Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Leadership development”

The Faith Walk Life

“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” … But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:6, 15-16 NIV

At Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus he saw a vision of the risen Lord Jesus. The vision was such that it literally blinded him for the next three days until the Lord sent Ananias to pray over and heal him.

After Paul’s blinding vision he was given a short-term assignment, “…get up and go into the city (Damascus) and wait to be told what you must do.” The vision and directions were very clear to Paul, but they were not long term. That would come much later. For now, he must get up from the ground and be led by his traveling companions into the city and wait. Wait for what? For more direction? Would he receive his sight again? What about his current ‘career?’ So many questions, so few answers!

This is the faith walk life. The Lord reminds us that, “His righteous ones will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17; 2 Corinthians 5:7). God sets before us a direction or path to begin to follow. We have enough clarity to begin to move, but little more. Our flesh cries out for more security – we want to see further, know more, and be assured of every step along the way. But God remains silent on the details. He does direct our paths as we trust Him (Proverbs 3:5-6), but it will be in His way and His timing. It is a walk by faith, not by sight!

Paul sat in Damascus for the next three days with not further clarity, no healing, and no further word from the Lord. From his perspective he had be left alone, forgotten by God. But we know that the Lord was at work. He was speaking to Ananias, convincing him to go to Paul and pray over him for healing. Three days of silence for Paul. Three days to convince Ananias that this was a good thing to go and heal the persecutor. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

Have you begun a journey of faith and now find yourself ‘stalled?’ The guidance from the Lord got you to this place, this time, this circumstance – but now, nothing. All is quiet. You’ve been patiently waiting for more direction from Him, but nothing has come. Your tempted to make something happen. At least do something rather than just sit and wait. Don’t do it! “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14 NIV

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. Proverbs 19:2 NIV 1984

Rescued from my Troubles

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 Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace. Acts 7:9-10 NIV

When reading about the life of Joseph we like the part about how God gave him wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh. We leaders really like the part where Pharaoh made Joseph “ruler over all Egypt and all his palace.” But we tend to ignore the process that God took Joseph through to get the ‘good part.’ He was sold as a slave by his brothers, falsely accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife, forgotten in prison by those he helped, and then finally released and honored by Pharaoh.

Note that God did not prevent the troubles from coming upon Joseph. But He did rescue him from all his troubles, not just some of them. It’s similar to the end of life. Almost all want to go to heaven, but few want to die to get there! We like the end, not the process.

I would assume that a part of the wisdom that Joseph was given was perspective. We don’t see Joseph complaining about his terrible circumstances. His destiny revealed to him as a 17 year old in two dreams was finally brought into reality as a 40 year old when his brothers were bowing down before him asking for food to feed their families. God will give you His perspective on your troubles if you ask Him.

Many Kingdom leaders are surprised when troubles overtake them – as if something strange has happened. Yet, a study of the Scriptures shows over and over again that those who would live (and lead) like Christ will have difficulties. These troubles are not necessarily God’s discipline or a consequence of our disobedience. Rather, they are trials that the Lord allows to further His purposes in and through us.

He does not promise to keep these trials and tribulations away from us. But He does promise to never leave us or forsake us. He promises that no temptation shall be too much for us without Him providing the way of escape. Trust Him! Persevere! Set your face like a flint!

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:7 NIV

God’s Favor on your Leadership

[ David ] …who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Acts 7:46-47

David, the man after God’s own heart, enjoyed the favor of God on his leadership. He saw God fulfill his destiny when as a teen he was anointed by Samuel and declared to be the king after Saul. He refused to take the kingship by force, waiting upon God to fulfill what He had promised through Samuel. He saw the Lord deliver him multiple times from Saul’s plots to kill him. He saw God open doors of sanctuary among his enemies and spare him from having to fight against Saul. The tabernacle built by Moses was now under his control and he desired to build a permanent home for the place where God met with His leaders.

All of these instances and others not recounted showed God’s favor towards David. With Joseph we saw God’s favor was manifested in the midst of many life trials. With David we see God’s favor in opening multiple doors of blessing and opportunity. It appears that David presumed he would also be the one to build the permanent temple for God instead of the ‘temporary’ (mobile) tabernacle. But it was not to be. David was told that it would be his son, his successor, who would build the temple for God. How surprising! How disappointing!

