Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Personal development”

Leadership Envy

The disciples of John the Baptist saw a problem.  Many of those involved in John’s ministry were now leaving him and going to be with Jesus.  Note their concern as expressed to John, “They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan–the one you testified about–look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (John 3:26 NIV)

With the decreasing crowd size, John could have been intimidated or discouraged with Jesus’ growing ministry, if he found his identity in his ministry and its ‘success’ measured in numbers.  But his response showed clearly that his identity was anchored in being the Lord’s servant and in doing His will regardless of ministry results – many or few.  John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. … He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:27, 30 ESV)

Kingdom leadership envy, jealousy, comparison – feeling better than or less than others, competitive spirit, or bitterness because of another’s ministry success can all emerge if we are not settled in our own calling, contribution, identity, and gifting.   When others (especially peers) seem to ‘succeed’ while we languish or struggle, these feelings can emerge, take root in our hearts, and ruin us.  It is for the Lord’s glory that we labor, not our own!

Below are some reminders on the topic that can be of help in keeping the right perspective.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”  (Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.  For who sees anything different in you?  What do you have that you did not receive?  If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?  (1 Corinthians 4:6-7 ESV)

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  (Matthew 25:14-15 ESV)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  (Romans 12:3 NIV)

Is there someone you are ‘secretly’ in competition with?  Is there someone you are comparing yourself to?  Are you envious of another’s success?

Repent!!!

Being and Doing

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”     1 Peter 1:14-16  NIV 1984

As followers of Christ, we are called both to ‘be’ and to ‘do.’  But note the order!

We are first to be holy for the One who calls us and whom we confess as Lord and Savior is holy.  Doing flows out of being.  If we are not holy on the ‘inside,’ in our hearts and minds, then our actions, our ‘doing’ is at best hypocritical, at worst, deceitful.

Kingdom leaders focus on being with Jesus before they seek to serve others for Jesus!  It is this abiding with Him that He reminds us of in John 15.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5  ESV  Notice the order – abide in Him….bears much fruit…. otherwise, apart from Him we can do nothing.

Leaders are doers.  We are never satisfied with the status quo, always seeking to change, improve, advance, accomplish, and further the mission we have been entrusted to steward.  It is this default to ‘doing’ that at times overrides the ‘being’ aspect of our lives.  The branch separates from the vine and assumes it will continue to bear fruit.  How foolish!

The demands upon us are straining our remaining closely attached to the Vine of Life.  Don’t let the chaos of the day consume your soul.  Remember the exhortation of Joshua to the leaders he was about to leave, “Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God.”   Joshua 23:11  ESV

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.   Hebrews 3:1  NIV 1984

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…   Hebrews 12:2  NIV 1984

How’s your soul?

Are you fixed and focused on being with Him and knowing Him more deeply?

Prayer Life of a Kingdom Leader

It would seem that one of the most challenging spiritual disciplines for Kingdom leaders to build consistency in is prayer.  Often our prayers are more perfunctory in nature, similar to saying grace before a meal, but without much unction or personal depth and lacking strategic intent.

We are reminded in Ecclesiastes 5:2 (ESV), “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”  Though we may pray with words, God is listening to our hearts.

In Luke 18:1 (NIV), Luke interprets the meaning of the parable of the persistent widow going before the judge, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  Jesus knows it is hard for us to persevere in prayer when answers are a long time coming.  Therefore, we are encouraged to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking until we receive, find and the door finally opens (see Luke 11:9-10).

Here are three foci for the prayer life of a Kingdom leader:

Pray for Yourself

  • Personal Growth and Change – Christlike character, Wisdom – Galatians 5:22-23; James 1:5
  • Personal Promises – 2 Corinthians 1:20; Acts 13:46-47
  • Personal Needs and Desires of Your Heart   –  Philippians 4:19; Psalm 37:4

Pray for Others

  • Family members –  Matthew 10:34-39; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30
  • Those we lead
    • Their Spiritual Growth and Change – Christlike character, Wisdom
    • Lordship of Christ in all areas of life as they follow Him
    • Vision for Disciplemaking and Spiritual Generations – that they may see the harvest
    • Their Personal Needs and Desires
  • Lost friends and acquaintances

