Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Prayer”

Living Peaceful and Quiet Lives

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.       1 Thes. 4:11-12   NIV 1984

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.         1 Tim. 2:1-4  NIV 1984

Paul urges us to aim to live peaceful, quiet lives that shine as beacons of godliness and holiness to an unbelieving world around us.  For this to happen, we must be prayerfully interceding for kings (political leaders) and those in authority that the Lord might grant us favor in their eyes.  For, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases (Proverbs 21:1).

It is interesting to note that in Thessalonica and Ephesus Paul had caused riots and civil upheaval.  It was for the sake of the gospel that he was in these cities and we also note that in both cases it was not Paul who instigated the disturbances.  It was the enemies of the gospel who stirred up the crowds, drawing the responses from the civil leaders.  See Acts 17:1-9 and Acts 19:23ff.

Paul did not want this type of upheaval to be perceived as ‘normal’ for those following Christ in the respective cities.  Rather, the goal, as he reminded them, was to live peaceful and quiet lives; living such counter-cultural lives that they would win the respect of those who did not yet know Christ.

Our turbulent times call for us to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).   And in the midst of this turmoil, we are to be praying for our political and civil authorities – asking that the Lord would cause them to show us kindness and favor.  The result will be the advancement of the Kingdom and the gospel in the lives of many.

Are you praying for those in authority over you?

Knowing God

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Ephesians 1:17  (NIV 1984)

In his letter to the Ephesian believers, Paul mentions two things that he is praying for them.  He prays that the Lord will give them, “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.”  These two attributes are truly important for all believers, but they are also essential for Kingdom leaders who would hope to faithfully serve Him.

The ‘Spirit of wisdom’ is foundational for all good leadership.  The world recognizes the need for leaders to have wisdom, but their answer for wisdom is by gaining experience.  This can be personal experience gained over time or by studying the experiences of others.  While this can be of some benefit, it does not necessarily translate into the paradigm of Kingdom leadership.

That is why Paul prays for the “Spirit of wisdom” to be given to us.  Godly, Kingdom wisdom comes from above and is given to us by the Holy Spirit who indwells all followers of Jesus.  This wisdom from above may be counter-cultural and counter-intuitive from the world’s perspective.  But it will be perfectly aligned with God’s purposes for us and those we lead as we seek to follow Him.  This Kingdom wisdom teaches us the ways of God as opposed to the ways of men (see Exodus 33:12-13ff) and enables us to lead in such a way that is pleasing to Him.

The ‘Spirit of,,,revelation’ is also key for Kingdom leaders.  It means the bringing to light something previously hidden or unknown.  A Kingdom leader’s need to find root issues, causes, and see both the future intended and unintended consequences of their decisions is essential.  These things often cannot just be thought out.  We need insight from the Spirit within us to reveal that which is hidden, either through ignorance, lack of information, or just not being able to foresee far enough into the future.

The result of gaining both wisdom and revelation from God is  “… that you may know him better.”  It is this “knowing Him” that will bring blessing to our leadership and ensure that our outcomes are aligned with His overall purposes.

Are you asking for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to come upon you and those you lead?

Living a Life of Faith #1

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).  “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).  Faith involves the unknown and the unseen.  Living by faith is the normal lifestyle of the believer.  Life begins by believing a promise of eternal life and forgiveness of sin (1 John 2:25) and continues until we see Jesus face to face.  When dealing with the unknown, we naturally are fearful and anxious.  Faith is not the absence of fear and anxiety, but the ability to control these powerful emotions rather than to be controlled by them.

The Apostle Paul faced many stressful and anxious moments during his life.  He writes,  “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt 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.  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” (2 Cor. 1:8-11).

Note several important points in this passage.  First of all, God allowed Paul to enter into a time of extreme pressure.  The stress he experienced was far beyond his human ability to endure.  In fact, he had given up hope of living through it!  Secondly, Paul tells us why God allowed this experience.  He says that God wanted to teach him to rely only on Him who raises the dead.  If God can raise the dead all other matters are no problem!  God is seeking to raise up dependent children–children who only depend upon Him.  Paul testifies that God has delivered him from the past peril, He will deliver him from whatever perils he is currently facing, and that He will continue to deliver him in the future from whatever may befall him.  Paul was to recruit prayer for his current trials that when God answered many would give thanks for God’s work.

