Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Leadership”

Helping Others Understand

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” …  Do you still not understand?  Don’t you remember … But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.    Matthew 16:5-12   NIV 1984

The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”  …  Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.    Matthew 17:10-13  NIV 1984

Jesus had multiple times where the Twelve were slow to grasp the meaning of His teaching or their experiences with Him.  He demonstrates amazing patience as they struggle to really understand the meaning of all that was happening.  Sometimes we can see what appears to be a chiding of them or a mild exhortation (“How will you understand any parable?”), but he does wait for them to come to a fuller grasp of the subject.  He does not ‘spoon feed’ them; they have to exercise their own thought process.

In the first example in Matthew 16 the statement from Jesus was about avoiding the yeast of the Pharisees.  Having just come from two miracles of feeding thousands, the context seemed to dictate the subject of literal bread.  This was compounded by the fact that they did have any bread to eat, having forgotten it before they got on board.  So they concluded, perhaps He meant, “When we get off, don’t go purchasing any yeast from certain types of religious bread dealers?”

Note that when Jesus queried them about both miracles they accurately repeated the facts of their experience.  They knew how many were fed and how much was left over.  Though they knew the facts they did not understand the meaning.  After some further reflection, they understood the true meaning was to avoid the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The second instance begins with a question from the disciples about a prophecy regarding the coming of ‘Elijah’ before the coming of the Messiah.  They were growing in their understanding the Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, but then who was this ‘Elijah’ that was to come before Him?  With a little explanation, they came to understand that it was John the Baptist.  Note that Jesus did not tell them this plainly who it was, they had to deduce it from his explanation.

Sometimes those we lead require a little more help from us to ensure that they truly grasp what they are hearing or experiencing.  Don’t assume that just because they know the details that they truly understand the meaning.

Are you discerning or assuming that those around you understand?

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

                                                                    Luke 24:45  NIV 1984

Striving for Generations of Laborers

… the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.                        Colossians 1:26-29

Paul worked with everything he had to help others come to know Christ and grow to maturity in Him.  This type of spiritual laboring was incredibly consuming and exhausting.

A mark of physical maturity is the ability to reproduce.  And so it is for spiritual maturity.  As we grow up in Christ we mature to the point of being able to reproduce more followers of Him.  It is a natural result of growth both physically and spiritually.

But many followers of Christ never reproduce their faith.  They are stunted or never reach spiritual maturity.  Having obtained the ‘fire insurance policy,’ they rest in the assurance of its personal protection without sharing their faith with others.

Paul exhorted Timothy to pass along what he had obtained to others to the second and third spiritual generation.  “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”  (2 Timothy 2:1-2)

Spiritual generations of those who are mature in Christ to the point of spiritual reproduction – that is the legacy of our spiritual lives.  Just as we leave a physical legacy, so too we must aim for a spiritual legacy.  We seek to leave behind men and women who walk with God and who reproduce their faith into the next and following generations.

What’s the legacy that you are leaving?

Your Reactions are Showing

Sometimes that click you hear under your foot really is a landmine!

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.                     Colossians 4:5-6  NIV 1984

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…    1 Peter 3:15   NIV 1984

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.    Ephesians 5:15-16   NIV 1984

How many times have you done or said something that you think immediately afterwards – Oh, no!  Ooops!   Wish I could rewind that tape!  Thinking before you speak or act is a mark of maturity and self-control.  It is a sign of Kingdom wisdom.

The authority that leaders carry by position or reputation can leave behind wreckage in the lives of many if we are not careful in how we act or speak.  While we have the right to have thoughts and opinions about all things, it is not wise to share or act upon them without first realizing the potential impact on those around us.  You will be imitated and quoted!

I’m not talking about political correctness here.  There are times when Kingdom leaders must stand for what is right and go against the cultural tide.  What I’m referring to are the unfiltered, knee-jerk responses that unintentionally wound others simply because we don’t stop to think before we act or speak.  Someone put it this way, “Your reactions are showing!”

Paul’s exhortations to us in the passages above are to, “be wise,” “be prepared,” and “be very careful” with respect to our speech and actions, especially as we relate to an unbelieving world.  We would do well to heed these reminders.

How are your recent interactions with others – family, team members, or outsiders?

Are your reactions showing?

 

 

 

It Is Well With My Soul

Horatio Spafford had known peaceful and happy days as a successful attorney in Chicago.  He was the father of four daughters, an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and a loyal friend and supporter of D. L. Moody and other evangelical leaders of his day.  Then, a series of calamities began, starting with the great Chicago fire of 1871 which wiped out the family’s extensive real estate investments.  When Mr. Moody and his music associate, Ira Sankey, left for Great Britain for an evangelistic campaign, Spafford decided to lift the spirits of his family by taking them on a vacation to Europe.  He also planned to assist in the Moody-Sankey meetings there.

In November, 1873, Spafford was detained by urgent business, but he sent his wife and four daughters as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Harve, planning to join them soon.  Halfway across the Atlantic, the ship was struck by an English vessel and sank in 12 minutes.  All four of the Spafford daughters—Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie—were among the 226 who drowned.  Mrs. Spafford was among the few who were miraculously saved.

