Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “obedience”

God’s Favor on a Leader

After receiving the tabernacle, our ancestors under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Acts 7:45-47 NIV

We note from Stephen’s testimony above that David, the leader of Israel, that David “enjoyed God’s favor.” That is, God’s hand of blessing was upon David and his leadership. God prospered David’s kingdom and blessed his endeavors. He was a “man after God’s own heart” (see Paul’s testimony about David in Acts 13:22). Yes, David was blessed and favored by God, yet there were limitations.

David had in mind to build a permanent structure for the ark of the covenant. Since the time of Moses and the 40 years of desert wanderings, the Tabernacle containing the ark had moved from place to place. David thought it a good idea to build a temple to house the ark – a means of remembering God’s faithfulness and blessing. But it was not to be David who built the temple. It was Solomon, his son, who would have the privilege of completing what his father, David, had dreamed of doing.

Just because you experience God’s blessing on your leadership does not mean that His blessing rests upon every idea or initiative you take in your leadership. David’s plans to build the temple were rebuked by God. “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” 2 Samuel 7:12-13 NIV

David submitted to God’s plan for the temple. He did not demand God’s favor on this dream. Rather, he humbled himself, made preparations for the build, and entrusted the task to Solomon as he transitioned his leadership to his son.

This is what made David a man after God’s heart. Yes, he made mistakes – major mistakes! Yet, when confronted with his sin or rebuked by God, he repented, humbled himself, and obeyed the Lord’s commands.

Are you ‘a leader after God’s own heart’? How’s your attitude when God does not bless your efforts or prosper you endeavors?

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

Leadership Destiny

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” … For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:28, 37-38 ESV

And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. … When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” … Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:2, 4, 10 ESV

Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. … Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”… And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them…” Genesis 37:5, 9-10; 42:9 ESV

Note that with both Mary, Moses, and Joseph the Lord took the initiative to call and direct His people, setting before them their personal destiny – God’s purposes in and through them. Their destiny was not immediately fulfilled, rather they had to trust that the Lord’s plan for them would happen even though it seemed to be long in coming. Their individual obedience to submit to God’s plan required faith and courage, regardless of the acceptance or support of others.

As Kingdom leaders we can expect the Lord to call and direct us into the path He has for us. We can trust that His plans for us cannot be frustrated or blocked completely by any opposing forces. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 ESV He will fulfill His promises. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 ESV

The journey may not unfold as we anticipate, but the destination is sure.

God’s delays do not mean God’s denials!   

Don’t doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light!

Trust Him!

Leadership Comparison

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them… When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:20-22 NIV

It’s post-resurrection on a beach of the Sea of Galilee. Seven of the Twelve have spent the night fishing with no results. Jesus appears on the beach and encourages them to once more let down their nets. The resulting catch was so astounding that they even counted the results – 153 large fish! Now, having finished their haul and eaten breakfast with Jesus, He gets some personal time with Peter and John. They take a walk down the beach and Jesus discusses with Peter about his mission for the future.

Three times Jesus questions Peter about his love and commitment. No doubt you have heard of the change of language in the word use of ‘love’ from the first two ‘agape’ questions to the final ‘phileo’ one. Peter acknowledges his love for Jesus and Jesus responds with an action that demonstrates his confession – feed the people of God – His sheep. Having denied the Lord three times on the night before the crucifixion, he now is charged three times with this responsibility for continued engagement. Peter receives this commissioning and then asks a question, “What about him?”

The “him” refers to John who had followed them down the beach. Peter had received his mission and even been told by the Lord how it would end. Now Peter’s attention drifts to his friend following close behind them. “What’s going to happen to him?” he asks.

Jesus quickly draws Peter back to the main point – his own journey, not John’s. With a mild rebuke, He tells Peter to essentially focus on your own life and let me deal with John’s journey. John’s life and ministry would be very different from that of Peter’s, so no need for comparison between the two.

Kingdom leaders can begin to compare notes with each other regarding our respective callings, ministries, outcomes and/or life journeys the Lord has taken us on. What may have come from simple curiosity can quickly move to competition or envy. “Why didn’t I get that opportunity?” Why did the Lord do this with me and that with them?” “Why did the Lord treat them that way and me differently?” Note that all of these questions begin with “why,” assuming that we are owed an explanation from the Lord to justify His actions. Since we seem to be treated differently, the Lord should explain Himself so that it makes sense to us and seems ‘fair.’

Comparison does not end well. Focus on faithfulness to your mission and let the Lord deal with others according to His unique plan for them. Run hard to the tape, keeping your eyes fixed on Him!

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! 

He is Out of His Mind

And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”   Mark 3:21 (ESV)

As Kingdom leaders follow their personal calling from the Lord, they are often surprised by a lack of support or encouragement from those that know and love them.  So it was with the mother and brothers of Jesus.

As Jesus was growing into a public figure and crowds began to gather to hear Him and be healed, word came to His family.  Their conclusion – knowing He had no training for such, was that He had lost His mind – literally, He had gone insane.  Thus, they came to Capernaum to take Him back home, for His own ‘protection’ no doubt and to save the family any further embarrassment.  But their mission failed.

Sometime thereafter, Jesus returned to Nazareth, His home town.  There, He taught in the synagogue, but few supported Him.  He could do little in their presence because of their lack of faith in Him (see Mark 6:1-6).  Jesus marveled at their unbelief and proclaimed that a prophet is not honored among those who know him well – even in his own house.  This must have been quite discouraging.