David was not given the opportunity to construct the temple in Jerusalem that would become God’s ‘tent of meeting’ where the visible presence of God would dwell. It would be another. David made the plans and acquired the materials, but it was left to Solomon to execute the plan and build the temple. Even though David ‘enjoyed God’s favor there were still limits to what God permitted him to accomplish.

How about you? You may sense God’s hand upon you and your leadership, but that does not mean that everything you desire will receive God’s blessing. God has purposes and ways that are not ours. And we are to submit to Him and His plans, not just assume and expect Him to ‘rubber stamp’ all of our leadership initiatives. Even though we have seen His favor in other areas, there may be some where He says ‘no,’ this is not for you to execute.

It is how we respond when God says ‘no’ that reveals our hearts. Do we wave our raised fist against God and demand He grant our desires? Or are we more clever and think that we can somehow maneuver things to make it happen without His favor? Or, do we humbly submit our desires to His plans and ways, trusting that His ways are right and perfect?

It’s a matter of the heart. How’s yours?

We Left All

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” Luke 18:28 NIV

A very wealthy man had just walked away from Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. He went away sad for he was very wealthy. Jesus lamented about how difficult it is for those with much to enter the Kingdom of God. This comment stirred Peter’s response. “We have left everything…” he said.

Note that Jesus did not correct Peter’s statement about having left everything, for they certainly had. For the previous two years the Twelve had left their professions to be trained as apostles who would carry the leadership of the movement Jesus started. They had left family, friends, spouses (at least we know Peter was married), physical security, and all that was familiar to their previous lifestyle to be His disciples. Yes, they had left all.

But contrast this with what Jesus instructs them about provision on the evening of the Last Supper. In Luke 22:35-36 we read, “Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Wait! What? Why would Jesus affirm “leaving all” in one context and now He instructs them to get your ‘stuff’ together and go well provisioned?

With the rich young ruler it was not a matter of how much ‘stuff’ he had. Rather it was his heart’s attitude about his ‘stuff.’ His wealth has a central position in his heart and Jesus pointed this out by challenging him to leave it all and follow Him. The Twelve had previously demonstrated that Jesus was central in their hearts (Judas being the exception). Thus, they were instructed to gather, not divest. It was a heart issue, not a materials issue.

As Kingdom leaders we must continually self-examine our heart’s relationship to our ‘stuff.’ It’s easy to fall in love with your ‘stuff’ and move Jesus from His rightful spot on the throne of our life to the margin. How’s your heart today? What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about your relationship to your ‘stuff’?

Waiting for God’s Power and Timing

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. … And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Luke 13:10-12, 16 ESV

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue and in the crowd was this crippled woman. We note that her infirmity was spiritually caused as Jesus says about her, “whom Satan bound for eighteen years.” This spiritual bondage manifested in some form a back disability that prevented her from standing up straight. Let’s make some observations from this event and apply these to Kingdom leading.

  1. We note that the woman was called out from the crowd by Jesus. Amazingly, it does not seem that she was seeking healing that day. Yes, He knows what we have need of before we ask! So walk with God today, listen carefully for His voice, and should He ask you to come to Him, move quickly.
  2. We observe that she was called out in front of the others at the synagogue and her healing became a public discussion on whether it was right to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus used her infirmity to teach a very important lesson to the hypocritical synagogue ruler and others present. As you obey Jesus, He may put you on ‘public display’ as an object lesson to others of His power and greatness. Don’t shrink back from the attention He brings.
  3. We also see that the healing was instantaneous when He laid His hands on her. Yes, it was an immediate healing, but she had been suffering for 18 years! God’s timing is not ours. And if you are waiting for the power of God to be displayed in your life and leadership, don’t lose hope if it is a long time coming. God’s delays do not mean God’s denials!
  4. Finally we observe that after her miraculous healing “she glorified God.” This was her public testimony to the wonderful work of God in her. As God shows His favor and demonstrates His wonder-working power in your life and leadership, you will have opportunity to glorify Him for His goodness to you. Be careful that the glory stays upon Him and be bold in sharing with others His amazing grace as manifested in your life and leadership.

