Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Personal development”

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!

From Patience to Perseverance

Initially, we thought it would last two weeks to a month.  Then it was ‘Well, certainly by the beginning of summer…’  Next it was ‘For sure, by the start of the fall…’  Now we are looking to Christmas or early spring for relief from the Covid pandemic.  Does it seem like we are playing a type of game where they keep moving the goalposts?

When will it end?  We set our expectations and hope on a future date for relief and a ‘return to normal,’ only to have our hopes dashed by the reality of a virus that seems hard to ignore or conquer.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  (Proverbs 13:12  NIV)  It’s very normal to have feelings of disappointment when our expectations are not met.  But we must guard against going from disappointment to despair where we lose all hope and just give up.

Given the long trial of faith that we all are suffering, we must shift our attitudes from one of being patient to one of persevering.  Perseverance means, “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”  We acknowledge our disappointment before the Lord, plead for His mercy and determine, by His grace and strength, to persevere until He determines the end of our trial.

Our hope is not in new policies, better disinfection or therapeutics or even a vaccine.  Rather, our hope is in Him and His strength.  Here are several biblical truths that strengthen my soul during these days.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.     Hebrews 10:36  NIV 1984

… even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.    Isaiah 46:4  ESV

For nothing will be impossible with God.    Luke 1:37  NIV 1984

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.    1 Corinthians 10:13  ESV

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.    2 Corinthians 1:8-10  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

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.    Romans 5:3-5  ESV

“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

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.    James 1:2-4  ESV

But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.    Isaiah 50:7  ESV

Don’t despair!!!  Persevere!!!

Leaders and Interpersonal Communication

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.   Matthew 12:33-35  ESV

Kingdom leaders are constantly communicating to those they lead and influence.  Developing the skill of interpersonal communication should be high on our ‘to do list.’  Here’s some practical ideas to that end.

  1. Remember:  We speak at a volume of 2, but are heard at a volume of 9!
  2. We are always communicating something. Even not communicating communicates something! Non-verbal communication is always happening.
  3. Think before you speak! Act; don’t react! You can’t take back something once it has been said… the effect will inevitably remain. A Russian proverb says, “Once a word goes out of your mouth, you can never swallow it again.”  Watch those text messages!!!!!
  4. No form of communication is simple. Even simple communication is complicated by many variables. Words do not have inherent meaning; we simply use them in certain ways… no two people use the same word exactly alike. Don’t assume that just because you told them they now understand!
  5. Communication does not happen in isolation. There are many contextual factors: psychological, relational, situational, environmental and cultural… all influence communications significantly.  Adjust your communication style to fit your audience!

 Tips for Understanding Non-verbal Communication

  1. Recognize that people communicate on many levels… facial expressions, eye contact, body posture, voice level, hand and feet movements, use of space/distance, body movements and placement, culture and appearance as they walk toward you.
  2. If a person’s words say one thing and their non-verbal message says another, you will tend to listen more to the non-verbal message … that is the correct decision.
  3. Non-verbal communication can provide up to 85% of the meaning of any conversation. Pay particular attention when doing interviews.
  4. Probe non-verbal communication during a conversation in which you need facts and believable statements. Again, the non-verbal may reveal more than the person’s spoken words.
  5. When leading a meeting or speaking to a group, recognize that non-verbal cues can tell you:        when you have talked long enough; when someone else wants to speak; and the mood of the group and their reaction to your remarks.

Becoming a skilled interpersonal communicator is a developmental goal for Kingdom leaders.  Start today!

Fire Casts No Shadow

 

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.   Hebrews 12:28-29  ESV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17  ESV

It’s amazing that a pure flame will not cast a shadow unless it is contaminated with soot or smoke.  Because the living God is pure and holy, there is no shadow of change within Him.  His purity is immutable and this reality brings great security and hope for all Kingdom people. The holiness of God and His unchanging character cause us to fall at His feet and worship Him with reverence and awe!

Kingdom leaders are His ambassadors who also reflect the light of God that shines into the darkness John 1:4-5 (ESV) says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  As His agents we too must strive to reflect the purity of God in our thoughts and deeds.

Paul describes his pursuit of this goal in Acts 24:16 (NIV) – “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” He was concerned about his conscience before God first, but also with regards to what others may think or even accuse him of.  Again when discussing his handling of a monetary gift for the poor, he says, “We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21 NIV)  Note the two-fold aspect of his actions – doing what is right before God first, but also seeking to be above reproach before others.

In 1 Timothy 3:2 (ESV) we read that one of the qualifications for the selection of Kingdom leaders: “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach…” That is, they are not to have anything in their lives that can cast as shadow or disparage the King or the Kingdom. They are to be pure and holy for they represent a Holy God.

May we too pursue this same goal in our lives and leadership – seeking to be above reproach; seeking to please both God and people, for He is worthy!

 

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.

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