Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Margin”

Hobbies or Hobbles?

I was educated and trained as a veterinarian, specializing in horses.  There were certain times when I needed to restrain a horse in order to work on it.  Hobbles were one of the most useful, simple means for immobilizing a horse and to protect me from getting my brains beat out by a horse hoof!

A 1,200 pound horse can be pretty much immobilized by tethering a couple of its legs together.  Great power and strength can now be brought under control with a small rope around the legs.

Leaders are busy, often intense, and sometimes over-extended people who need times when they unplug from their responsibilities and recharge.  This habit of stepping away from our leadership duties to build reserve is sometimes referred to as living within our boundaries, scheduling with a margin, or simply taking time off.  It’s an excellent discipline and will enable sustained contribution over a long time.

But sometimes our hobbies can become hobbles for us.  What was just a small hobby now becomes an obsession.  The all-in intensity we bring to our leadership now becomes focused on our leisure activities as well.  What was a recharge opportunity now becomes an opportunity for mastery instead.

Living in Colorado, I love being outdoors in God’s creation.  And I especially enjoy fly fishing in the mountains around my home.  People come from all over the world to experience what I have out my door.  It’s a wonderful privilege to live where I live.

Yet, as I enjoy my hobby of the pursuit of trout, I want to be aware that this is a means to an end, not an end for me.  Fly fishing is a recharge opportunity to allow me to pursue my primary calling of seeking to change the world one person at a time by helping them live and lead like Jesus.  If I’m not careful and circumspect, my hobby can become my hobble to keep me from accomplishing my God-given mission.

There are some who may be called to serve as fly fishing guides or in other parts of the industry who, for them, fly fishing is their mission.  They use this as a platform to serve God and influence others.  This is good and right.  I could have been asked by Him to continue as a equine practitioner and should I have done so, it would have been right.  But the Lord asked me to change my vocation and leave vet medicine in order to become a vocational missionary.  Both vocations are honorable and good.  There is no higher value in vocational Christian service.  We do all for Him and His glory whether it is ‘ministry’ or ‘marketplace’ as all are of equal worth and value in His eyes.  It’s simply a matter of personal calling and God’s plans for our lives.

Do you have a hobby or a routine that helps you recharge?  How are you managing that hobby?  Is it truly refreshing you or has your hobby now become your hobble?

Living with Margin

I’m taking a break this week!

Seeking to honor God by living within my margins and boundaries.

How about you?  When was the last time you took some time away for refreshment and rest?

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”      Mark 6:31

Taking Time Away

I’m seeking to model leading from an overflow of my own walk with the Lord.  In doing so I’m taking time away from the routines of leadership in order to refresh my soul and body.

What fills your tank?  When was the last time you had an intentional break from your routine responsibilities?  Are you leading from an overflow or is your tank near empty?

Don’t think you need a break?  Ask your spouse?  🙂


Balance and Margin

As leaders we must be living and leading from an overflow with plenty ‘in the tank’ from which to influence others.  This means that we take regular times away for refreshment and refilling the ‘tank.’

Even Jesus reminded the Twelve to, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” [For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.]” (Mark 6:31).

I’m taking a break for restoration and refreshment.

How about you?

Modeling Balance and Margin

Yes… Still taking a break.

This blog will resume again on 8 September 2014.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31

Taking a Break

Yes… I’m taking some time off.  When was the last time you had an extended break?

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31



Solitude in the Ministry

Here’s another great reminder for busy leaders from my “archive.”

Taking it From the Top
Moody Monthly – May 1991     Dr. Wayne Hopkins

Each of us regularly needs solitude, especially those in the ministry. At least one day a week you and I, individually, must get away. Normally, Sunday is not that day! For those in the ministry, it is a battle day.

In light of what a typical servant of God routinely faces and in order to remain calm in heart and gentle in spirit, a full day with God alone every week seems to be a minimum. Streams of living water do not pour forth from barren and burned places.

Life presses on us, leaving us alarmed in heart and hard in spirit. ”The length of our days is 70 years–or 80, if we have the strength–yet their span is but trouble and sorrow; for they pass quickly, and we fly away” (Ps 90:10).

American culture structures against one literally taking a day in seven for rest and reflection. The corporate world believes, as do some hard-working Christians, that any form of “shut-down-time” is sloth and dawdle. But alcoholism, deception, divorce, superficiality, and ulcers rank high among these same folks.

