Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Personal development”

Fig Tree Prayer Lessons

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  Mark 11:20-25 ESV

When Jesus cursed the fig tree after not finding any fruit on it, His disciples took note (see Mark 11:12-14).  Upon passing by the tree the following day, Peter draws everyone’s attention to the withered tree. Jesus used the opportunity to instruct them in some key principles of prayer.

1. Jesus begins the fig tree lesson with a reminder that the object of their prayer of faith is God Himself.  It is God who answers and moves mountains, not our faith.  We just need have the faith to ask!  Jesus did not say, “Have faith!” – but rather, “Have faith in God!”

2. He goes on to remind us that we must bring our requests before the Lord.  We must ask! Jesus assumes that we will ask specifically – “Lord, move this mountain!”  While this may seem obvious, James rebukes us with, “…You do not have, because you do not ask.”  James 4:2 ESV

3. Jesus now instructs His followers that when making our petitions we are not to doubt in our heart that God will answer.  This does not mean that we have to self-brainwash ourselves trying to remove all doubt.  But the exhortation is to avoid a type of doubt that says, “I know this is a waste of time, but just in case, I’ll make my request.”  That type of praying sees the act of prayer as a kind of good luck charm or perfunctory act.  God is not honored with such requests.

4.  Next Jesus reminds us that instead of doubting, we are to believe in our heart that our prayers will be granted.  Even more, He says, we are to believe that we have already received the answer.  This is an attitude of expectancy from the Lord based upon His promises, faithfulness, love and generosity towards us. It is rooted in the reality, “… If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Romans 8:31 ESV

5. Lastly, Jesus states that unresolved conflicts and a failure to forgive those who have wronged us will hinder our prayers.  The Holy Spirit will remind us as we pray of those who we are to forgive. (see Matthew 5:23-24 and 1 Peter 3:19)

Certainly Jesus had much more to say about the subject of prayer (see Matthew 6 and Luke 11) .  But it is important to note that during the last week of His public ministry, He taught His followers about prayer as illustrated by a withered fig tree.

 

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

The Lord is My Shepherd

Below is one of my favorite Psalms and one that is well-known to many.  Perhaps it’s time to once again reflect and meditate on the great truths found here.  Given the turbulent times we all find ourselves in, there is great comfort and assurance in this reality.

    PSALM 23     The LORD Is My Shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

 

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

Handling Rewards for Service

But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation.    Daniel 5:16-17  ESV

Daniel was summoned into the presence of King Belshazzar and asked to give an interpretation of the writing on the wall in the king’s banquet hall.  A hand had suddenly appeared and written an inscription which no one could understand.  Daniel had interpreted the dreams of King Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar’s father, and thus there was hope and expectation that he could help solve the puzzle.

Note that King Belshazzar offered to reward Daniel with status (purple robe – royal colors), wealth (gold chain) and position / power (become the third ruler in the kingdom of Babylon).  The great offer of reward for his service was no doubt enticing for Daniel who had been serving in the kingdom’s administration for many years by this time.  But Daniel politely refused the offer of reward for his service, telling the king to keep his robe and gold chain and give the position to another.

Daniel boldly and courageously interprets the meaning of the inscription, telling the king that he was arrogant and self-serving like his father.  “And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven…”  (Daniel 5:22-23 ESV)  He then gave the king the bad news – God was bringing judgment upon him and would take away his kingdom and divide it among others. This happened later that night as King Belshazzar was killed.  (Daniel 5:30)

Having given the king the meaning, Daniel was rewarded just as the king promised.  In receiving these rewards from the hand of the king was Daniel being duplicitous or compromising his values?  Or was he being prudent and wise in his relationship with the king?  I would suggest the latter.

It would have been foolish for Daniel to twice embarrass the king in front of this banquet guests by refusing his rewards.  He had already delivered the sad news of the king’s pending demise in front of the royal court at the banquet.  Now he humbly accepted the king’s reward having already made the point that the rewards were not his motive for service.  Note that within a day the kingship passed to another, Darius the Mede, and Daniel would once again be asked to serve a different leader and in a different position.

Rewards often come for Kingdom leaders and their service.  But do not make them your motive.  Be willing to humbly accept them for a job well-done, but don’t seek them out as a motive for serving in your God-given strengths.

