Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “leadership thinking”

With a Little Help from My Friends

As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. … They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.    Luke 19:29-30,35 NIV

It’s Sunday morning of the Passion Week and Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem. He comes riding on a young colt which has been obtained for Him by two of His disciples. Note what happens when they bring the colt to Jesus for His triumphal entry into the city. They put their cloaks on its back and then, they “…put Jesus on it.”

Jesus had to have some help from his friends in getting onto the back of the colt. Probably a hand up or maybe someone knelt, and He stepped on their back in order to get onto the back of the colt. Jesus had help in mounting the back of the colt. He accepted this help in getting the colt and in getting on.

For some Kingdom leaders, accepting the help of others is difficult. We tend to be the ones who are always helping others. To admit that there are times when we need others to help us or when offered, accept the help from others, can be challenging for some. Remember how Peter responded when Jesus came to him and wanted to wash his feet? We read in John 13:6-8 (NIV), “He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”  Peter then quickly changed his mind and willingly accepted Jesus’ act of service.

Why is it so difficult to accept other’s help? Perhaps it’s a sense of self-sufficiency rooted in our pride. It feels good to help others, but to be helped means I can’t do it alone. I need the resources of others and in accepting their help I admit that I’m not capable myself. Kingdom leaders like to use their leadership resources to bless and help others, but to be helped means I’m needy.  It can be a rude awakening to acknowledge that leaders too need the help of those they serve.

What needs do you have that you are not willing to admit?  What needs do you have that you are not willing to ask others for help with?  What needs do you have that others have offered help, but you are unwilling to accept their help?

Even Jesus needed a little help from His friends!

Even Tax Collectors!

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Luke 3:12-13 NIV

All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. Luke 7:29 NIV

If there ever was a despised group of people within the first century Jewish culture it was the tax collectors. They were often grouped with the ‘sinners’ – those Jews who had abandoned their Jewish faith and were living like Gentiles. Tax collectors were servants of the Roman Empire and in Palestine, they were often Jews who enforced the tax laws of the Empire upon their fellow countrymen. In addition, they were often very corrupt and oppressed their neighbors by collecting more taxes than the law required, keeping the balance for themselves. By serving the Romans and using their position for personal enrichment they became a despised group.

In His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the tax collectors as an example. “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Matthew 5:46 NIV Here again the tax collectors serve as an extreme example – even they love those who love them back. Certainly, if tax collectors can love others, you Kingdom people are called to a higher standard – to love your enemies.

Jesus selected Matthew (Levi) as one of His Twelve, the executive leadership team for His ministry. It’s hard to underestimate how radical this was for a Jewish rabbi to associate closely with a tax collector. Note that Jesus was questioned by the Jewish leaders as to why He would socialize with “tax collectors and sinners?” “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:15-17 NIV

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. … When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-2, 5-10 NIV

I wonder who the despised, “tax collectors and sinners” are today? Who are the sick that desperately need the healing touch of the Gospel? Who are those who the religious people would question why Kingdom leaders are associating with them?

As a Kingdom leader, are you nervous about what other leaders think?

Do you have a reputation you’re trying to protect?

Your Assumptions are Showing!

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith… Mark 6:5-6 NIV

Jesus had come home to Nazareth after an extended time away. Having launched His public ministry in Jerusalem and Judea, He had moved to Capernaum and large crowds followed Him, listening to His teaching and observing His many miracles. By this time His popularity had increased such that even King Herod had heard of Him (see Mark 6:14).

Now He came back to His boyhood home and gave to them the same opportunity the other villages of Judea and Galilee had received. He entered the synagogue at Nazareth and taught them about the Kingdom of God. Mark had already noted that when Jesus taught, He did not quote other rabbis as sources of authority as was the custom. Rather, He contrasted their thoughts with His own, claiming a greater authority. This caused questions and confusion among those who knew Him. “… and many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?'” (Mark 6:2 NIV)

These people had certain assumptions about Jesus (see Mark 6:3). He was a man who had grown up in their village like many other young men. He had brothers and sisters like many families. He had learned from His father the trade of carpentry and had worked among them as a carpenter. He had never received religious training to be a rabbi and yet here He was teaching others about the Kingdom of God and recruiting disciples. They had heard that He was performing all sorts of miracles and certainly the crowds that followed Him seemed to indicate something unusual about Him. But, their assumptions about Him blocked their faith and they took offense at Him. As a result He could not do any miracles among them, other than a few minor healings.  Why?

It was their assumptions that led to their unbelief and lack of faith in Him. They did not even bother to ask Him for help! Certainly, Jesus’ power was the same in Nazareth as elsewhere. But, their previous assumptions about Him did not allow them to even consider asking Him for help. No wonder Jesus was ‘amazed at their lack of faith!”