Solitude, found in isolation, has several components. One, the day must be one of studying the Scriptures (Deut 17:18-20; Ezra 7:10). A soul weary with sorrow is strengthened with God’s Word (Ps 119:28). A brief quiet time, even observed every day, has never been enough.

Two, the day of solitude is constructed with stillness (Ps 37:17; 46:10). Such a day probably impossible to attain by a neurotic American, or by a guilt-driven believer, is characterized by a moratorium on activity (Ps 4:4): no chores, errands, phone calls, or TV (Isa 30:15).

Three, quietness is required (Lev 10:3). Sitting still for some does not eliminate noise. But the radio, music, Walkman, even mental racket must go. For in the long hush, not in the loud hurry, we learn about God (Ecc 5:1-7; Jer 17:19-29). Only privacy provides the silence needed for God to re-order my life, bashed and sapped from six days of mauling (Prov 17:1; Lam 3:25-33).

Four, waiting for God with patience is mandatory (Ps 5:3; 130:5-6). The rude, robust, and righteous person chafes at lingering in God’s presence for any period longer than a 30-second church prayer (Hos 8:4; 10:12-13). For a society that measures Olympic races in hundredths of a second, a full day can be an eternity. However, the barbarian heart which undercuts God’s kingdom naturally jeers at any apparent dilly-dallying or wasting of time by reposing before God (Ps 131:2; Isa 8:17).

Not uncharacteristically, Moses waited, not only 40 days on two occasions, but six days on another (Ex 24:15-18); Ezekiel tarried seven (Ezek 3:15-16); and Jesus fasted 40 (Mt 4:2). Frequently, God’s servants–e.g. Job, Abraham, Jeremiah, Elijah, Daniel, John the Baptist, and Paul–logged days in seclusion. The willingness to wait, both before Him and for Him, displays courtesy, faith, and dependency (Isa 30:18, 33:2; 40:31). Personal and work-related mission, passion, and creativity surface and flame in those hours.

Five, meditation is an absolute (Ps 1:2; 119:27). Pondering deeply the nature and the ways of God takes not only time and serenity but controlled thinking. Totally unknown to anxious Americans addicted to action, speed, work, and noise, meditation is the only vista whereby I can meet with Him (Ps 119:15,23,27,48,55,62,78,97,148; Isa 57:11). While we praise God loudly in music and testimony, we learn about Him in silence-free from distractions-as we mentally and calmly dwell on Him (Ps 86:1-17; Prov 22:17-21; Lk 10:38-42).

Six, fasting follows next (Ps 35:13). The discipline of fasting, not originally initiated for hefty American pastors or missionaries, decreases the clutter and static for the day’s devotion and, in turn, enhances solitude (Ps 69:10; 109:24). Never intended to be routine or ritualistic (Isa 58:1-14; Mt 6:16-18) or even a total abstinence, fasting portrays an inward awe for God which is particularly appropriate at critical decision times (Ezra 8:21-23;Acts 13.1-3). To consult truly with God over heavy matters in life, one’s inner contriteness and brokenness are matched by an outer withdrawal from daily routines. Jesus directed that fasting would be fitting after His departure and during His absence (Mt 9:14-15).

Seven, a prayer response to what God shows one in secret is expected (Job 42:5-6; Isa 6:5). Confession qualifies me for further illumination regarding God’s truth, whether about Him or me (Josh 9:14; 1 Ch 10:14; 15:13; 2 Ch 16:12). Some devotees ask to be taught how to pray. But as God teaches solitude and these disciplines of the soul which compose it, prayer is a natural reaction to what He discloses. Prayer without revelation is vain religion.

As serious Christians today with a penchant for action, we are impressed with David’s valor in defeating Goliath. We puzzle over how he did it, perhaps failing to notice that as a shepherd he received his boldness for the battle not from the frenzy of the freeway but from the solitude of a sheep meadow (1 Sam 17:34-37). God loves shepherds. They are known for their solitude.

Busyness is normative for leaders.  If you don’t want a busy life, then don’t lead!  But the busyness of leadership is no excuse for spending time with the King in quiet reflection, meditation, and prayer.  When’s your next time of solitude with the King?

A Shelter Day in the Ministry – Part 2

The following is from my “archives” and a great reminder of a timeless truth for leaders.

