Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “leader”

Modeling Humility as a Kingdom Leader

Humility is a powerful tool for influence when it emanates from the life of a leader.  Jesus was the perfect model for a leader who consistently demonstrated humility in a variety of situations.

Here’s some examples of Jesus’ choosing to humble Himself…

  1. He became a man and took the form of a servant  –  Philippians 2:5-11
  2. He submitted Himself to baptism by John the Baptist  –  Matthew 3:13-16
  3. He paid the temple tax even though a Son of the King  –  Matthew 17:24-27
  4. He submitted to the Father’s will for the cross  –  Mark 14:32-36

Humility is attractive when it’s genuine.  We can sense it in others when it is not genuine.  We can also pick up very quickly when someone is proud or simply pretending to be humble.

As the Lord will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8), leaders who do not lead with humility, but rather take credit themselves for their accomplishments, are in for a rude awakening.  The proud who don’t demonstrate humility are in for a tough lesson when the Lord finally runs out of patience and acts to humble them (see 1 Peter 5:5).

Nebuchadnezzar was one such leader who learned the lesson of humility through having God humble him.  After a long, painful process, he summarizes his journey with this pointed statement:   “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.  And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”  (Daniel 4:28-37)

We have this choice – to humble ourselves or to wait and have the Lord humble us.  Could I suggest that the former is preferable, for when God acts to humble the proud, it will be a very thorough, life-altering lesson.

What will you choose?

Wisdom or a Wisecrack?

How can you discern if you just heard or experienced something that was wise or was it just a wisecrack that had little value?  The cacophony of voices around us today make this discernment essential for Kingdom leaders.  But was it something that was clever or truly founded in God’s wisdom?  Many things sound right, but upon reflection or execution we discover that they were poorly conceived.  How do we sort truth from error?

In James 3:17 we find a list of characteristics of God’s wisdom.  These qualities can be used by us to help determine whether something is truly from the Lord or just an interesting idea.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 

These seven characteristics of God’s wisdom can serve as a filter or a measuring rod with which we can evaluate whether some decision or solution is truly from the Lord.  If it runs counter to these qualities, then we can assume that it is of the world and therefore needs to be either modified or rejected outright.

I’d suggest keeping this list close as all times.  Memorize it so that the Lord can bring it to mind when you are in the heat of decision-making or problem solving.  He will guide you through it.  “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

Wisdom or wisecrack?  You frequently need discernment from the Lord to know the difference.  Lead from the wisdom that comes down from heaven!

 

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?

Discrimination and the Kingdom

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.           Acts 2:42-46     NIV 1984

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.   Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”  This proposal pleased the whole group.        Acts 6:1-5a   NIV 1984

Bias is simply personal preference.  Prejudice is a prejudgment of a person or group.  Today it is often negative or critical, and is usually based upon stereotypes.  Prejudice is a strong bias or an opinion formed before encountering the facts.  If ones prejudice manifests itself in actions, it becomes discrimination.

You’ll note that the apostles encountered a situation among their community of regular discrimination.  The Greek speaking Jewish widows (now converts to Christ) were not being given their daily portion of food.  They were ‘overlooked’ by the Hebrew speaking Jewish believers who were responsible for the daily food distribution from the common ‘pot.’  This was not an oversight – ‘were being’ implies a continual action – day after day – intentional neglect.  This was pure discrimination!

Note that this happened in a community of believers who were sitting under the teaching of the apostles and experiencing many wonders and miraculous signs.  But even this amazing environment was not enough to overcome their long-held prejudice and enmity between Jew and Gentile.  Something else was needed to bring about the Kingdom change where all would be treated equitably.

Leadership (the Twelve) got involved in bringing about a needed correction.  They instructed the community to select seven men ‘full of the Spirit and wisdom’ to manage this daily distribution of food.  And note that the seven who were nominated and then finally approved by the Twelve, were all Greeks (at least they all had Greek names).  With these seven in charge the problem was solved.

Discrimination due to race, class, or culture is not of the Kingdom.  When Kingdom leaders encounter it, they must act to correct it.

As you think about your leadership, is there any sign of discrimination that needs your engagement?

Wisdom and Its Source

“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles.  He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace…. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.       Acts 7:9-10, 22     NIV  1984

Note the contrast between the wisdom of Joseph and the wisdom of Moses (up to the age of 40).

Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.  But having been shown his future destiny in two dreams as a 17-year-old young man, God’s plan for him was not frustrated.  In fact, the favor of the Lord was with Joseph, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances.  And it was God who gave Joseph wisdom (godly wisdom) that opened opportunities for him in Potiphar’s household, in prison, and finally with Pharaoh.

In contrast, Moses was educated in the best system of the day – the Egyptian education system – having grown up in Pharaoh’s household as an adopted son.  The result was that he was “powerful in speech and action” – a gifted, natural leader.  But all of his natural ability and education did not qualify him to lead God’s people by the age of 40.  The world’s wisdom was not enough in God’s eyes to qualify Moses to lead.  It would be 40 more years of preparation before the Lord would appear to him in the burning bush when he was finally ready, with God’s anointing, to lead.

Wisdom is easily understood as necessary for leadership – especially for Kingdom leaders who are constantly balancing seeking to please God and meeting the demands of the world.  But the wisdom needed for Kingdom leaders must come from God Himself.  Yes, a certain wisdom can be gained by learner’s hearts and through increased experience.  But, it is the wisdom that comes from the Lord that will bring the outcomes desired for Kingdom leaders.

This God-given wisdom can be asked for (see James 1:5) and the wonderful promise is that it will be given to all who ask.

So….are you asking?

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!

 

Leaders and Popularity

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips…  All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff… Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people.  They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority…  All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching?     Luke 4:22, 28–32, 36   NIV 1984

Two different towns – Nazareth and Capernaum, two different audiences, and two very different responses to Jesus’ leadership and authority.

In the synagogue in Nazareth, when Jesus was explaining a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 61 concerning the ministry of the Messiah, the prophecy concerning Himself, He proclaims that it was fulfilled that very day-right there in front of their eyes.  The audience was amazed at His gracious words.

Yet Jesus continued to explain that the favor of the Lord was not based upon one’s heritage, but rather one’s faith.  The mood of the audience quickly changed.  They became furious at Him, drove Him out-of-town and sought to physically harm him by throwing Him off of a cliff.  One can only imagine the feelings of the disciples with Jesus or even His family members as this was taking place?  Popularity can be fleeting.

Jesus seemingly shrugs it off and moves on to Capernaum, where the following week He is again teaching in the synagogue.  While we are not told about the subject matter, His teaching engenders a similar initial response.  The people were amazed at His teaching and the authority with which He delivered it.  But here they remained positive and in fact spread the news about Him to the surrounding area.

Jesus’ ministry did not change due to the audience.  He was consistent, not caring about His reputation or concerned about whether they would like Him or not.  Rather, He was committed to truth and teaching it well, letting the people decide for themselves whether to accept or reject the message.

This consistency created such a reputation that His enemies sought to use it against Him.  Note what they say about Him as they tried to trap Him with a question about paying taxes.  “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.”  ( Luke 20:21  NIV 1984)

Kingdom leaders consistently focus on truth, not on how well they are liked as leaders.  Do what it right and let God take care of your reputation and popularity.  How’s your focus?

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?

 

 

 

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