Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Leadership”

Leadership Paradigm Shift

There has been a fundamental shift in how Kingdom leaders lead. This change came at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to all believers, not just God’s chosen leaders.

In the Old Testament paradigm, God’s anointing and His Spirit rested upon specific leaders enabling them to know God’s will and communicate it to His people. In Moses’ recounting of God giving Israel the Law on Mt. Sinai, he illustrates this, “At that time I stood between the LORD and you to declare to you the word of the LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain)… Deuteronomy 5:5 NIV God spoke to Moses and he delivered God’s message to the people.

But after the Holy Spirit came upon all believers in the New Testament we now have a different leadership paradigm. Yes, Kingdom leaders are still God’s anointed for their responsibilities. But these leaders are now leading God’s people who themselves have His Spirit within them. We are leading fellow members of God’s family, His children, who also have God living within them. “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15-16 NIV

Thus, when leading others – our leadership team or our ‘flock’ that we shepherd – Kingdom leaders today must realize that the Spirit can also speak directly to those we lead. In our New Testament paradigm we don’t have the opportunity to say, “God told me that…” and assume that those we lead will automatically accept it as God’s will. Because they too have direct access to the Lord’s voice, we should listen carefully for confirmation from those we lead, especially the spiritually mature.

It may well be God’s direction was known by the leader, but if it is, we can assume it will be confirmed by the Spirit within many of those we lead. I’m not suggesting that decisions should be 100% consensus (this can be tyranny by the minority), but a wise leader will listen to the voices from those led, discerning what the Spirit is saying through them. Should there be a lack of agreement, wisdom and prudence would suggest to wait and rethink the direction, seeking more clarity.

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

Headwinds and Crosscurrents!

And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” … Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” … And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” Acts 10:15, 20, 22 ESV

Jesus had given the Great Commission to the apostles and His disciples multiple times and in multiple places during the days between the resurrection and His ascension back to heaven from the Mt. of Olives. This last command was to make disciples of all peoples – Jews and Gentiles. Yet, though the scope of the Commission was very clear, the acceptance of it by the leadership was seemingly slow to be acted upon.

Here’s an approximate timeline for the progression of the gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jews) in the book of Acts.

Pentecost Acts 1 30 AD.

Samaritans Acts 8 31 AD.

Cornelius Acts 10 37 AD.

Jerusalem Council Acts 15 48 AD.

The Lord sent Phillip to preach the good news to the Samaritans in Acts 8 after the stoning of Stephen. Peter and John, having heard that the Samaritans believed, went to confirm this news (Acts 8:14ff). After meeting these new believers and praying for them, they came to realize that the discriminated against Samaritans were given access to the Kingdom.

Several years (six years?) later Peter received a thrice-repeated vision that nothing was unclean that God created and was sent for by Cornelius to come and explain the gospel to him and his household. Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile, a Roman centurion soldier, had been instructed by God to get Peter and listen carefully to his message. Peter obeyed God’s direction to go to Cornelius’s house – an ‘unclean’ Gentile house – and shared Christ. Upon receiving the truth, Cornelius and his entire household believed.

Peter was called back to Jerusalem to explain why he was fraternizing with Gentiles. After hearing about the providential circumstances that led to Cornelius and his family’s response to the gospel, the apostles and other leaders began to accept the new reality. When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” Acts 11:18 NIV

Further clarity was brought to the issue about Gentiles and the gospel lifestyle at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 after the conclusion of Paul’s first missionary tour. Leaders affirmed the inclusion of Gentiles in the family of God and encouraged Paul and friends to continue their God-defined mission to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. This meeting was now approximately 18+ years after Jesus gave the disciples the Commission to make disciples of all peoples of the world.

Are you sensing that the forward movement of your leadership mission is slow to progress? Are you feeling like it’s two steps forward and one back? Are you facing fierce headwinds and crosscurrents that threaten to take you off course or sink your ‘ship?’ Time to refocus! Fix your thoughts and fix your eyes upon Jesus!