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

The Desire for Recognition

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.
                   Theme Song from TV Show – Cheers

Jonathan had an idea.  “Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.”  (1 Samuel 14:6-7)  And the Lord honored their faith and zeal and delivered all of Israel a great victory that day.

Today, when we recount this story and tell of God’s greatness, we remember Jonathan, son of Saul, as the one who God used.  But we do not know the name of his armor bearer.  That man joined right along with Jonathan, risking his own life, stepping out in faith, and fighting right alongside Jonathan.  Jonathan got the recognition, his armor bearer did not.

When God punished the sin of the world by bringing a flood upon the face of the earth, He spoke to Noah about saving his family and the animals.  Over one-hundred years later God shut up Noah and his family into the ark – Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives.  Today, we recall the story of Noah and the ark, but we do not know the name of Mrs. Noah.  She too entered the ark along with her three daughters-in-law and the world was repopulated by them, but we do not know their names.

In 1 Kings 13 we have two men used of God to further his purposes during the reign of King Jeroboam – ‘the man of God from Judah’ and the ‘old prophet.’  Both were used of God during their days to speak the truth to the king, but we do not know their names.  They died and were buried together, unknown to many except God Himself.

How important is it that you are recognized – that everybody knows your name?  Many will serve God in obscurity, never being recognized for their faithful service, not seen as important or having the spotlight upon them.  But God does not forget.  He rewards those who serve Him.  There will be a time when all are recognized for their contribution and labor.  God knows your name!!!

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord , the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”  Isaiah 45:3 NIV 84

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

Recording Your Personal Journey

These are the stages of the people of Israel, when they went out of the land of Egypt by their companies under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Moses wrote down their starting places, stage by stage, by command of the LORD, and these are their stages according to their starting places.     Numbers 33:1-2  ESV

Note that the Lord wanted the forty-year journey from Egypt to the edge of the Promised Land recorded.  It was ‘by the command of the Lord’ that Moses wrote the many stages of Israel’s Exodus and their wanderings in the desert, finally arriving at the east side of the Jordan River. God thought it important to write down the history they were making.

Moses recorded the locations of their journey as well as the significant events.  He wrote about passing through the Red Sea, camping at a beautiful oasis of multiple springs and palm trees, their lack of water at another location, the death of his brother, Aaron and the reactions of neighboring kings.  All these details were saved as a reflection on their history and were life messages to be passed on to future generations.

Each of us is also on a journey that the Lord is directing.  Too often we fail to appreciate what He has done or is doing in and through us.  We are building life messages as we go that God intends for us to share with others.  But too often we fail to record the details and over time they are forgotten.

Are you recording the details of your journey for your own self-reflection, your family and those you serve ?  The journey the Lord has you on and His ministry to you is intended to platform you to minister to others.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.   2 Corinthians 1:3-4  ESV

Pay attention to the paths you walk.  Record your journey and the lessons learned.  Expect God to give you opportunity to share what He has taught you with others who are on similar journeys.  Steward your life messages!!!

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

Developing Depth in the Word

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15  ESV

A key to depth in the Word of God from which to lead and serve others is our perspective.  Some who are immature and impatient want to develop depth in the Scriptures quickly.  But the wise have a long-term view, knowing that this depth will be created over a lifetime of reading, studying and meditating on the Scriptures.

This desired depth will come through a disciplined life as modeled by Ezra – For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.  Ezra 7:10  ESV

At one time I had a lifetime goal to trying to develop depth in the entire Bible – all sixty-six books!  But a conversation with Dr. Bobby Clinton helped change that goal to what he calls a Core Set.  Rather than shallowly addressing the entire book, better to concentrate in a few sections over a lifetime, while maintaining familiarity with the whole.

Because we minister to others from our personal depth in the Scriptures, the more influence a Kingdom leader has, the more books they should have in their Core Set. In addition to books of the Bible, one may have key passages (i.e. The Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13), Bible characters, or life-message related topics (i.e. disciplemaking, world missions, leadership) as a part of your Core Set.