Pray for the World-wide Harvest and Laborers

  • Current Laborers (disciplemakers) in the harvest –  Matthew 9:35-38
  • New Laborers (disciplemakers) for the harvest – Isaiah 6:8
  • Surrender of yourself and your willingness to volunteer for engagement in the harvest
  • Strategic prayer for unreached peoples – that they will have the Gospel –  Isaiah 49:6; Psalm 2:8
    • Joshua Project
    • Population of the world‎: ‎7.75 Billion
    • People Groups of the world‎: ‎17,441
    • Unreached Groups‎: ‎7,414
    • % Unreached Groups‎: 42.‎5%
    • People in Unreached:  3.23 Billion
    • People in Unreached:  41.6%

This is not a prayer time, but rather, the prayer life of a Kingdom leader!  Prayer is a moment-by-moment connection and communication with the living God.  It is learning to cultivate that connection as we go throughout our busy days.  Yes, we will have focused concentrated prayer times, but we want to establish a prayer lifestyle, learning to pray continuously as we go about our days.

This is not saying prayers, but rather, praying – pouring out our hearts to God!  “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  Romans 8:26  ESV

So, how’s your prayer life?

Not Chosen

Therefore, it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” So, they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.     Acts 1:21-26  NIV

It’s post-resurrection and seemingly during the period between the Lord’s ascension and the Day of Pentecost when the Church is birthed with the coming of the Holy Spirit.  An operational detail needed to be addressed, for the leadership team had an empty position to be filled.  Judas had betrayed the Lord and died, and now the Eleven needed to become the Twelve again by selecting a replacement.

They discussed the criteria for candidates, noting that anyone considered had to have been with Jesus from His baptism by John the Baptist through the ascension from the Mt. of Olives.  This narrowed the list down to two men – Barsabbas and Matthias.  They prayed, asking the Lord to direct and show them who He had chosen for this role.  They ‘voted’ and the lot fell to Matthias.

Think about Barsabbas who was not chosen.  This was now his second time of not making the ‘final cut.’  He had been with Jesus since His baptism and was among the crowd of Jesus’ disciples when Jesus chose the Twelve (see Luke 6:12-19).  But when Jesus called the names of those who would be on His apostolic training team, his name was not called.  No doubt he would have been disappointed, but maybe relieved as well?

But now the list was down to just two people – he and Matthias.  The 120 or so in the selection council were the committed ones and he was well thought of by them, having made it to the ‘finalist’ list.  However, once again Barsabbas was not selected by God and his peers to lead.  Ouch!

God selects the leaders (see Daniel 2:21) and Barsabbas had to wrestle with the reality that God had not chosen him – twice.  Did it mean that God disapproved of him?  Did it mean that God did not have a contribution for him to make?  These kinds of experiences can be unsettling or depressing for Kingdom leaders, for all of us have ambitions and when these are not fulfilled we are disappointed.

Think also of James and John asking to be placed in the top two positions at Jesus’ right and left hand.  Jesus did not rebuke them for their brash ambition or seeking to jump the line ahead of their brothers.  Rather, He said, “But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”  (NLT)  James and John were not chosen for these places in the Kingdom.

All Kingdom leaders will have multiple opportunities in our leadership careers where we are not chosen for a role and the mantle of leadership falls on someone else’s shoulder.  How we respond to this is key.  Do we sulk, get bitter, or angry against God?  Do we allow a divisive attitude to emerge and not wholeheartedly support the leadership of the chosen one?  We may even appear supportive on the outside, but in our hearts we are jealous or envious of the chosen one.

Have you had the experience of not being chosen, yet?  If not, then be prepared – it’s coming.  If so, how’s your heart?

 

Why Are You So Afraid?

Fear is a God-given emotion that has the benefit of protecting us from potential threats.  Only God does not know fear, for nothing is a threat to Him.  To be afraid of something is not sin.  But fear can become sin if we let it control us.  So, when Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid,” He is not suggesting that we ignore our fears.  That would be impossible.  But He is saying that we are not to be controlled by fear, rather, act in faith – faith in Him who knows no fear!

In the gospel of Mark, we find these references to fearful situations that the disciples faced.  Reflect on the circumstances of each incident that created the fear response.

Mark 4:40 ESV     He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  –  fear for physical safety

Mark 6:50 ESV      …for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  –  fear from a very unusual experience

Mark 9:32 ESV      But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.  –  fear of being thought of as stupid or incompetent

Mark 10:32 ESV     And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him…  –  fear of possible death from persecution

Mark 16:8 ESV     And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  –  fear of other’s opinions

Kingdom leaders face fear daily.  Nothing new here.  The only question we must answer is how do we respond?  Does our fear control us and dictate our actions?  Do we look to our own resources to deal with our perceived threat?  Or do we use these situations to remind us of our need for help from the Lord and the empowerment that can come only from Him?

