Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Personal development”

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!

God’s Favor on your Leadership

[ 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 7:46-47

David, the man after God’s own heart, enjoyed the favor of God on his leadership. He saw God fulfill his destiny when as a teen he was anointed by Samuel and declared to be the king after Saul. He refused to take the kingship by force, waiting upon God to fulfill what He had promised through Samuel. He saw the Lord deliver him multiple times from Saul’s plots to kill him. He saw God open doors of sanctuary among his enemies and spare him from having to fight against Saul. The tabernacle built by Moses was now under his control and he desired to build a permanent home for the place where God met with His leaders.

All of these instances and others not recounted showed God’s favor towards David. With Joseph we saw God’s favor was manifested in the midst of many life trials. With David we see God’s favor in opening multiple doors of blessing and opportunity. It appears that David presumed he would also be the one to build the permanent temple for God instead of the ‘temporary’ (mobile) tabernacle. But it was not to be. David was told that it would be his son, his successor, who would build the temple for God. How surprising! How disappointing!

David was not given the opportunity to construct the temple in Jerusalem that would become God’s ‘tent of meeting’ where the visible presence of God would dwell. It would be another. David made the plans and acquired the materials, but it was left to Solomon to execute the plan and build the temple. Even though David ‘enjoyed God’s favor there were still limits to what God permitted him to accomplish.

How about you? You may sense God’s hand upon you and your leadership, but that does not mean that everything you desire will receive God’s blessing. God has purposes and ways that are not ours. And we are to submit to Him and His plans, not just assume and expect Him to ‘rubber stamp’ all of our leadership initiatives. Even though we have seen His favor in other areas, there may be some where He says ‘no,’ this is not for you to execute.

It is how we respond when God says ‘no’ that reveals our hearts. Do we wave our raised fist against God and demand He grant our desires? Or are we more clever and think that we can somehow maneuver things to make it happen without His favor? Or, do we humbly submit our desires to His plans and ways, trusting that His ways are right and perfect?

It’s a matter of the heart. How’s yours?

Asking for and Accepting Help

As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. … They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. Luke 19:29-30, 35 NIV

As Jesus neared Jerusalem on Sunday of the Passion Week (Palm Sunday), he needed help. To fulfill the prophesy of Zechariah (see Zech. 9:9), He needed a colt to ride into the city. So, He asked (directed) two of the Twelve to go before Him into the village and bring back the colt for Him. They did as directed and return with the colt, placing their cloaks upon the back of the colt and then lifted Jesus up onto the back of the animal. Jesus then rode the colt into Jerusalem as people laid palm branches in front of the colt, shouting and praising God as He entered the city.

Note the help Jesus needed in the recruitment of resources (a colt to ride) and the assistance He needed to get onto the animal. Here is the King of Kings asking for and accepting help from others. What humility!

Many Kingdom leaders are passionate to use their leadership to serve others. This is good and right – an admirable motivation. Yet, many struggle to ask for help from others or accept the help from others. They are used to providing help and find it difficult to ask for themselves the help they need. Perhaps it’s our ego or just habit that we don’t ask for ourselves. Regardless of why we don’t ask for help, this was not so with Jesus!

What help do you need now to accomplish the mission God has called you to? Have you asked the Lord for His help? Have you asked others for their help also? It’s not ‘either-or’ but ‘both-and’ for your requests. Is your pride preventing you from asking others to help you? Have others offered their help but you are reluctant to accept it? Why? Perhaps the Lord is moving them to come to your aid?

Ask and you will receive!

We Left All

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” Luke 18:28 NIV

A very wealthy man had just walked away from Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. He went away sad for he was very wealthy. Jesus lamented about how difficult it is for those with much to enter the Kingdom of God. This comment stirred Peter’s response. “We have left everything…” he said.

Note that Jesus did not correct Peter’s statement about having left everything, for they certainly had. For the previous two years the Twelve had left their professions to be trained as apostles who would carry the leadership of the movement Jesus started. They had left family, friends, spouses (at least we know Peter was married), physical security, and all that was familiar to their previous lifestyle to be His disciples. Yes, they had left all.

But contrast this with what Jesus instructs them about provision on the evening of the Last Supper. In Luke 22:35-36 we read, “Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Wait! What? Why would Jesus affirm “leaving all” in one context and now He instructs them to get your ‘stuff’ together and go well provisioned?

With the rich young ruler it was not a matter of how much ‘stuff’ he had. Rather it was his heart’s attitude about his ‘stuff.’ His wealth has a central position in his heart and Jesus pointed this out by challenging him to leave it all and follow Him. The Twelve had previously demonstrated that Jesus was central in their hearts (Judas being the exception). Thus, they were instructed to gather, not divest. It was a heart issue, not a materials issue.