What assumptions about Jesus do you have that are negatively influencing your leadership? The opportunity for Jesus to show Himself strong on your behalf is extended, but will your assumptions about Him lead to unbelief and a lack of even bothering to ask for His help? He has stated that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. Will you even ask for His help?

“…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! 

Making Wise Personnel Decisions – 4

As you lead, personnel decisions will be the most time-consuming and challenging to make.  Most will be some shade of gray – not black and white and obvious. Below are some final thoughts related to making wise personnel decisions.

How do you fire someone?

For some Kingdom leaders it may come as a surprise that part of your job is not just to hire great people, but also to fire (out-place) some.  Ugghhh!  No leader likes to fire others.  It can be a stomach-turning experience. But, there are times when it is the best thing to do for the person and for the mission. 

In today’s litigious society, it is very wise to get counsel involved in any firing process. Experts in HR and labor laws should be in your circle of counsel. And make sure these resource people are in on any conversation early in the process.  These advisors know the legal ‘landmines’ to avoid when firing someone and other consequences that may result like severance packages, unemployment obligations, how to communicate the termination to staff and the public, etc. 

In particular, it is very important to document the process involved when terminating an employee (have a paper trail). Keep records of job descriptions, annual reviews, conversations had regarding work performance, emails, etc.  It should not be a surprise to the person being fired when they are asked to resign. 

After termination, questions may arise when we are asked by someone’s new, potential employer when they are doing a background check. What to say – legally and ethically should be examined. Or, after terminating an employee, we may find out that they are now serving in a different ministry that did not contact us or do a background check with us as to their employment history. Depending upon the reason for termination, we may have ethical choices to make on whether to talk to their new employer as to their history with us.

Terminating someone’s employment – whether it be for a sin issue (i.e. moral failure) or lack of doing what was agreed to or expected for the job – must be well-thought through.  What is communicated to team members, ministry members, financial donors and the general public needs to be examined by multiple parties.  There are certain legal issues that may constrain what can and cannot be said to these various audiences.  Don’t just “wing it!”

Don’t expect agreement on personnel decisions.  These are judgment calls and there are good reasons on all sides of any decision.  Ask the Holy Spirit’s help in these decisions and trust Him to lead you. 

And finally, remember – some personnel decisions may look bad in the short term, but long term are seen as wise.  Wisdom is known by its children!  Luke 7:35

Year End Reflection

What a year 2020 has been!!!!  As we end one and begin a new calendar year, it’s good to pause and reflect upon what was and what we hope will be.  It is through reflection that we can gain perspective and see more clearly the overarching, God-orchestrated, macro movements of our lives.

Leaders are often too busy to stop and reflect.  We always have more things to do and people to see.  We take one item off of the do-list and add three more!  Who has time to stop and think?

Today…..now is the time to stop and reflect upon who you are becoming and what you are doing!  Your personal diary, journal or devotional notebook can be of great help to you as you look back and observe themes or topics the Lord has been addressing in you.  Here are some questions to get you started in this reflection time.

Are you satisfied with your own personal spiritual walk and growth?  More importantly, is Jesus pleased with your pursuit of Him?  How’s your current pace of life?  Is it sustainable long-term?  Do you have a margin in your schedule?  Are you living and leading from an overflow?  How’s your family doing?  Are you paying the price to experience the marriage you committed to on your wedding day?  Are you investing deeply in your children and grandchildren, knowing that the years for significant influence are rapidly passing you by?

What fears are you trying to ignore related to your leadership?  Are you leading with faith and courage?  Are you more concerned about your reputation or God’s glory?  Is the vision of where you are leading to focused or foggy?  Do you have a team that is unified and empowered around a shared vision?  Are you making progress in the God-given mission that you intended to accomplish?

These and many more questions are helpful for taking stock of where you are today and where you intend to be/go tomorrow.  Use this season for reflection and refocus as you start a new year full of new hope and new beginnings.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.    Hebrews 12:1-2  NIV

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Giving Thanks

This week we in the U.S. celebrate our annual Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.  President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.

This year, ‘the year of crazy,’ one might think that we have less to be thankful for when compared to previous years.  Below are some passages that help my attitude and perspective on our current 2020 state of affairs, helping me again realize that I/we have much to give thanks for.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  ESV

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!    1 Chronicles 16:34  ESV

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.    Psalm 7:17  ESV

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.    Psalm 9:1  ESV

In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.    Psalm 44:8  ESV

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.    Psalm 79:13  ESV

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.    Psalm 86:12  ESV

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!    Psalm 97:12  ESV

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!  Give thanks to him; bless his name!    Psalm 100:4  ESV

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.    Psalm 103:11-14  ESV

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!    Psalm 107:1  ESV

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.    Psalm 118:28  ESV

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever.    Psalm 136:3 ESV

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!    Psalm 145:10  ESV

… 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

… a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.    Isaiah 42:3  ESV

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.    1 Corinthians 1:4  ESV

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.    Revelation 11:17  ESV

May your thanksgiving be a daily experience, and not an annual event!

