. “You have heard it said… but I say…” People marveled at His teaching, saying that He spoke with authority.

He had begun performing miracles – healing the physically sick and curing the demonized of their spiritual sickness as well. He demonstrated His authority over both the physical and spiritual worlds. These acts of power and authority astounded those around Him. And as His popularity grew, news of these things traveled back to Nazareth to His family.

One would hope that His mother, knowing of His immaculate conception and having had a personal conversation with the angel, Gabriel, would have understood what was happening. But, thirty years had passed and perhaps she was now being influenced by her other sons (Joseph having died).

And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:31-35 ESV

We don’t know what the interaction was between Jesus and His family members that day, but we do know that He did not stop His ministry and return to Nazareth with them. And we do know that after His resurrection His family had come to believe in Him. His family was with the other disciples in Jerusalem praying. “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Acts 1:14 ESV

There may be times when the Lord’s calling on us goes contrary to the wishes of our family. Should this be the case, those who would be followers of Jesus are instructed to obey Him (see Luke 14:25-33). We would hope that family would be supportive as we pursue God, but if not, we can know that even Jesus had similar experiences and He will see us through. He is enough!

Seek His approval rather than the approval of others! 

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? 

 

Making Wise Personnel Decisions -1

For Kingdom leaders, personnel decisions can be the most time-consuming and challenging of all the decisions you make.  The complexity of these decisions is due to the many considerations involved:  What’s best for the strategic mission?, What’s best for the person / their family?, What’s the best timing for this decision?, What are the short-term and long-term implications for both the person and the mission?, etc.  It may seem like you never have all the information you want or need when you have to make the final decision.

Below are some guiding principles and ideas on how to make wise personnel hiring decisions.

Keys for hiring the right people 

  1. Know, believe and be convinced that the Lord will provide all the resources you need to accomplish all that He is asking you to do – including any personnel needs that you may have.
  2. Have a clearly defined role – job description that you are seeking to fill.  Even for entry level positions it will help in recruiting if you have a well-thought through job description (in writing) that you can show to potential candidates with details of their responsibilities and opportunities / benefits.
  3. For Kingdom leaders, our recruiting must include the candidate’s personal calling and the  alignment of their calling to our ministry – mission.  Because of the nature of Kingdom work and the sacrifices asked (i.e. a pay scale often not commensurate with marketplace pay), we want to recruit and hire those who the Lord is calling to join us. This is not just a job that people are being asked to do.  Rather, it is a God-given mission and we are asking people to ‘leave their nets’ and join us in its fulfillment.  It will cost them much to engage with us, but Jesus promises to provide for those who serve Him.  Mark 10:29-30
  4. If they join us just to meet a need, because of the adventure of mission, to co-labor with their friends or some other reason than being called by God, they will soon find reasons to doubt their acceptance of the role.  The costs they will be asked to pay or future challenging and difficult experiences (failures) they may experience will quickly lead to second-guessing their decision to join with us.  This coupled with the enemy sowing seeds of doubt in their hearts and minds will lead them to quit.
  5. Having a clear sense of God’s calling will help us persevere in the difficult times, knowing that the Lord has led us here and He will never forsake us or abandon us.  Rather, He will strengthen us and see us through as we take refuge in Him.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10  ESV

Fire Casts No Shadow

 

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.   Hebrews 12:28-29  ESV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17  ESV

It’s amazing that a pure flame will not cast a shadow unless it is contaminated with soot or smoke.  Because the living God is pure and holy, there is no shadow of change within Him.  His purity is immutable and this reality brings great security and hope for all Kingdom people. The holiness of God and His unchanging character cause us to fall at His feet and worship Him with reverence and awe!

Kingdom leaders are His ambassadors who also reflect the light of God that shines into the darkness John 1:4-5 (ESV) says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  As His agents we too must strive to reflect the purity of God in our thoughts and deeds.

Paul describes his pursuit of this goal in Acts 24:16 (NIV) – “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” He was concerned about his conscience before God first, but also with regards to what others may think or even accuse him of.  Again when discussing his handling of a monetary gift for the poor, he says, “We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21 NIV)  Note the two-fold aspect of his actions – doing what is right before God first, but also seeking to be above reproach before others.

