Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Personal development”

Kingdom Wisdom’s 7 Pillars – #2

In Proverbs 9:1 we read, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars” (NIV 1984).  What are the seven pillars found in the house of wisdom?

We find them listed for us in the previous chapter in Proverbs 8:12,14 (NIV 1984):  I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretionCounsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.  And note how verses 15 and 16 connect wisdom to leadership.

Common proverbs are created to capture some of the worldly wisdom based on experiences gathered over time. For example, “Look before you leap,” “A penny saved is a penny earned,” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” all catalog observed experiences. But they have no ability to determine right from wrong or good from bad; they simply operate on the assumption that results are good.

Information is a building block of the foundation of understanding and wisdom. Without knowledge (information), there is no understanding or wisdom. But knowledge alone will not help us lead a wise life that is pleasing to God. If we are not careful, much knowledge can lead to an elitist spirit, an “I’m better than you” attitude.

By contrast, Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” This fear is not terror or something that drives us away from the Lord. Rather, it is respect—a healthy awe and recognition that God is our Creator, the one with no beginning and no end, Alpha and Omega, King of kings and Lord of lords.  We are but dust whom He has breathed life into. Truth resides in Him and His Word, and therefore we focus our knowledge pursuit on knowing Him and His Word, with an eye toward applying it in God-pleasing ways.

The knowledge that leads to godly wisdom is rooted in knowing God from His Word. It is knowing Him personally—intimately. It flows out of a growing, dynamic love relationship with Him over a lifetime. This knowledge results from pursuing God, loving Him with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-38) and living a life pleasing to Him. It is the pursuit of God for the whole of life.

In his prayer for the Colossian believers, Paul asked God that they “may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Colossians 1:9-10).

Having knowledge helps us begin our journey to wisdom, but it is not the destination. Knowledge is desirable and good, but it is a contingent good—it is how we get to godly wisdom, the ultimate goal.

For more thoughts on leading with Kingdom wisdom:  Growing Kingdom Wisdom

Kingdom Wisdom’s 7 Pillars – #1

In Proverbs 9:1 we read, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars” (NIV 1984).  What are the seven pillars found in the house of wisdom?

We find them listed for us in the previous chapter in Proverbs 8:12,14 (NIV 1984):  I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretionCounsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.  And note how verses 15 and 16 connect wisdom to leadership.

Let’s begin with what a prudent leader looks like.  One characteristic of a prudent leader is their ability to assess risk well.  All leadership involves some level of risk, because leaders are leading into an unknown future. They make decisions today that bear consequences in an unknown tomorrow.  Nothing is 100 percent certain.  We never have all the information that we want to make a “perfect decision” (as if that were possible).

We must discern when we have enough information to make a good, timely decision, given the circumstances.  Rashness can lead one to assume that deciding now is better than waiting on more information. And we must agree that at times, especially in crisis moments, we must make decisions sooner rather than later.  But don’t confuse decisiveness with making fast decisions.  Truly resolute leaders move forward only when they have the right amount of information to make the best decision.  Once they have that information, they move forward, not delaying any further.

Ecclesiastes 9:4 reminds us that “a living dog is better than a dead lion.”  A prudent leader can assess when risk is too high and avoid the danger.  Those who are not prudent move forward and suffer painful consequences.  Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (ESV)

Are you being prudent and wise or rash and foolish in your leadership decisions?  The Holy Spirit will help you discern the way forward.  Trust His voice and follow closely after Him as He guides you.

For more thoughts on leading with Kingdom wisdom:  Growing Kingdom Wisdom

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 7

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.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they seek to navigate the many issues of our day.

But, what does godly wisdom look like?  James describes seven characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The seventh and final manifestation of godly wisdom is that it is sincere.

This word, ‘sincere,’ means “without hypocrisy.”  Godly, wise leaders walk the talk.  They never say, “Do what I say, not what I do.”  They are authentic and genuine in all their ways.  They are always seeking to model for others what they want them to be and do.