Horatio Spafford stood hour after hour on the deck of the ship carrying him to rejoin his sorrowing wife in Cardiff, Wales.  When the ship passed the approximate place where his precious daughters had drowned, Spafford received sustaining comfort from God that enabled him to write, “When sorrows like sea billows roll … It is well with my soul.”  What a picture of our hope! [1]

Author:            Horatio G. Spafford
Composer:      Philip P. Bliss
Tune:                Ville Du Havre (Bliss)

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like the sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
‘It is well with my soul.’

Tho’ Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious tho’t!—
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
‘Even so,’ it is well with my soul.

Chorus              It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Yes…. it is well with my soul!  How is your soul state today?

[1] Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (p. 202). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

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?

Kingdom Hierarchy

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.   1 Thes. 5:12-13  NIV 1984

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.       Hebrews 13:17   NIV 1984

The Apostle Paul and the author of Hebrews both recognized the leadership hierarchy and corresponding authority in the Kingdom.  Whether is was a local assembly (Ephesus) or a scattering of believers (Hebrews audience) there were leaders in place who were tasked with shepherding the flocks entrusted to their care.

The Ephesians are instructed to be sure to treat their leadership with respect and hold them in highest regard in love.  The final note to live at peace with each other assumes that we will not always agree with our leadership and their decisions.  Whether we agree or not, we are still to respect and hold in highest regard those over us in the Lord.

The audience of the Hebrews letter got an even more pointed exhortation.  They were told to obey their leaders and submit to their authority.  Note the assumption that to disobey or rebel against spiritual leadership (see v. 7) could be a common mistake.  The reason for submitting to and obeying spiritual leadership is that it is for our own advantage.  If their leadership of us is a joy rather than a burden, the resulting actions and decisions will be to bless rather than burden us.  Would you rather be led with a carrot or a stick?

We are to honor and hold in highest regard our spiritual leaders “because of their work.”  Kingdom leadership is voluntary and those who serve in these roles do so out of obedience to Christ’s personal calling.  It only takes a short time after accepting any leadership role before the realities and responsibilities of the job outnumber any preconceived advantages.  Leadership is hard work!

So, how’s your attitude toward your spiritual leaders?  Are you submitting to their authority?  Are you treating them with respect?  Are you holding them in high regard because of their work?

Focus for Impact

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”  Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demon.  Mark 1:35–39   NIV  1984

Jesus had some early recruits in the two sets of brothers who were fishing partners in Capernaum.  They had been with him off and on for about a year now, and life was about to take a major shift for all of them.  Jesus had recruited them to leave the fishing business in order to become vocational ‘religious’ workers – leaders in training.  They had enlisted, leaving family and friends behind, for what would turn out to be a two-year training assignment and a new life-long vocation.

Having just ended an inspirational evening the night before, they discover Jesus alone outside of town spending time in prayer and communion with His Father.  They assume that He will want to continue the wonderful experience of healing and miracles that occurred the night before, so they remind Him that, “everyone is looking for you.”  They assume that He would want to return to Peter and Andrew’s home and heal those who were gathering there.

But, Jesus responded with a risk-taking statement, “Let’s go to the nearby villages…that is why I have come.”  It was a risk to disappoint the expectations of his new recruits.  What if they insisted on Him coming back to help?  There was pressure on Jesus to conform to the wishes of His team and the needs of the masses.  But, Jesus boldly and confidently said ‘no.’

It was His mission – task – purpose that brought clarity to the decision that now had to be made.  He was focused on that purpose – the ‘why’ of His ministry.  Thus, while it may seem difficult, it was not really.  Clarity of purpose – mission made the decision an obvious one.  He must go to the surrounding villages to tell them the Good News of the Kingdom and not be consumed with the needs in Capernaum only.

Clarity of purpose and maintaining that focus is essential for leadership success.  Many a leader has started out well, having a clear vision for what they want to accomplish, but then in the midst of the ‘daily whiteout’ they forget why they are so busy.  Consumed by the immediate needs, they succumb to reactive leadership instead of maintaining their strategic intent.

Don’t fall into this trap.  Stay focused!  Stay strategic!  Don’t substitute busyness for strategic intent!

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?

God’s Purposes

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.                       Psalm 138:8   NIV  1984

After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ …  “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.
Acts 13:22, 36   NIV  1984

David wrote Psalm 138 and testified that the Lord would fulfill His purpose for him.  By faith, David testified that the Lord would do for him what He had promised.  He was certain of it.

One thousand years later Paul testifies about David’s life in a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch on his first missionary journey.  He says that God found David to be a man after God’s own heart who would do whatever God asked of him.  And David did just that.  And when that purpose for his generation was completed, David fell asleep – he died.

Our God is a missional God who works.  Jesus reminds us that the Father is always at work and that He too is working (see John 5:17).  Because we are created in His image, we too are to have a missional mindset.

What is our purpose for which the Lord has made us?  What is it that He wants to accomplish in and through us?  Find that purpose and you will find satisfaction and peace.

Yes, there is the overarching purpose of knowing Him and bringing glory to Him (see John 17:3; Isaiah 43:7).  But there is also a personal purpose (mission, task) for which the Lord created you and redeemed you, asking you to accomplish this during your generation.

Ask Him to show you what that destiny is and then give yourself to it with your whole heart.  You were made for it!

Your purpose…. your destiny ….  your task…  your mission – do you know it and are you following Him into its fulfillment?

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