Taking It from the Top
Moody Monthly – January 1992    Dr. Wayne Hopkins

The ministry is work. Hard work! Any servant of God worth his salt, motivated by a sense of righteousness and eternity, painfully feels there is more to do than what he can accomplish. Hurting people in his ministry need him-because of marital problems, wayward children, and conflicts with relatives, neighbors, and folks at work and church.

Hence, time always seems in short supply for the urgent crises of counseling witnessing, preaching, Bible studies, and helping others. The staggering amount of abuse, adultery, bankruptcy, divorce, drunkenness, eating disorders, gambling, idolatry, and store housing drives the caring shepherd.

Not uncommonly the servant tastes the fatigue and desperate panic of an athlete in the Triathlon who discovers during the race additional miles and events are being added, pushing the finish line further away into the twilight.

The genius of a Shelter Day (S-Day)–where activity hatches are shut and bolted down, no matter how spiritual or alarming–is that it serves as a submerged day for rest and recharging. In addition to it being a study time, the S-Day is to be distinguished by stillness (Ps 46:10). It is not enough merely to stay home one day a week in seclusion; one cannot hopscotch around the house to the phone, computer, TV and refrigerator (Ex 14:10-18). Stillness requires staying fixed and focused mentally, and it excludes leapfrogging on ministry projects behind closed doors (Ps 37:7).

God’s “thoughts and ways” which are as high and different from mine as the heavens are above the earth (Isa 55:8,9), are not grasped by me in the midst of a cyclone, convulsions. or even a dull circus. The profound joy and peace–promised to me from another world (Isa 55:12)–as a result of entering God’s intimacy are not merely millennial blessings, tucked away for me for the future, in the meantime leaving me to grunt, gnash, and gnaw on my own (Isa 28:12,13). God orders me to abandon now my “evil thoughts and ways” (Isa 55:7-13) and ponder His thoughts and ways.

Before the S-Day can produce “strength and a rescue” for me, it must be furrowed with “rest and quietness” (Isa 30:15). A modern “can-do” American, especially the guilt-driven Kingdom worker, finds it virtually impossible to turn off the power drive and park for 24 hours.

Both a physical and mental idle is mandatory, if I am going to benefit reflectively from God’s presence with me (Ps 116:7; Zech 2:13). A throttled-down, unflapped composure by me is that steady state needed to refuel in mid-flight. True poise, which allows insight and refreshment from the sphere above, gushes to a calm, unruffled soul below, content to wait for Him no matter how long it takes (Hab 2:20; Zeph 1:7).

David’s other-world contemplations and psalms flushed earthward while he sat or lay motionless and hushed (Ps 4:4; 16:78; 42:1-43:5). Songs bubbled up and over, springing from deep wells within, only in a long lull which followed a storm. Job, likewise, made absolutely no progress in penetrating the mystery of his afflictions until he and his friends stopped their flap and fury allowing God to interrupt with facts (Job 40:3-5; 42:1-6).

Like rain and snow cycling from heaven to earth then back, according to Isaiah 55:10, 11, the Word of the Lord spreads throughout the land to accomplish that which He intends. The soil, nourished like my soul, then yields its “seeds for the sower and bread for the hungry.” Patiently and majestically nature waits–as anyone knows who has stood in the middle of a meadow or deep in the woods–for the moisture of the rain and snow. Comparable, the nurture of wisdom and grace, derived from perceiving God’s thoughts and ways, arrives fruitfully in season to those who wait (1 Sam 12:16). Heaven never makes the fields and valleys fertile because they “spin or toil” (Mt 6:19-34; cf. 4:4). They must wait.

For my soul to be restored, God leads me by the still waters (Ps 23:2). For me to drink, I must cease my bank-side romp and ruckus and lie in green pastures. For I process truth about God only in a balmy, soft, and soothing setting, not in a brouhaha, by a boombox, or amid baubles. In praise, singing and celebrations, with bands and voices, I communicate with God. In the still and quiet, God communicates with me…

Do you have your scheduled Shelter Day – a day of reflection, meditation on God and His Word, and study?  It need not be weekly, but it does need to be regular.  Is it on your calendar?

A Shelter Day in the Ministry – Part 1

The following is from my “archives” and a great reminder of a timeless truth for leaders.

Taking It from the Top
Moody Monthly – December 1991    Dr. Wayne Hopkins

I guess every warrior wrestles occasionally in his sleep. I certainly do! David did at times  (Ps 6:6, 42:3 77:2).