As Kingdom leaders we must continually self-examine our heart’s relationship to our ‘stuff.’ It’s easy to fall in love with your ‘stuff’ and move Jesus from His rightful spot on the throne of our life to the margin. How’s your heart today? What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about your relationship to your ‘stuff’?

Aging and Retirement – 3

By 1935 the Depression was in full bloom and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had to address the issue of caring for older American workers who had lost their savings in the Depression and had little support to make it to old age.  The Social Security Act of 1935 established the age of 65 as the retirement age for American workers.[1]  It is also interesting to note that the life expectancy for American workers in 1935 was 58 for men and 62 for women.   And now, with the Amended Social Security Act of 1988, the retirement age is gradually being raised to 67 by the year 2025 with life expectancy for men being 76 and women being 81. [2]

The concept of retirement from work into a season of leisure, self-enjoyment and self-fulfillment took root in the 1950s in America.  Workers were encouraged to save for the future with those savings being used for self-indulgence and personal pleasure – a reward for the hard work one had to ‘endure’ during their working career.  Communities for ‘seniors’ emerged and the concept of a leisurely season of retirement after a work career ended became a destination. 

With increasing longevity and life-expectancy growing dramatically due to improvements in health care, workers can now expect that their retirement years may be longer than their working years.  Increasing cost of living, increasing medical costs, and poor financial planning lead to older American workers seeking to extend their working years so that they have income to live and possibly save for a longer than expected life.  Seniors working as big box store greeters and counter help at McDonald’s are now common. 

The fracturing of the American family and the geographical scattering of children from their parents compounds any possible means of caring for a rapidly aging population.  Few churches or ministries have adequate means or a vision for caring for the older members.  What commitments do we have to our aging staff? How do we honor them and honor God in our relationships? Remember the Golden Rule of Luke 6:31! What goes around comes around and we will all be the “old one” someday.


[1] N.Y. Times, The History of Retirement, From Early Man to A.A.R.P.  March 21, 1999

[2] Life Expectancy in USA in 2010; http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005148.html

Divided Loyalty

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. Luke 16:13-15 NIV

Jesus very pointedly addresses a core issue for the Pharisees. Note that Jesus points out their heart issue – they loved money. The accumulation of personal wealth was a high value for them. No doubt there were some who questioned this value, perhaps among the Pharisees themselves. But they justified their choices and behavior, making excuses and giving reasons that on the surface sounded plausible.

This value and behavior had become commonplace among the Pharisees, for Luke notes that they as a group all loved money. This love of money was seen by others around them, but they had become blinded to this conflict of interest. For Jesus points out that their root issue was not one of behavior or lifestyle, but rather one of the heart. They had become lovers of money instead of lovers of God.

Jesus rebukes their acceptance of loving money by saying that no one can serve two Masters. You cannot have a divided loyalty. Loving God and serving Him is not compatible with loving money and serving the accumulation of wealth.

Few Kingdom leaders wake up one day and decide to love money instead of loving God. Rather, it is a slow shift in values and heart direction, incrementally drawing us away from our first love. Little choices made daily over a long time frame gradually allows new values to replace old. We compare our choices and lifestyles with others, focusing only on those that support our own values while ignoring those who live sacrificial, self-denying lives. We justify ourselves saying, “Well, no need to get too radical here.”

Our hearts speak through our value-driven choices and resulting behaviors. What are you modeling for those you lead and for the lost world that is looking for authentic faith? How’s your heart? What do you really love in this life? Or should we say, “Who do you love?”

Deferring to Others – A Sign of Humility

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11 ESV

Have you noticed a difference in how you are treated by others now that you are a recognized leader in the Kingdom? Before accepting this calling you got little attention from others when attending an event. But now that you have this title or role, others want your attention and usher you to special seats at certain events. It’s easy to assume that you are somehow more important and your ego will crave this type of special attention.

Note that Jesus observed the banquet attendees clamoring for seats of honor. His parable addressed this attitude of self-promotion and self-aggrandizement. His summary was not to diminish the honor that came with certain seats, but rather, it was how you attained that honor. If you sought the honor, you were disqualified. Better to defer that honor to another and then receive it back later.

It’s right that you as a leader be given certain prominence in meetings but be careful about your heart. If you expect to be treated as special, you will have a rude awakening when you are no longer the leader and not given special treatment, for that now goes to your successor. If you continue to pursue this attention or if you think you deserve it (“I sacrificed for them, thus they owe me”), be careful, for you may be publicly embarrassed when others take your place.

Better to defer to others, letting them have the honor due them for their current role, not expecting anything for your previous service. God knows your sacrificial service and He will reward. Then, should you be asked into a place of honor, watch out! Your ego can convince you that, “Well, it’s about time someone noticed me! I’m an important person you know!” It can be so subtle!

Be wise and be circumspect, especially in public gatherings. Defer places of honor and special treatment to others. Never be self-seeking or self-promoting!