This kind of wisdom is not duplicitous either in word of deed.  There is consistent integrity of words and deeds in every situation.  Jesus’ enemies used His integrity to try and trap Him, “They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity.  You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (see Luke 20:20ff  ESV)

What an amazing testimony to Jesus’ integrity in that His enemies tried to use it against Him!  If you had enemies, would they choose your integrity as a tool to oppose you?

By reflecting upon these seven manifestations of godly wisdom in the life of an individual, we can know if we are making progress in our pursuit.  While we may never arrive, there is always more growth and maturity needed, we can note progress.

These qualities are mile-markers that enable us to see increments of change as we seek to grow in wisdom and help others do the same.  Are you on the journey of intentionally pursuing godly wisdom for your life and leadership?  Are you making progress?

 

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 4

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.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they seek to navigate the many challenges of our day.

But, what does godly wisdom look like?  James describes seven characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The fourth manifestation of godly wisdom is that it is submissive.

Those Kingdom leaders with godly wisdom submit themselves to God as Lord in all areas of life and leadership.  The root of their submission is found in their humility – knowing that they are His Creation and they are given leadership responsibility as a stewardship to advance His purposes and for His glory.

Godly, wise leaders submit to the authority of God’s Word.  In our post-modern world we are told that all truth is relative and that there is no absolute truth.  Kingdom leaders reject this philosophy and base their leadership on the unchanging, final authority of the Bible.

God’s wisdom submits to the authority of earthly governments and spiritual leaders place over us, recognizing that they are established by God.  We submit to those leaders for they are appointed by God to watch over us and care for us (see Hebrews 13:17).  Note how Jesus modeled this from an early age regarding His submission to His parents.  “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.”   Luke 2:51  ESV

Submission does not mean we have to do whatever is dictated.  Certainly we can appeal to an authority over us (see Daniel’s appeal when asked to violate his convictions).  But, in our submission, having made our appeal, we submit to the authority of our leaders and entrust ourselves to God for the outcome.  Godly leaders do not lead rebellions or insurrections.

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.  Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.   1 Peter 5:5-7   ESV

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 3

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.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

Leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders especially need wisdom as they seek to navigate the social and legal ‘land mines’ of our day.

James describes seven characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to measure your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The third manifestation of godly wisdom is that it’s considerate.

Godly wisdom in Kingdom leaders shows itself as kindness and gentleness when dealing with others.  These leaders seek to honor Christ with their leadership and therefore are trying to model a life of love as Christ loves them.  “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness…”  2 Timothy 2:24-25  ESV

Godly wisdom is not harsh or mean-spirited.  It does not seek vengeance or pay back.  It does not flaunt its rights, but rather yields its rights to others, sacrificially serving at one’s own expense.

It is sensitive to its own weaknesses when seeing weaknesses in others.  These leaders recognize their own weaknesses and that tempers and sensitizes them to not criticize others.  “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”   Luke 6:42  ESV

It is not judgmental and seeks the best for others.  In personnel decision-making they consider both what is best for the work and what is best for the person.  If there is any doubt between the two, what is best for the individual rules, for they trust God to provide whatever resources are needed to accomplish His work.

Wisdom seeks to place others before self in all areas of life and service.  It is not self-promoting. These godly, wise Kingdom leaders give credit to others for work done.  They continually push the spotlight of attention onto others instead of themselves.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.   Titus 3:1-2   NIV  1984

7 Manifestations of Godly Wisdom – 1

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.       James 3:17   NIV 1984

The need for wisdom in leadership is an easy case to make, especially for any who have tried to lead.  The complexity of leadership in today’s ever-changing contexts calls for wisdom from Him who is its source.  Kingdom leaders desperately need wisdom as they seek to navigate the pitfalls and landmines of both the social and legal challenges of our day.

But, what does godly wisdom look like?  James describes seven manifestations or characteristics that paint a picture for Kingdom leaders on how to gauge your leadership (and others) against the standards of wisdom from heaven.