We are not talking about putting on some ‘brave front’ or false bravado.  It’s OK to acknowledge whatever threat we encounter.  Foolishness denies the reality.  But faith names the threat and calls upon the Lord to help.  He has promised never to leave or forsake us.  He has promised to answer when we cry for His help.

… and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.   Psalm 50:15 ESV

What are you afraid of today?  Call for His help!

A Kingdom Leader’s Perspective

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.   Ecclesiastes 7:14 NIV

When times are good, we tend to be focused on the immediate and what is seen.  We are enjoying life and on ‘cruise control’ in our leadership.  We make our plans and execute them with vigor.  We testify that God is with us and point to our results as evidence of His blessing.  Our prayer life is full of thanksgiving and praise for the good that we are experiencing.

But then something happens.  Life and ministry turn difficult.  We face unforeseen challenges and difficulties.  Our well-proven plans don’t work the way they used to.  We compare previous outcomes with our current ones and see a downward trend line.  “Is there sin in the camp?” we ask.  It must be something we are doing wrong.  We must not be working hard enough.  And so, we double our efforts and trust that we will turn the trend line towards the positive.  But still nothing seems to change. How discouraging.

Why would God allow such a thing?  Paul had times of great fruitfulness and times of difficulty in his ministry.  Here’s his perspective in 2 Corinthians 1:7-11 (NIV) on why he faced the hard times.  “And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

So, when the times are bad, the Lord is creating an opportunity for us to run to Him in prayer, trusting that He will deliver us from our current trial.  With these turbulent days greatly impacting all of us, one question arises.  “How’s your prayer life?”

So… How’s your prayer life?

Making Wise Personnel Decisions – 3

We continue our discussion on making wise personnel decisions as Kingdom leaders. Today’s topic is one where we definitely need wisdom from above – James 1:5.

Discerning between care or development needs versus too costly a use of limited resources 

  1. When we use the term ‘too costly,’ what does this mean?  If a staff needs professional counseling, for example, who pays for the counseling and for how long?  What type of outcomes/change are we expecting from this counseling that will determine whether they stay or leave?  Define the process, responsibilities and outcomes before you start the process!
  2. Do we send/allow staff to pursue advanced degrees (i.e. leadership, counseling, seminary degrees) as part of their personal development? There are legal implications, labor laws that apply here – especially when using donor funds (untaxed, organizational funds) to pay for degrees that are not relevant to current roles and may prepare them for different jobs.  Know the law before you give permission on this!
  3. When a staff or employee fails to fulfill their responsibilities, we would hope that there will be change/improvement given more time and good supervision. We are sometimes tempted to think that changing the environment (i.e. job or supervisor) will bring improvement, but, in my experience, this rarely helps.
  4. We want to help people succeed by resourcing them well.  Jesus said, “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden. The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”   Luke 13:6-9  NLT
  5. Note the attempt to bring fruitfulness to the barren tree within a specific time frame.  Three years of patiently expecting results were now coupled with an additional year given for change with added attention and ‘fertilizer’ from the gardener.  But, there were limits. If there is not the expected change after the additional year of help, then the gardener is to ‘cut it down.’
  6. What to do when a leader violates trust – for example, demonstrates a moral failure? There is no ‘formula’ for this situation.  We must be wise and visit this on a case-by-case basis. Restoration of the fallen or wounded is our primary goal and we would want to have a strong bias towards this. We don’t want to ‘shoot our wounded.’  When a leader sins, we can and should seek to restore them to fellowship with their appropriate repentance and time for healing.  But the question arises on whether we should restore them to leadership once a trust is broken?  Prudence and wisdom would seem to guide us to evaluate the heart and actions of the individual as well as the nature of trust that was broken.  As in all complex personnel issues, the answer ‘ it depends’ means we need the guidance of the Spirit to discern our course of action.
  7. How do we act in love to those leaders who have broken trust? It is not necessarily loving to ‘forgive and forget.’  Certainly there will be a ‘disciplining’ of those who have broken trust.  The Lord does discipline those He loves (Hebrews 12:1-13).  But His discipline is not unending and it does yield change – the ‘fruit of righteousness.’
  8. We can expect a difference of opinions on what to do. Those with mercy and compassion gifts may not want to fire or lose someone from the team or mission.  They may tend to think that with the right care, given more time and help we will see lasting change and the person be recovered.  A different view from those with more prophetic, exhortation or leadership gifts may emphasize mission over person and not want to risk entrusting leadership authority and responsibility to someone who has previously proven unfaithful.  These are always difficult decisions.
  9. A general principle here is Luke 6:31 – “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”  The Golden Rule of Leadership is – Lead others the way you would want to be led.