Is there some challenge or difficulty that you are waiting for the Lord to show His great power? Has it been so long in coming that perhaps you have even stopped asking? Don’t lose hope! Though God is never in a hurry, He is always on time! Trust Him!

Alignment – 2

A primary part of leading is aligning resources towards our agreed upon missional outcome. Because resources are limited and opportunity is seemingly unlimited, we must say ‘no’ to some things in order to align our limited resources to best opportunity to accomplish our mission. Below are some thoughts from Navigators staff, Paul Stanley on the important topic of alignment – part 2.

To illustrate alignment, let us look at it in several different contexts:

Alignment in a Team:  Alignment would mean that the members of the team are functioning as a whole. Each member would share a common vision and the individual capacities of the members would be aligned with the vision to create what the members truly desired. The members would be motivated to develop their talents so that their contribution would be greater and increase the desired results . The members would learn to work together, and the more they did alignment would increase. When alignment breaks down, the efforts of the members are partially dispersed rather that harmonized. An unaligned team is like the scattered, incoherent light of a light bulb rather than the “coherent” light of a laser.

Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline) observed that “…in an aligned team, there is commonality of purpose, a shared vision, and understanding of how to complement one another’s efforts. Individuals do not sacrifice their personal interests to the larger team vision; rather, the shared vision becomes an extension of their personal visions. In fact, alignment is the necessary condition before empowering the individual will empower the team.”

When in alignment, all four automobile tires are pointed in the exact same direction and provide a stable, consistent tide to the passengers. The tires complement one another’s’ performance. But, when the tires are not in alignment energy and rubber are lost and the ride is unstable.

Alignment in an Organization: Alignment would be achieved when the people within the organization, the ministries, the structures and systems and organizational processes are in line with the organization’s Vision, Calling and Values. Alignment would be recognized by the degree to which the organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values match the way the people who are part of the organization are living, relating, and ministering.

Gaining alignment in an organization is a leadership function. It is an ongoing task. Alignment is not to be confused with conformity, rather it is encouraging diversity but focusing and aligning it at the same time. Empowering individuals in an unaligned organization creates chaos, dissipates energy, and makes leading difficult, while the opposite is true in one that is well aligned. When we empowering part of an aligned organization we empower the whole.

Alignment is not a new concept for many leaders, but naming it helps us recognize whether we have it or not. In an unpredictable and rapidly changing environment in which we lead and minister, alignment becomes vital for keeping stability and maximizing our individual and group capacity for fulfilling our mission in a lost and struggling world.

Are you aligned?

Coming Alongside Another Leader – 2

For many leaders, the presence of a wiser, more experienced leader who can come alongside and help them not only survive but thrive in their current labors for Christ is immensely helpful. 

So who would function well in this alongsider type role?  From my experience, those who are fruitful in this type of role have several characteristics.  First and foremost, they are mature in their walk with the Lord.  Being old in the Lord does not necessarily mean that we are mature in the Lord.  There are many who are older who are not mature.  And there are many younger in age who are wise and mature beyond their experience. 

A second essential for those who would serve as an ‘alongsider’ is that they must know their Bibles well.  They must have saturated their lives with the Scriptures to such an extent that they can illustrate the ways of God seen throughout the Word, not just quote one or two of their favorite texts. 

A third quality of a fruitful alongsider is that they are excellent listeners.  They would rather here one word from those they serve than ‘pontificate’ 1000 words of their own.  They show a genuine interest in the lives and well-being of those they help, having a holistic interest in all areas of their lives, not just the spiritual components. 

The final quality needed for serving well as an ‘alongsider’ is that of demonstrated self-control.  Note how Jesus introduces the above passage concerning the functions of the Holy Spirit.  In John 16:12 NLT He says, “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.”  Jesus had to hold back some of the things He desired to tell the disciples because they were not ready to receive it.  Jesus demonstrated great self-control in what, how, and when He shared with those He discipled and trained.  We would do well to follow His example. 

For those given the opportunity to come alongside others, helping them not just survive, but truly thrive in their season of life and in their labors for Christ, it is a great privilege.  May we not take this privilege as a ‘right’ to be demanded or expected, but a privilege to be received with humility and grace as we point others to Jesus and His Word.  He is the answer! 