Dr. Clinton would suggest that everyone should have a minimum of four books in their Core Set – one of the four gospels, Romans, Ephesians, and a book of your choice.  The gospels represent the life and ministry of Jesus our Lord.  Romans describes in detail the revelation Paul received regarding the gospel of salvation by grace.  Ephesians describes his other revelation regarding the Body of Christ – Jews and Gentiles made one in Christ.  The other book will be one where you go often for encouragement, comfort and inspiration.  It’s that section of your Bible with the most marks or where you have to tape the pages back into the binding.

In our Core Set we read, study, memorize and meditate over a lifetime.  We have our devotions in these books, preach and teach from them, write about them and minister to others from an overflow of depth in them.  We maintain connection with the whole of the Word by reading broadly and hearing it taught, but our concentration is in our Core Set.

Seek to be laser-like rather than a light bulb.  Have a long-term view regarding your depth in the Word that you may minister from an overflow.

Focus for impact!  Don’t sacrifice depth for area!

 

Kingdom Leaders and the Word

Study it through, Pray it in, Live it out, Pass it on.       Leighton Ford

Jesus reminds us that it is the seed of the Word of God the Kingdom worker plants that springs forth in the life soil of an individual (Mark 4:14).  Peter reminds us that we have been born again by the seed of the Word of God –  “… since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…” 1 Peter 1:23 ESV

A mark of a Kingdom leader is that they saturate their life and leadership with the Scriptures.  Not in a proof text, Post-it note kind of way – “Ooops, I’d better add a verse to this so that it sounds more spiritual.”  Rather, they have so embedded themselves in the Word of God that it naturally flows from them as they live and lead others to accomplish mission for the glory of God.

Note in the above quote that the first three steps regarding saturating our life and leadership with the Bible are internally focused.  We study the Word, not in a purely academic sense, but rather, with an eye towards applying it to ourselves and then to others.

Next we pray over the Scriptures with a meditative, contemplative attitude, expecting God to speak to us personally.  He will speak to our current situations and challenges, directing our paths and helping us sort out His voices from the cacophony that that surrounds us.  In Isaiah 30:21 (ESV) He promises, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

Next in the ministry of the Word is that we have to apply it to ourselves before we share it with others.  It was Howard Hendricks who said, “If it does not work at ‘home,’ don’t export it!”  Hypocrisy is by definition not living what you instruct others to be or do and Jesus had much to say about hypocrites – none of it positive!

Lastly, having studied, prayed and personally applied the Word, we now share it with others.  We align our leadership with God’s ways and seek to bring glory to Him, knowing that we will give an account for our actions at the end of our days. Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” And James gives Kingdom leaders this sobering reminder, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1 ESV)

Thus, we do humbly serve the King and seek to advance His Kingdom by honoring His Word in our life and leadership.  Are you seeking to saturate your life with the Word?  Are you pursuing knowing Him and abiding in Him by meeting Him daily in the Scriptures?

Over-Communicate!!!

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”  So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.      Exodus 24:12-13  ESV

The Lord had something extremely important to communicate to His people.  So, He called Moses and his aide, Joshua, up on a mountain top for 40 days of extended time together.  What was communicated from God to Moses during those days was recorded by him in the following chapters of Exodus, chapters 25-31.  Let’s examine how God communicated to and through leadership.

There were three general means of communication that the Lord used to get the message of the Law, the Tabernacle, and Levitical leadership across to Moses (and Joshua), seeking to ensure clarity of message.

The first means of communication was verbal.  “The LORD said to Moses…” (Exodus 25:1).  To deliver a message, speaking the message to another (sometimes repeating the message) is an initial step.  The fact that Moses records the words spoken to him by God implies that he (or perhaps his aide- Joshua) were taking detailed notes of what was being spoken to them.

Secondly, we note that God used visual reinforcement of what He communicated verbally.  “Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.” (Exodus 25:9 ESV)  Again the Lord says, “And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40 ESV)

The third way the Lord used to deepen the impact and clarify the message was by written words.  Note what Moses took down the mountain when he left after 40 days.  “And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18 ESV)  Here was the ‘executive summary’ of the Law – the 10 Commandments –  written on stone tablets by God Himself.