Fearful?

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:4-7 ESV

Kingdom leaders will often have access to a lot of information that those they lead do not. Because of our strategic role, we have to be looking forward to the horizon and seeking to discern what’s coming that will impact our mission sooner or later? This forward look for potential threats can lead to a reactive, fear-based leadership rather than a proactive, faith-based leadership.

In the passage above Jesus reminds us (His friends) that it is a matter of perspective that can help us deal with our fears. His reminder is that physical death is not something to fear, for after one dies there is nothing more that can be done to us. For believers in Christ, death is a promotion! Rather, we should fear God for He is the one who holds our eternal destiny, not our current temporal existence that ends with our last breath.

And then Jesus brings perspective. He contrasts the fate of a small bird sold for a very cheap price to our own fate. Those seemingly insignificant small birds are not forgotten by God. Neither will we be forgotten by Him, for we are much more valuable than birds! We are so valuable and He is so intimately acquainted with us that He regularly counts the number of hairs on our head!

What fears are you seeing on your leadership horizon that keep you awake at night? What fears are distracting you from your focus on Christ and His promises? What threats are you aware of that cause your neck muscles to tense, your stomach to churn, and your blood pressure to rise?

The reality of the Lordship of Jesus Christ is the answer to all our fears. He is the Alpha and Omega. He reigns over all of His creation. Nothing is too hard for Him. Submit your fears to Him and lead out in faith, not fear!

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34 ESV

What’s Your Speaking Fee?

Kingdom leaders are often given invitations to teach and preach the Word of God to others. This is a humbling and sobering responsibility. “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God…” 1 Peter 4:11 NIV

There may come invitations to speak to groups outside of your normal ministry audience. How do you process those invitations? How do you respond to the question about speaking fees? Below are some guidelines that have helped me over the years regarding speaking invitations.

  1. Receive the invitation graciously and with thankfulness. Respond promptly so the event planner knows if they need to keep looking for another speaker.
  2. If you already have another commitment, say ‘no’ graciously and if desired, suggest another speaker for the event.
  3. Never accept or reject an invitation to minister the Word of God to others based upon the size of the audience or the amount of the honorarium.
  4. If choosing between different invitations on the same dates, select based upon most alignment with your personal mission statement.
  5. When asked whether you have a ‘speaking fee’ here is how I respond.
    • “I would hope that you will be able to pay for my travel expenses (flights, rental car, personal car mileage, meals, lodging).”
    • “Beyond these expenses I don’t charge a fee to speaking. Whatever your event budget allows is fine. All honorariums are gratefully accepted.”
  6. Because I don’t make a living from my speaking ministry, all income from this is ‘extra’ income. Our donor base generously supports our personal ministry and should I accept additional speaking engagements outside of our regular ministry responsibilities, any income generated is extra.
  7. Should you be making a living from your speaking and writing (i.e. you are an author and are invited to speak re your book contents), then it seems a speaking fee could be appropriate. Just be sure that the amount charged for speaking is appropriate for the audience. Religious non-profits don’t have the same budgets as corporate enterprises.
  8. Entrust your provision and reward to the Lord. He will provide for you and your family whether you have a ‘speaking fee’ or not.

Remember the lesson from the leadership of Nehemiah who entrusted himself to the Lord –

But the earlier governors–those preceding me–placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. … I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people. Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people. Nehemiah 5:15, 18-19 NIV

Accepting Honor Graciously

Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. Luke 5:29 NIV

Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor… John 12:2 NIV

Notice the many times Jesus was placed in a position of honor. Note also how graciously and ‘easily’ He accepted the honor and praise of others. Whether it was a banquet held in His honor by Matthew the tax collector or a dinner given in His honor at the home of His friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary – He readily accepted these honoring events and moved among those in attendance easily.

Jesus accepted these and other acts of honor and thanksgiving directed at Him without any sense of false humility – “Oh not for me, to God be the glory…” “Oh, I am but a humble servant…” Rather, He was ‘comfortable in His own skin,’ knowing that He was worthy of the praise and honor of others, He readily accepted their accolades.

Yet, you say to me, “Well of course, He was Jesus and I’m not!” You are right in saying you are not Jesus! But it seems that often those Kingdom leaders who do much for others in their service have difficulty in receiving thanks or honor in return for their service. They serve not to seek the honor or praise of others. But for some it can be difficult to receive their gratitude for the servant leadership offered.

It is right for those we have helped in our leadership to want to express their gratitude for our help. When they come to you with some expression of thankfulness, a simple response can be all that’s needed. “Thanks so much for this. I’m so encouraged to know that I was of some help. Thank you.”

That’s all that’s needed – a simple “thank you.” And if someone were to throw a banquet in your honor and say very nice things about you, remember this –

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NIV

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