Coming Alongside Another Leader – 1

For many leaders, the presence of a wiser, more experienced leader who can come alongside and help them not only survive but thrive in their current labors for Christ is immensely helpful.  What does an ‘alongsider’ do and who best qualifies to serve in this capacity?

In John 16 Jesus describes the role and function of the Holy Spirit – the Paraclete – who would come alongside of believers after Jesus was gone.  He says in John 16:13-15 (NIV):  “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” [italics added]  These three alongsider functions of the Spirit can help those of us who seek to come alongside others to mentor, coach, equip, and help them.

The first function Jesus mentions is that of ‘guiding.’  The Spirit guides believers to truth.  In our post-modern world, those we help desperately need to be able to discern truth from error, fact from fiction.  They must be reminded of our second Core Value – The truth and sufficiency of the Scriptures for the whole of life.  The Bible is sufficient for equipping us to labor for a life-time!  We will want to not only help them understand the Word, but also help them apply it to their lives. 

The second function Jesus mentions is one of ‘speaking.’  But note that this is not just any speaking.  It is speaking only what the Spirit hears from Jesus.  As we mentor and equip others we want to be very careful to speak what the Word says, pointing them to the authority of the Scriptures for our laboring in life and practice.  It can be tempting to add our own thoughts to the simplicity and clarity of the Word, especially with an eager listener.  James reminds us that those who teach others will be held to a higher standard – both by men and God when He evaluates our service (James 3:1; Hebrews 13:7).  This sobering reminder should give us pause before we add our own thoughts. 

Having said this, one strength of having experience and maturity in the Lord is that we can illustrate from our own lives and ministries how the Lord helped us or others when we are in similar circumstances.  Just be careful how much you ‘share’ for the Spirit is very capable of communicating all that Jesus says with or without our help!  Be slow to speak and quick to listen! 

The third function of the Spirit Jesus mentions is that of ‘glorifying.’  We see that He specifically glorifies Jesus and not Himself.  This is so very important that we also point others to the reality that Jesus will never leave them, always be faithful to them, and give them all they need to accomplish all He desires in and through them.  Jesus IS the answer!

Prayer – Opening Your Heart

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:35-36 ESV

Does God always answer our prayers?  Yes, but sometimes His answer is “No.”  Even Jesus, the Son of God, was told “no” by His Father when He asked not to be crucified (Luke 22:41-44)!  God always listens, He always answers, but there are times when His better way is that we don’t receive what we request.

God listens to our hearts not our words when we pray.  Prayer is sharing our heart, our thoughts, and our feelings with our Father in heaven.  Prayer is being real, open, and transparent in our communication with God.  As we talk with God, we can tell Him how we really feel.  He can take it! We can ask Him for big things – impossible things. He’s not overwhelmed or stressed out by our great requests. He can handle whatever we bring up.

  • What promises does God make in the following passages to those who pray? — John 14:12-14; 1 John 5:14-15
  • In the following verses, what conditions are mentioned for answered prayer? —  Matthew 6:5-15; James 4:3

Questions to ponder:  Why do you think God takes a long time to answer some prayers?

Passages for further study: Mark 11:22-24; Luke 18:1-8

The Cost of Discipleship

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 NIV

Salvation is a free gift, but following Christ will cost everything!  We begin by giving up our rights (deny self).  We give up the right to determine our own future and let Jesus determine it for us.  We give up the right to a comfortable, peaceful, self-determined life and give Jesus the right to use and place us as He sees best for furthering His purposes.

He not only calls us to deny ourselves, but to die to self (take up our cross) daily.  Each day and every moment of each day we must choose to live for Jesus instead of self.  Each day we strive to please Him and not people.  Following and obeying Him is our passion.  We live for Him and Him alone, playing our life to an audience of One — seeking to end our lives by hearing Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

  • What does Jesus say in the following passages it will cost to follow Him? — Matthew 8:18-22; Luke 14:25-33
  • What do the following verses say is involved in dying to self? — John 12:24-26; Romans 12:1-2

Question to ponder:  What is keeping you from unreservedly and wholeheartedly following Jesus?

Passages for further study: Mark 10:28-31; Philippians 3:7-11

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