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT

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

God’s Guidance this Year

[God] who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. Deuteronomy 1:33 NIV

Israel had exited Egypt and rejected the minority report from Joshua and Caleb about the Promised Land. Now they were condemned to spend 40 years wandering in the desert for their disbelief and disobedience. Yet, God did not abandon them completely. He remained faithful to His promises to Abraham and led them through the wilderness. They were not left to their own wisdom, but God Himself led them. He provided a pillar of fire for nighttime movement and activities as well as a cloud to shield them from the desert heat during the day. He is faithful!

As we begin this new year of our individual journeys, perhaps your path forward is unclear at this time. Are you struggling to know where the Lord is leading and how you will arrive at wherever He directs? Has the enemy sown doubt in your mind and heart about His faithfulness? Have you forgotten the Lord’s care and provision for you in the past? Do you not believe the testimony of Nahum 1:7, “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”

It’s easy to begin the journey well and then lose heart when things don’t go the way we expected. “Where’s the goodness of God?” we say. “This certainly doesn’t feel good.” “I’m worried about my future and the journey the Lord will take me on through my personal wilderness.” “Where’s God?” “Doesn’t He care about me and my challenging circumstances?”

God is in the same place He has always been – leading and guiding you. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. He is good. He was good when you felt good and He is still good when you don’t feel the same. He is guiding you just as He did to get you to this point today and He will continue to guide you into to your unknown future, for that future is known to Him. His loving care does not change with the circumstances.

Therefore, trust and act on this reality… 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

Launching the New Year

2022 has ended and now we launch 2023!  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 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 2023!

Silent Night

Until the Middle Ages there was no congregational singing in Christian churches.  Trained choirs sang chants and monotonous songs.  After the Christmas services, the church members would often gather in the streets to sing songs about the birth of Jesus, called ‘carola.’  Martin Luther introduced congregational singing to the churches during the Protestant Reformation and the singing of Christmas carols became part of our Christmas celebrations as we remember the birth of our Savior.

“Silent Night” is the most popular Christmas carol.  This beloved carol was first written and sung on Christmas Eve in Obendorf, Austria in 1818.  Joseph Mohr was a young priest who had written the words to the hymn two years previously, but now refined it as he walked in the snow, house-to-house, inviting his church members to the worship service that evening.

Returning to his church, the priest asked the church organist, Franz Gruber, to put a melody to the lyrics he had composed.  The organist did so, but reminded the priest that the church organ was broken and not functioning.  They would have to use different accompaniment that night instead of the usual organ.  Thus, Silent Night, was sung for the first time at the service that evening, but it was sung to guitar as Gruber led the congregation in worship!

From this small and seemingly insignificant beginning in an obscure village in Austria the carol, Silent Night, has moved around the world and passed from generation to generation as our most beloved Christmas carol.

Don’t despise small beginnings!

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.    Luke 2:6-11  NIV

Merry Christmas!

Telling and Remembering

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:5-8 NIV

It has been said, “Teaching is not telling and hearing is not understanding.” Jesus had told these women and His other followers multiple times about His pending death and promised resurrection. These angels had to remind them of what He had told them previously. After this prompting by the angels concerning what Jesus had said previously, “they remembered His words.”

It has also been said, “Now that we’ve put it in writing, we need to teach people how to read.” Kingdom leaders and their communication challenges lead to confusion, misunderstanding, and wasted effort. Leaders can assume that those they lead remember what they’ve said. This can be a costly assumption. If the disciples did not remember what Jesus said, odds are they won’t remember what you say. Don’t assume your communications are being read, understood, or applied. You will need to remind them as the angels did with these women disciples.

Over-communicate those things that are especially important. Choose multiple means and times to state the important. Beginning with your mission and vision, make it hard for others to misunderstand what they are being asked to accomplish. Don’t assume that slick graphics or catchy phrases will ensure understanding and engagement. Say it again but say it in such a way that others will hear. Jesus sent two angels to remind these women of what He had said.