Kingdom Leaders are Recruiters

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.    Mark 1:16-20 ESV

Jesus was regularly extending invitations to others to join with Him in His mission.  Some, like the two sets of brothers, said ‘yes,’ but others refused (see Mark 10:21-22).  He did not coerce, beg, or cajole.  He simply invited them to come with Him and engage in the greatest enterprise the world has ever known.

As Kingdom leaders we too are constantly inviting others to join with us in our God-given mission.  It main mean we ask them to ‘lay down their nets’ and join us vocationally.  It may also mean that we ask them to invest their money in our work.  It will most certainly mean that we recruit their intercession for us when they pray, bringing us before the throne of grace and fighting with us against our unseen foe.

Dr. Bobby Clinton says this about recruiting, “Effective leaders view leadership selection and development as a priority function in their ministry.  As they recruit they will be drawn to those who have embryonic qualities and traits like their own. They see in their recruits their own potential of years before. Here is [John] Maxwell’s context around the quote.

“Effective leaders are always on the lookout for good people. I think each of us carries around a mental list of what kind of people we would like to have in our organization.  Now, what will determine whether the people you want are the people you get, whether they will possess the qualities you desire? You may be surprised by the answer. Believe it or not, who you get is not determined by what you want. It’s determined by who you are.  In most situations, you draw people to you who possess the same qualities you do. That’s the Law of Magnetism: Who you are is who you attract.”

“So we as leaders have even more reason to work on our ‘beingness.’ Recruitment depends on our ‘beingness.’ Don’t forget, ministry flows out of being-even the ongoing business of challenging others into the battle.”

Don’t shrink back or be bashful about inviting others to join you in the greatest adventure the world has ever known!  Remember, “Like attracts like!”

Relating to Civil Authorities

We, who live in the United States, will soon be selecting our civil authorities as we carry out our citizenship responsibility to vote.  This year, our national and local elections have caused much turmoil and created anxiety in the hearts of many as we ponder the possible outcomes.

Below are some passages that guide me as I relate to the civil authorities over me.  My confidence is in Him, not in governments or civic leaders, for they too are all under His powerful hand.

Mark 12:14-17 (ESV)   And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion.  For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?  Should we pay them, or should we not?”  But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test?  Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”  And they brought one.  And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”  They said to him, “Caesar’s.”  Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  And they marveled at him.

Romans 13:1-7 (ESV)  Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.  Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.  Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

1 Peter 2:11-17 (ESV)  Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.  Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood.  Fear God. Honor the emperor.

May we all model a God-confidence and faith during these challenging days!

John Wycliffe and the English Bible

Oxford scholar and priest, John Wycliffe, translated the Bible into English in the 14th century, decades before the invention of the printing press in Europe.  His action helped birth the modern world as we know it and earned him the title, ‘the Reformation’s Morning Star.’

“During Wycliffe’s time, England was a three-tiered literary hierarchy.  Like the rest of Europe’s elites, England’s intellectual elite spoke Latin.  The Bible was their book… Church leaders, including Wycliffe, were a part of this exclusive club.  Below them were the nobility, who spoke French or its Anglo-Norman dialect.  They had some portions of the Scriptures available to them in their declining dialect.  At the bottom of the social ladder were the illiterate peasants, who spoke primitive English.  Hardly anyone thought of enlightening them… Most of Wycliffe’s contemporaries scorned the idea that the Bible could be translated into a rustic dialect like English…

“Some people ridicule the Protestant Reformers but relish the notion of human equality.  They do not know that the Reformers paid with their lives to make the biblical idea of equality a foundational principle of the modern world.  Today, we take it for granted that uplifting the downtrodden is a noble virtue.  In Wycliffe’s England, the idea of raising peasants to the status of aristocracy was abhorrent…

“… Wycliffe was a hero who disowned his class and sided with the ‘swine,’ the underdogs.  Why?  Not because he was trying to win a democratic election.  Democracy followed in his trail.  Rather, Wycliffe was following Moses, who ‘chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.’ [Hebrews 11:25]  He followed Jesus, who preached the good news to the poor. [Luke 4:14-21]  It was neither pursuit of career nor political correctness but commitment to truth that inspired Wycliffe to begin translating the Bible into English.  The same commitment empowered people to copy by hand that banned translation at the risk of their lives.  Even reading that translation required special permission, and anyone caught with a copy could be tried for heresy and burned at the stake.” *

Don’t take your English Bible (or any translation) for granted, for many have paid a great price to put that translation into your hands.

The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization by Vishal Mangalwadi, pages 145-147

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