The first manifestation of godly wisdom is that it’s pure.  By pure we mean clean, uncontaminated, undefiled, not polluted, and holy.  This godly wisdom does not co-mingle the world’s wisdom with God’s wisdom. There is no duplicity in our leadership, leaving no room for accusations of false motives or deception.  We are to be ‘above reproach.”  (see 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:5-7)

Wisdom from above discerns the ways of the world from the ways of God.  Godly wisdom seeks to please the Lord in accomplishing His purposes for and through us in ways that are pleasing to Him.  At times these ways may run counter to the social or political tide of our days.  We must lead courageously during these times, without compromise, but also without a ‘martyr syndrome’ of seeking trouble just for the sake of our over-inflated egos.  We are to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (see Matthew 10:16)

Godly wisdom uses the Word of God as the unchanging standard — the rule for life and leadership and will submit itself to its authority.  The Bible is not seen as ‘a source’ for guidance, but rather, ‘the final source’ for instruction on how we must lead.  With today’s prevailing post-modern thought that there is no absolute truth, the Kingdom leader must boldly declare that there is one unchanging measuring rod, God’s Word.  Kingdom leaders who are wise will both know His Word and apply it in their lives first and then as they lead others.

Purity in leadership – it’s first on the list of characteristics for those who would seek to be Kingdom leaders.  Is it first on your list?

In Search of a Balanced Life

Did Jesus live a balanced life?  The following passages would seem to shed some light on the answer to this question.

And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him,for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.     Mark 3:9-10 ESV

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

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.     Mark 6:31-32   ESV

As Jesus’ popularity grew, crowds gathered to hear him teach and to seek healing from various diseases – both physical and spiritual.  Such were the numbers and the daily pressures that the Twelve were no doubt used for ‘crowd control.’  Jesus had to remind the Twelve that as they kept many adults from pressing in to try and touch Him, they were not to keep back the little children (see Mark 10:13-14).

To the outside observers, including Jesus’ immediate family members, at the time, He seemed to be ‘out of his mind.’  But, He was carrying out the mission for which He came.  It was just that they did not understand Him at that time.  We see later in Acts 1:14 that they came to believe and understand more completely.  He said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”  John 5:17  ESV

In the midst of the incredible demands upon Him, Jesus sought to lead the Twelve to periods of rest and solitude.  He knew the importance of ministry and serving from an overflow and reserve.  Yet, those ideals were often met with the pressing needs of others seeking His help.  It’s no wonder that He could fall sound asleep on a boat in the midst of a storm on the lake (Mark 4:37ff) or that the disciples had a hard time keeping their eyes open when asked to pray late into the night (Mark 14:37ff).

So, did Jesus live a balanced life?  It depends on what you mean by ‘balanced.”  Did Jesus have times of intense schedule and pressing demands?  Yes.  Did He appear to others to be ‘out of balance’ at times?  Yes.  But, He also sought to model for others one who worked hard and yet, took time away for rest.

Paul reminds us, “… I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”   Ephesians 4:1   ESV

Doing Well

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.     James 2:8   ESV

Last week we looked at Doing Good – especially in the context of Jesus who “went about doing good” (see Acts 10:38).  Doing good is ‘what’ Jesus did.  James draws our attention to the ‘how’ of that which we do.  We can know if we are doing well.

James sets the context for us by addressing the ‘second commandment’ (see Matthew 22:36-40) that sums up all the Law and the Prophets.  The greatest commandment is to love God with all that we have.  The second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself.  James refers to this as the “royal law of Scripture.”  Quite the label, for sure!

Note that we will fulfill this ‘royal law’ if we actually do it.  It’s not enough just to know it, give it intellectual assent and agree with it.  We have to put it into practice.  We are to love others as we love ourselves.  In so doing, we are doing well.  So, what does this look like for Kingdom leaders?