The Bible suggests that sleep and dreams in the night, or the lack thereof, gauge how well I do in the day (Ecc 5:3, Is 29:7-8). Indeed, God desires me to have sweet dreams (Ps 4:8).

As the Searcher of all hearts and the Knower of all thoughts (2 Ch 32:31), however, He may grind on me at night in my sleep (Ps 17:3; Heb 4:12-13). He may prod me to cooperate; to do some soul-searching myself on a sleepless night, instead of turning to Sominex or a nightcap (Ps 4:4; 63:6).

Perhaps He seeks to fuss about something ajar or amok in my life (Job 33:14-18). God cradles some, others He clobbers or torments during the night (Isa 50:11). Sleep disorders for some, due to their lifestyle, are such that money, no matter what the amount, cannot buy them sleep (Ecc 5:12). Nightmares, sleepwalking, early arousals, or the like, may serve as a divine alarm, which produces a warning about a spiritual or emotional problem. The problem left unchecked could blaze into a multiple alarm, i.e., physical sickness (Ps 38-3-18). Merely turning off the buzzer is not the object; determining the cause and putting out the fire is.

It seems that God may resort to the night shift with me when He cannot get through on the day shift (Ps 25:8-9). Perhaps in the daytime I am too baffy, bawdy, or busy, but I must collapse or crash somewhere, someplace. Then, there He is (Ps 107:4-32; 139:1-12).

God’s preferred plan, I believe, is that I need one day each week for Him to punch me down, purge me out, patch me up, and mold me back, after six days of duking, drubbing and drifting (Ps 64:4). Fundamentally my soul craves solitude with Him for recuperation (Ps 55:4-8; 84:1-2). Now, a full day of retreat will not replace nor diminish time spent with God each day in prayer, meditation, and study. The Shelter Day is an addition. David, certainly an enterprising administrator, like Daniel, prayed three times a day (Ps 55:17).

But I need at least one major in-take period…; a time of seclusion (Mk 1:35; Heb 4:9); a time for replenishing me deepest wells. Hence, the S Day must be a quiet, study day.

The S Day is not the time for direct sermon or lesson preparation per se’, for that is work, draining the well. On the S Day the well is allowed to recharge. Later, when the well is brimful, sermon construction is quicker. Without the S Day, the well has little time to recover before the bucket bangs the bottom again, scooping up mud and mush…

…The S Day, to reload the heart and soul with premium gusto should be Word centered (Ps 119:92; Mt 4:4; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17), in a cloistered haven. Here I suggest a simple, meditative reading first, then rereading the biblical text (Deut 17:18-20: Ezra 7:10). It is not unthinkable that, in this manner, the entire Bible could be read a half-dozen times each year.

Second, endeavor to outline. Outlining forces critical thinking as one seeks for the theme, message, and logical development of a paragraph, chapter, or book…

Third, study inductively. Original outlining requires it, of course. Collecting references and thoughts, too, (perhaps on 3×5 cards) on relevant topic helps. These topic headings are personal, arising out of one’s life, ministry, and interests…

…compile a growth log. Here one keeps notes and dates on fresh insights. This is not a diary or journal, but a record of added wisdom, jotted down not only on the S day, but as thoughts surface on any day.

Perhaps these S Day study-tips will allow one’s pool to be restocked and flooded with fresh, cool, and living waters from Jesus Christ Himself (Ps 19:7-11; 25:4-5)…

Hence, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in a sheltered place” (Ps 4:8).

Do you have your scheduled Shelter Day – a day of reflection, meditation on God and His Word, and study?  It need not be weekly, but it does need to be regular.  Is it on your calendar?

Reflection at Year End

As we come to the end of the calendar year, it’s good to pause and reflect upon what was and what will be.  It is through reflection that we can gain perspective and see more clearly the overarching, 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… is the time to stop and reflect upon who you are becoming and what you are doing!  Here are some questions to get you started in this reflection time.

Are you pleased with your own personal spiritual walk?  More importantly, is Jesus pleased?  How’s that margin in your life?  Are you living and leading from an overflow?  How’s the family doing?  Are you paying the price to have the marriage you committed to on your wedding day?  Are you investing deeply in your children, 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?  Is the vision of where you are leading to focused or foggy?  Do you have a team that is unified and empowered?  Are you accomplishing the mission that you intended to accomplish?

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


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