Verbal, visual, and written means of communication were all used by God to ‘over-communicate’ this very important message.  As Kingdom leaders, don’t assume telling is communicating.  Don’t assume because you put it in writing that those you lead are reading it.  And yes, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words!

May it not be said of your leadership, “What we have here is a failure to communicate!”

Casting Vision by Modeling

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.  1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)

I was recently asked, “Tom, what is a good way to develop a platform for influencing others?” I replied that a powerful means for influence is your own example and recounted this story of unknown origin that illustrates the power of modeling.

A young man sat on a bench in his train compartment opposite an older gentleman who was engaged in reading his bible.  The young man thought he recognized the older man as one of his personal heroes – a preacher who had great impact and a worldwide ministry.  Seizing the opportunity to talk with his hero, he worked up his courage, cleared his throat and asked him a question.

“Excuse me, sir, but aren’t you Mr. …?” he timidly asked.  Putting aside his bible, the older man responded affirmatively.  “Sir,” the young man continued, “I have admired your ministry for a long time and so desire to have the type of influence you have for Jesus.  Is there any advice the you would have for me to gain that influence which you now have?”

The old saint thought for a moment and then said, “Young man, I find that if you set yourself on fire, others will come and watch you burn!”

Never underestimate the power of your own example.  Point others to Christ and His Kingdom by the way you live as well as your words.  Live your personal calling in such a way as others take notice that you are one whose life backs up what you so proclaim.

Aside from the Bible, the biographies of great men and women of God have more shaped me as a Kingdom leader than any other books.  These ‘historical mentors’ have modeled a way, having blazed a trail that I seek to follow.

Yes, “Leaders are readers!” – but be careful what you read.  Saturate your life with the Scriptures and regularly read biographies of those who were used of God to change the world.  Then, others will come and follow the trail you leave behind.

Is your example worth following?

Leading with Courage – 4

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.         Proverbs 28:1

The times demand courageous Kingdom leaders who fear nothing other than failing to please the Lord God Almighty.  Below are several more considerations as you face challenges that call for bold, courageous leadership decisions.

1. Be very courageous when God goes with you into a situation (He always does), asks you to do something, and promises to care for you (Genesis 22:1-12, 46:3, Exodus 14:13, Numbers 14:6-9, 21:34, Joshua 1:1-9, 8:1, 10:25, Acts 4:1-31, 5:27-32, 23:11, 27:21-25).

This type of courage seems to be related to trusting in God’s guidance and provision (Isaiah 28:16).  It results from spending time with the Lord (Acts 4:13) and often requires obedience on our part (1 Chronicles 22:13).

2. People want to follow a courageous leader (Joshua 1:18, Ezra 10:1-5).

3. People lose courage when they know God is working against them (Joshua 2:9-11, 5:1, 1 Samuel 4:5-7, 18:12-15, 28-29, Nehemiah 6:15-16).  Then those who God is working with can gain courage (Judges 7:10-11).

4. It is very important to stimulate one another in courage (Ezra 10:1-5, Colossians 3:21).  Notice the encouragement patterns between God, Moses, Joshua and Israel (Numbers 13-14, Deuteronomy 31:6, 23, Joshua 1:6-9, 18, 10:25).

5. Courage involves being willing to rebuke people, especially those in high places
(2 Samuel 12:1-14, 2 Chronicles 26:16-18, Matthew 3:7-12, 14:3-4, Luke 3:7-20).

6. Courage also involves taking a stand for integrity and doing what is right, not easy or convenient (Deuteronomy 1:17, John 9:22).

7. Courage involves putting one’s relationship with God above all else (Daniel 3:16-18, John 11:16).

8. Lack of courage can lead to sin (Genesis 18:15, 26:7, 1 Samuel 15:24).

9. We can gain courage by looking at what God has done for us in the past (Deuteronomy  7:18).

10. Making a commitment to someone or something can give a person courage to persevere and complete the task (Ruth 1:16-18, 2:2, 3:5).

11. Courage is needed to take risks on behalf of others (Exodus 2:1-4, Joshua 2:1-6, Esther 4:12-16, 7:3-4, 8:3-6).

It’s time to take a ‘courage inventory’ regarding the leadership situations you find yourself facing today.  What courageous act is God asking of you?  Trust Him – He will never leave you!

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