First, it means that our leadership is not focused upon ourselves, but upon others.  It’s not about ‘me, the leader’ but rather, it’s about those we lead.  Yes, I love myself.  But, that is the standard from which to measure my love for others.  To paraphrase the Golden Rule, we lead others the way we would like to be led” (see Luke 6:31).

Secondly, we use our leadership authority and influence to serve and help others in the midst of accomplishing our mission.  Yes, finishing the task is important.  But, we don’t do so at the expense of those we lead or serve with.  Those we lead are not a means to an end (mission accomplished), but they too are an end – in loving and serving them as we complete mission together.

If we lead others well – loving them as we love ourselves – and if we lead others the way we would want someone to lead us – if we use our leadership to serve, not use those we lead, then we are doing well.

As you go about doing good, are you doing well?

 

Doing Good

… God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.  He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.     Acts 10:38  ESV

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.     1 Thessalonians 5:15   ESV

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.   Galatians 6:10   ESV

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.   Ephesians 2:10   ESV

Doing good is not a way to salvation of our souls… let’s be clear.  But, doing good is to be a lifestyle of those of us who have put our faith and trust in Christ.  Faith in Christ is the engine of the ‘salvation train’, but a train car that follows that engine is good works towards others.

Note that Jesus modeled doing good to others.  His message was one of faith in Him as the Messiah and salvation as a free gift, not by following works of the Law.  But, He did good to those around Him – healing and giving Himself away to those in need.

Paul reminds us also that we are to be doing good to everyone – especially those who are of the household of faith.  It’s interesting that ‘doing good’ is not defined.  It’s assumed that we will understand what is good to do and conversely, what is not good.

As Kingdom leaders we have access to resources and authority to do good in ways others can’t.  We can make the exception to the policy, we can reward others when not expected, we can help when others are incapable of helping themselves, and we can open doors of opportunity for those who need a boost.

Doing good to others is the lifestyle of all Christ followers and a part of our mission on earth.  And it is the special privilege of Kingdom leaders who represent the King of Kings!  Are you doing good?

Help – I Need a Mentor!

Many a conversation with next generation emerging leaders sooner or later comes to their felt need to be mentored for their development.  This is frequently followed by a complaint that there is no one to help them.  “I’ve looked and asked, and no one is willing to help me,” they say.  What to do?

First of all, the absence of a mentor is no excuse for not pursuing your own development.  There are multiple resources available to us online for growth.  We can read biographies of leaders and glean valuable leadership lessons.  We can do personal bible studies of leaders, both good and bad, and seek to learn from their examples.  But, it is nice to have someone to interact with – a mentor who can bring perspective and personal help.

Yes, leaders are busy people with very full schedules.  Few are looking for mentoring opportunities.  What to do?  Here’s my suggestion.

Identify someone who you think can be of some help.  Approach them with this question, “Could we meet for me to ask you some questions about how I can be a better leader?”  Note that you’re not asking them to mentor you.  Many busy leaders will immediately decline this offer… they have too many things to do!  But they all have to eat sometime, so invite them to a meal (you offer to pay!) and come with specific questions.  Take good notes and reflect on their answers for your growth and development.

I’ve done this over the years, targeting specific leaders for specific topics of development.  Topics I’ve benefited from are things like:  how to work with an executive assistant, how to select a leadership team, how to lead a meeting, how to manage your schedule, how to lead a geographically dispersed team, lessons learned about travel, how to handle communication demands, how to arrange an office, and many, many more.  All were practical and immediately applicable.

Another frequent objection is that they have never done this type of mentoring.  To answer this I’ve said, “I realize that this may be new for you.  But, you’ve been preparing for this all of your life.  It’s my job to get from you what you have learned by asking you questions.  All you have to do is answer my questions.”  This makes it doable, as they realize that they are not expected to prep anything – they’ve already done the preparation.

Don’t let the absence of a mentor stop you from your own growth and development!  Get after it!!!  And if you do have someone, pursue them – now!!!

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