Remember what Peter said, “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” 2 Peter 1:12 NIV

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

Leadership Changes

“So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus–from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.” So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven. Acts 1:21-26 NLT

During the ten days between the Lord’s ascension back to heaven from the Mount of Olives until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, Peter suggested that they choose a replacement for Judas Iscariot who had betrayed Jesus. He said this based upon Psalm 109:8 which talks of another who will replace the lost one. Let’s note some principles for replacing leaders.

First, we note that before they talked about specific people, they defined the qualifications for the candidates. A candidate would be, “from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus–from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us.” Any candidate would be a man who had been with Jesus since the time of His baptism by John the Baptist until the ascension back to heaven just recently. This would be a ‘high bar’ to meet and would ensure someone who had seen and heard what the other Eleven had experienced with Jesus. Define the qualities, characteristics, and competencies needed for the job.

Secondly, we see that they defined the ‘job’ of this new replacement. “Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.” Clarify the job that the candidate will fulfill. Put it in writing!

Third, identify candidates who meet the qualifications for the job. The disciples identified two men – Mattias and Barsabbas who met the qualifications.

Fourth, they prayed and asked for the Lord to show who He had chosen for this vital role. The Eleven were really leading a process of discernment, seeking to identify the individual whom the Lord had already chosen. This was a spiritual process, not a political one.

Last, we note that they made the decision between the two – doing so by casting lots. This may seem arbitrary, or chance driven, but culturally it was a common method for decision making – similar to our casting votes. It was choosing black or white stones out of a bag, or long straw vs short straw. Regardless of the specific means, they trusted that God would direct the final choice to the one whom He had already chosen.

Kingdom leaders will be chosen and will transition their leadership to another – it is a matter of when, not if. Prepare now for the steps in the process of the selection, as well as those steps for the transition to another. May you do it with grace and in a God-honoring way!

The Hope of the Resurrection

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” … See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. … They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:36, 39-40, 42-43 ESV

As followers of Christ having accepted Him as Savior and placed our trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins, we are promised by the Lord Himself a new body at the resurrection of the righteous. This new body will be different from our current one in many ways, yet still maintaining the same basic shape (two hands, two feet, head, torso, legs, etc.) We draw these conclusions from the model of the resurrected body of Jesus when He appeared to His disciples during the 40 days after His own resurrection. Let’s note some of the characteristics of His new body.

What appears to be the same – He still has the nail marks from His crucifixion in His hands and feet (will they remain for all eternity as a reminder to us all in heaven of His sacrifice for us)? He has two hands and two feet. He can walk. His body appears as ‘flesh and bones’ – not some spiritual ghost-like body. He has a mouth and He can eat with it. Do you wonder, at least I do, about the digestive process in the resurrected body? He can speak with this new mouth, and apparently hear with His new ears when spoken to by the disciples. Earlier on the first Easter morning when appearing to two on the road to Emmaus He walked and talked with them, sat down, prayed, tore bread, and passed it to the two (see Luke 24:28-32). Perhaps it was in the passing of the bread that they saw His nail marks and recognized Him?

But for all these similar characteristics, our eternal bodies will have major upgrades. First of all, it is an eternal body – no degenerative aging or decay. It will last forever! Jesus in His new body was able to materialize and disappear at will. With His new body He could move through walls and enter locked rooms (see John 20:19ff). He could ascend into heaven from earth at will (see Acts 1, and the end of Luke 24). He moved about on the earth – appearing in and around Jerusalem and Galilee (around Capernaum) as well as making personal visits to Peter and to James His brother (see 1 Corinthians 15).

We know enough to have anchored hope in the promised resurrection of our new perfect body. But there is also the reality that, “… No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT)

Therefore, comfort and encourage one another with these words!

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