Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “leader”

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?

 

 

 

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.

The – What to Do If – Notebook

Leaders rarely plan for their sudden death, often leaving their personal and professional affairs in a mess.  Part of good, strategic leadership is thinking and planning ahead for the unexpected or untimely.  Good stewardship of your responsibilities, both personal and professional, means preparing for a transition should something happen to you unexpectedly.  Let’s examine the personal aspect first.

It is extremely helpful if you collect all the important, vital documents and information in one centralized place and that your spouse knows where this is located with easy access.  I placed my info in a “What to Do If” notebook.  Should something happen to me – plane crash, car accident, heart attack, etc.) my wife knows where to go to help her sort through the myriad of decisions that she will be facing.  Here’s some of the items in my notebook.

1.  Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney – make sure it’s up to date; you may want to include your wishes for the funeral or memorial service and the disposal of your remains; these are copies as the originals are kept in the safe deposit box

2.  Computer and Hard Drive/Cloud Backup access  –  passwords and PINs

3.  Financial Records – banking, credit cards, investments; account numbers, websites, phone numbers, passwords; safe deposit box access and inventory of box

3.  Life Insurance Policies  –  amounts on policies and contact information for filing a claim; you may even list suggestions on what to do with the payouts

4.  Other Assets  –  any other asset of value; properties, collections, antiques (consider designating the distribution of particular items, especially family heirlooms)

5.  Memberships, Warranties, Maintenance Agreements – location and type of memberships and warranties for household items or autos

6.  Monthly Bills  –  what bills are due monthly, quarterly, annually and how to pay them

7.  Personal Records  –  birth certificates, passports, marriage certificate  –  location of files

I collected all of the above information into one notebook – the What to Do If notebook.  Should my wife get word of my death, she knows where to go for guidance.  I collected the most important details in a two page executive summary at the beginning of the notebook and the rest is filled with copies of statements, records, etc. for her to reference, if needed.

We have talked over the contents of the notebook together to clarify any questions she may have.  I also asked my oldest son to review the notebook with both of us, so that he can lend objective support in executing the details after I’m gone.

Loving care and good stewardship means we plan for the unexpected and help prepare a way forward for those we leave behind.  Seek to make it as easy as possible for them.  Taking the initiative and planning ahead means you really do care!

Where’s your notebook?  Does your spouse know where it is?

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)

Leading into Ethnic Diversity

It does not take a “rocket scientist” to see that our world today is experiencing one of the greatest migrations of peoples in history.  All over the world large populations of people are leaving their homelands for the hope of a better future.  With the rapidly increasing ethnic diversity in our own country, if we don’t become more ethnically diverse, we will find ourselves marginalized with a ministry to a shrinking number of people.  The demographic sand is shifting beneath our feet!  We must adapt or die!

These changing demographics will demand new approaches, thinking, materials and a different kind of laborer.  The laborers needed to reach across these ethnic differences will have to be people who are flexible, able to adapt, and ones who are comfortable with differences.  Their watchword will be, “Not wrong, just different.”

Jesus’ disciples thought it strange that He, a Jewish rabbi, would associate with a Samaritan woman. Jesus demonstrated courage and a willingness to be misunderstood. He took risks and moved out of Jewish comfort zone to touch this one.  We will have to be and do the same as we follow Him into an increasingly ethnically diverse audience.

This will not be easy.  Change is never easy.  All people are most comfortable with those who are like us.  But Jesus modeled an incarnational model where he adapted and adjusted to humankind in order to fulfill the will of His Father.  We can do no less because we are called to imitate Him.

May God use you to plant good seed that will multiply many times over in the lives of those who are ethnically different from you.  May He give you wisdom to lead into increasingly ethnically diverse contexts that demand a willingness to leave the old behind and embrace the new, for His glory!

Acting Locally, Thinking Globally

World vision has always been at the heart of our work. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, at the peak of the national collegiate ministry renewal (The Jesus Movement), we sent many staff around the world. Dana and I had the privilege of being one of those sent. But, with the decline of the collegiate work in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, our vision necessarily turned inward. We now had to focus on solidifying our sending base and regaining the needed momentum at home in order to be able to once again send to the world. Though never lost, world vision was not emphasized as we sought to rebuild at home.

When we regained momentum at home, we can once again move the topic of “world vision” to the “front page” nationally. God continues to bless us with many new staff and laborers. But this blessing is not an end in itself. We are blessed that we might be a blessing to others. That was the word the Lord gave to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 when He said, “I will bless you…and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.”

God’s heart has been and always will be for the whole world. We see this theme throughout the Scriptures. Take a moment and reflect on the consistency of God’s heart for the world in the following passages: Gen. 12:1-3, Isa. 49:6, Mat. 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, and Rev. 7:9. “For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son…”

Isa. 49:6 reminds us that it is too small of a vision to focus only locally. God’s burden is for the entire world and we are to pursue that end also. As we begin to see God multiply our people, making them as numerous as sheep (see Ezekiel 36:37-38), we will want to see many of those He gives us sent to the nations.

One last thought on sending to the world. Let’s remember that there is no “higher good” in crossing an ocean to serve God. Geography does not determine value in God’s service. It is equally valuable in God’s economy to reach, disciple, and equip the ‘nations within’ the U.S. as well as some foreign country. Those that go are no more “committed” or “better” that those who stay.

We all make our strategic contribution for “making disciples in all the nations.” We just do it in different geographical locations around the globe. Some people God gifts and calls for serving cross-culturally. Others are better designed by God to serve within their home culture. All are valuable! All are strategic! All are important!

Beginning at our Jerusalem, may God bless us to reach our Judea’s and Samaria’s and the ends of the earth!

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