Towards the end of His public ministry we see another encounter with Jesus and His brothers in John 7:1-5.  His brothers (the term could also mean brothers and sisters) chided Him for not going to Jerusalem and publicly showing off His ministry to the world.  Why are you hiding in Galilee – if it’s attention you seek, then go to the epicenter of the Jewish world and show off!  John tells us that they said this because they did not believe in Him.

But, after the resurrection, Jesus made a personal appearance to His brother, James (see 1 Corinthians 15:7) that must have been quite the encounter!  The result was James’s conversion and belief in Jesus as His Lord and Savior.  Mary and her boys were in the room praying with the Eleven after the Ascension (see Acts 1:14).  Thus, during the 40 days post-resurrection, they came to belief.  James would later become the local leader of the Jerusalem church (see Acts 15).

In the introduction of his epistle, James identifies himself as, “the bond slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1).  What a transformation!  What humility!  And another of His brothers, Jude, also writes in the introduction of his letter, “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James…” (Jude 1:1).

Those who know you best may be slow to embrace your role or calling.  Jesus experienced the same.  Don’t let their lack of acceptance or support deter you from obeying the Lord’s clear destiny that He has designed you for.  Follow hard after Him and trust that those who know and love you will see Christ’s hand on you and your leadership over time.

Bend Your Neck

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.      Deuteronomy 32:9   (NIV 1984)

Isn’t it interesting that the Lord uses a phrase – stiff-necked – to describe a people who are unwilling to obey Him or submit to His authority over them.  Why not something like ‘cold-hearted’ or ‘hard-headed’ or just ‘strong-willed?’

A ‘stiff-necked’ person is one who holds their head rigidly erect.  It’s a sign of inward pride and self-confidence gone to an extreme.  The stiff-necked person is one who is inwardly (sometimes outwardly also) rebellious to the rule and reign of God in them. They would rather trust themselves than take the risk of entrusting themselves to the Lord.

The person who bends their neck demonstrates a sign of submission and a willingness to trust the Lord’s leadership in their lives.  They acknowledge their limits and willingly invite the Lord into their leadership knowing that they are really not that important in the grand scheme of things.

Signs of a ‘stiff-necked’ person:

  1.  A shallow, hurried, perfunctory prayer life.
  2.  An unwillingness to delegate responsibility to others.
  3.  A leader who is focused more on control than outcomes.
  4.  An unteachable attitude to others, especially those who they are leading.
  5.  A selective teachability, picking and choosing from those who they see as worthy of their attention.
  6.  In decision-making – especially important decisions – made without taking counsel from the Lord or others.
  7.  Self-centered talk with a lack of active listening and few questions for others.
  8.  Taking credit for the success of others.

The stiff-necked leader may be one who has some ‘success’ – at least short-term.  They seem to get things done.  But, this is a short-lived result.  For the Lord says that He actively opposes the proud (see 1 Peter 5:5-6).  He will not share His glory with another.

So… how’s that stiffening feeling in your neck these days?

The Basics are Basic #3

OBEDIENCE TO GOD

Memory verse:

“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
John 14:21

Why Is Obedience to God Important?

1 Samuel 15:22  But Samuel replied:  “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Luke 6:46  “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

John 14:21-24  Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”  Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”  Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Romans 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

James 1:22-25  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.

James 4:17  Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

1 Peter 1:14  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.

1 John 2:3-6  We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

God commands His children to obey Him. If we live in obedience to Him we demonstrate our love for Him. Because God gave His one and only Son to die on behalf of our sins, we should live a life of obedient submission to His will as a sign of thankfulness and gratefulness for all He has done. If we chose to live in disobedience to His Word, we sin.

Benefits of Obedience to God

Deuteronomy 4:39-40  Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below.  There is no other.  Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.

Proverbs 1:33  But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.

Proverbs 16:7  When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

Isaiah 1:19  If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land;

Jeremiah 7:23  but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.

Matthew 7:24-27  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

John 15:1-14  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.   Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.

Obedience will bring forth the fruit of joy in our hearts.  Remember, in order to know the commands of God that we might obey them, we must read and study His Word. Obedience to God is always in alignment with His Word, the Bible.

Finish What You Started!

In Hebrews 1:14 we read, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”  Angels are God’s servants who are sent on various missions of service to accomplish His purposes.

In John 17:18 we find Jesus praying for those who would believe on Him in the future, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”  We too are people on a mission – to accomplish God’s purposes in and through us.  And of course, this compelling vision is to disciple the nations for Him (Matthew 28:18-20).  Once we have completed our God-given purpose or mission we will end our life and enter His presence.  “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.”

God is missional in His purposes.  The Bible opens with God at work in Creation and Jesus testifies that, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”  Adam was created in God’s image and, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

As Kingdom leaders we are called to accomplish God’s purposes – to a mission or task. We are called to lead and to work.  It is God’s job to identify the mission and it is our job to join with Him in completing the work He gives us to do.

It is not enough just to begin this work or mission.  We are called to bring it to completion.  It is Jesus example that compels us, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4).

Paul exhorts his co-laborer Archippus in Colossians 4:17:  “Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”

What have you begun that is either taking longer or much more effort than what you thought it would take?  Are you weary and considering quitting?  Did not God call you to accomplish a mission or task?  His calling was not to begin and quit half-way through.  Bring it to completion!  Finish what you started!  Do it for Him!

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