In 1 Timothy 3:2 (ESV) we read that one of the qualifications for the selection of Kingdom leaders: “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach…” That is, they are not to have anything in their lives that can cast as shadow or disparage the King or the Kingdom. They are to be pure and holy for they represent a Holy God.

May we too pursue this same goal in our lives and leadership – seeking to be above reproach; seeking to please both God and people, for He is worthy!

 

Fig Tree Prayer Lessons

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  Mark 11:20-25 ESV

When Jesus cursed the fig tree after not finding any fruit on it, His disciples took note (see Mark 11:12-14).  Upon passing by the tree the following day, Peter draws everyone’s attention to the withered tree. Jesus used the opportunity to instruct them in some key principles of prayer.

1. Jesus begins the fig tree lesson with a reminder that the object of their prayer of faith is God Himself.  It is God who answers and moves mountains, not our faith.  We just need have the faith to ask!  Jesus did not say, “Have faith!” – but rather, “Have faith in God!”

2. He goes on to remind us that we must bring our requests before the Lord.  We must ask! Jesus assumes that we will ask specifically – “Lord, move this mountain!”  While this may seem obvious, James rebukes us with, “…You do not have, because you do not ask.”  James 4:2 ESV

3. Jesus now instructs His followers that when making our petitions we are not to doubt in our heart that God will answer.  This does not mean that we have to self-brainwash ourselves trying to remove all doubt.  But the exhortation is to avoid a type of doubt that says, “I know this is a waste of time, but just in case, I’ll make my request.”  That type of praying sees the act of prayer as a kind of good luck charm or perfunctory act.  God is not honored with such requests.

4.  Next Jesus reminds us that instead of doubting, we are to believe in our heart that our prayers will be granted.  Even more, He says, we are to believe that we have already received the answer.  This is an attitude of expectancy from the Lord based upon His promises, faithfulness, love and generosity towards us. It is rooted in the reality, “… If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Romans 8:31 ESV

5. Lastly, Jesus states that unresolved conflicts and a failure to forgive those who have wronged us will hinder our prayers.  The Holy Spirit will remind us as we pray of those who we are to forgive. (see Matthew 5:23-24 and 1 Peter 3:19)

Certainly Jesus had much more to say about the subject of prayer (see Matthew 6 and Luke 11) .  But it is important to note that during the last week of His public ministry, He taught His followers about prayer as illustrated by a withered fig tree.

 

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

Kingdom Leaders and the Word

Study it through, Pray it in, Live it out, Pass it on.       Leighton Ford

Jesus reminds us that it is the seed of the Word of God the Kingdom worker plants that springs forth in the life soil of an individual (Mark 4:14).  Peter reminds us that we have been born again by the seed of the Word of God –  “… since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…” 1 Peter 1:23 ESV

A mark of a Kingdom leader is that they saturate their life and leadership with the Scriptures.  Not in a proof text, Post-it note kind of way – “Ooops, I’d better add a verse to this so that it sounds more spiritual.”  Rather, they have so embedded themselves in the Word of God that it naturally flows from them as they live and lead others to accomplish mission for the glory of God.

Note in the above quote that the first three steps regarding saturating our life and leadership with the Bible are internally focused.  We study the Word, not in a purely academic sense, but rather, with an eye towards applying it to ourselves and then to others.

Next we pray over the Scriptures with a meditative, contemplative attitude, expecting God to speak to us personally.  He will speak to our current situations and challenges, directing our paths and helping us sort out His voices from the cacophony that that surrounds us.  In Isaiah 30:21 (ESV) He promises, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

Next in the ministry of the Word is that we have to apply it to ourselves before we share it with others.  It was Howard Hendricks who said, “If it does not work at ‘home,’ don’t export it!”  Hypocrisy is by definition not living what you instruct others to be or do and Jesus had much to say about hypocrites – none of it positive!

Lastly, having studied, prayed and personally applied the Word, we now share it with others.  We align our leadership with God’s ways and seek to bring glory to Him, knowing that we will give an account for our actions at the end of our days. Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” And James gives Kingdom leaders this sobering reminder, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1 ESV)

Thus, we do humbly serve the King and seek to advance His Kingdom by honoring His Word in our life and leadership.  Are you seeking to saturate your life with the Word?  Are you pursuing knowing Him and abiding in Him by meeting Him daily in the Scriptures?

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