Year End Reflection

What a year 2020 has been!!!!  As we end one and begin a new calendar year, it’s good to pause and reflect upon what was and what we hope will be.  It is through reflection that we can gain perspective and see more clearly the overarching, God-orchestrated, macro movements of our lives.

Leaders are often too busy to stop and reflect.  We always have more things to do and people to see.  We take one item off of the do-list and add three more!  Who has time to stop and think?

Today…..now is the time to stop and reflect upon who you are becoming and what you are doing!  Your personal diary, journal or devotional notebook can be of great help to you as you look back and observe themes or topics the Lord has been addressing in you.  Here are some questions to get you started in this reflection time.

Are you satisfied with your own personal spiritual walk and growth?  More importantly, is Jesus pleased with your pursuit of Him?  How’s your current pace of life?  Is it sustainable long-term?  Do you have a margin in your schedule?  Are you living and leading from an overflow?  How’s your family doing?  Are you paying the price to experience the marriage you committed to on your wedding day?  Are you investing deeply in your children and grandchildren, knowing that the years for significant influence are rapidly passing you by?

What fears are you trying to ignore related to your leadership?  Are you leading with faith and courage?  Are you more concerned about your reputation or God’s glory?  Is the vision of where you are leading to focused or foggy?  Do you have a team that is unified and empowered around a shared vision?  Are you making progress in the God-given mission that you intended to accomplish?

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

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.    Hebrews 12:1-2  NIV

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Other Side of God’s Promises

But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers.  And none of those who despised me shall see it. … I, the LORD, have spoken.  Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.    Numbers 14:21-23, 35  ESV

We love to emphasize the goodness and generosity of God demonstrated by His faithful fulfillment of His promises to those who receive them by faith.  He does meet our needs, grant us desires according to His good and perfect will for us and do above and beyond what we could ever ask or imagine.  Thanks be to God for His unspeakable grace poured out upon us through faith in Christ!

But there is another side to this topic that is often neglected; one that is rooted in the same character of God that we love so much.  Yes, the Lord is faithful to fulfill His promises – all His promises.  And He promises to bring retribution and justice on those who disobey Him, those who willfully put Him to the test and rebel against Him.

In the above passage we note that God had promised those who He delivered from the bondage of Egypt a Promised Land inheritance.  But when the 12 spies returned with their report after completing their forty-day mission, ten (the majority) spread fear, doubt and disobedience regarding their future.  Two, Joshua and Caleb (the minority) reminded all that though there were challenges in occupying the land, the land was all that God promised and that one with God is a majority!

The people chose to believe the majority report, disobeyed God and received the consequences of their disobedience.  God promised them that there would be severe consequences for their disobedience and He was faithful to His promises.

The justice of God demands that He never ignore disobedience or show partiality, for to do so would be injustice and contrary to His very nature.  He will and does punish sin.  Let us tremble at that reality and praise Him that we are delivered from His wrath by grace in Christ.  For it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!  (Hebrews 10:31)

May we who lead others, remind those we influence about the promises and faithfulness of God.  May we be true to the whole message of God’s faithfulness, the pleasant and ‘not so pleasant’ realities and warn others of the consequences for disobedience.

Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.   Exodus 23:2  NIV

“But my righteous one will live by faith.  And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”  But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.    Hebrews 10:38-39  NIV

Giving Thanks

This week we in the U.S. celebrate our annual Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.  President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.

This year, ‘the year of crazy,’ one might think that we have less to be thankful for when compared to previous years.  Below are some passages that help my attitude and perspective on our current 2020 state of affairs, helping me again realize that I/we have much to give thanks for.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  ESV

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!    1 Chronicles 16:34  ESV

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.    Psalm 7:17  ESV

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.    Psalm 9:1  ESV

In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.    Psalm 44:8  ESV

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.    Psalm 79:13  ESV

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.    Psalm 86:12  ESV

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!    Psalm 97:12  ESV

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!  Give thanks to him; bless his name!    Psalm 100:4  ESV

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.    Psalm 103:11-14  ESV

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!    Psalm 107:1  ESV

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.    Psalm 118:28  ESV

Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever.    Psalm 136:3 ESV

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!    Psalm 145:10  ESV

… fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.    Isaiah 41:10  ESV

… a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.    Isaiah 42:3  ESV

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.    1 Corinthians 1:4  ESV

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.    Revelation 11:17  ESV

May your thanksgiving be a daily experience, and not an annual event!

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