Bold Prayer Requests

Jesus encourages us to make bold requests. He says, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11). In other words, because God loves us and wants what is best for us, He will not give us something that would be harmful or detrimental for us. He loves us too much for that.

Suppose one of my three children came to me and said, “Dad, I’d like you to give me a stick of dynamite for my birthday.” How would I respond? Obviously, I would not give it to them because of the danger. Having been refused, they continue to plead saying, “But I really, really want the dynamite, Dad! Please get me some!” Though they would ask me a thousand times (even with fasting) I would not give them what they wanted.

Why not? Well, not because I’m not capable or because I don’t want to meet their requests. The reason I don’t give them what they ask for is because I love them too much to give them something that could be harmful for them. Jesus says, if we who are evil and fallen in our natures can show that kind of reasoning and love, how much more will the love of our heavenly Father prevent Him from answering a request with something that will bring us harm.

James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” If we are seeking something with wrong motives, James says that we won’t get it. That is all; God will say, “Sorry, but the answer to that request is ‘no.’” He does not add, “And I will teach you never to ask for something like that again, you terrible person!” We simply won’t get what we request.

So pray and ask boldly!  But, always with the attitude that I submit my desires and will to His desires and will for me for I trust Him to always do what’s best for me.

Reaching the Nations

Dawson Trotman said, “World vision is getting on your heart what has always been on God’s heart.”

Christ’s Great Commission commands us to make disciples of all the nations. By ‘nations’ we do not mean geo-political units on a map, but rather peoples. We see the world as the Lord does – peoples with common cultures, languages, and affinities. It is within these peoples that the gospel moves and spreads.

There are 78 unreached people groups within our own U.S. borders, requiring no visa to reach them and few government restrictions (see Joshua Project statistics for current U.S. and world opportunities).

Immigrants and refugees are pouring into our country at unheard of rates. And we know from history that when people are in transitions they are more open to the gospel.

International students are also coming to study on our campuses at unprecedented rates. They too are in times of change and thus are very receptive to new ideas and relationships. And when they return to their home of origin they become leaders and influencers for a lifetime. These too require no plane ride or language school experience to engage. But they do require a huge heart, sustained commitment, and great perseverance to see the gospel take root and bear fruit!

The world today still is 40% unreached (see Joshua Project data). There remains 6,600 unreached people groups totaling nearly 3 billion people. These peoples will be reached if someone leaves their home and intentionally crosses cultures to plant the gospel among them. The remaining groups are historically the most resistant to the gospel – those with Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist background. It will require long-term effort and much sacrifice for the gospel to go to these ‘nations.’

Our Lord said, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-20). Paul reminds us, “And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14). Are you praying for the nations to come to know Him?  Are you listening to how He would have of you to become the answer to your own prayer?

Solitude in the Ministry

Here’s another great reminder for busy leaders from my “archive.”

Taking it From the Top
Moody Monthly – May 1991     Dr. Wayne Hopkins

Each of us regularly needs solitude, especially those in the ministry. At least one day a week you and I, individually, must get away. Normally, Sunday is not that day! For those in the ministry, it is a battle day.

In light of what a typical servant of God routinely faces and in order to remain calm in heart and gentle in spirit, a full day with God alone every week seems to be a minimum. Streams of living water do not pour forth from barren and burned places.

Life presses on us, leaving us alarmed in heart and hard in spirit. ”The length of our days is 70 years–or 80, if we have the strength–yet their span is but trouble and sorrow; for they pass quickly, and we fly away” (Ps 90:10).

American culture structures against one literally taking a day in seven for rest and reflection. The corporate world believes, as do some hard-working Christians, that any form of “shut-down-time” is sloth and dawdle. But alcoholism, deception, divorce, superficiality, and ulcers rank high among these same folks.

Solitude, found in isolation, has several components. One, the day must be one of studying the Scriptures (Deut 17:18-20; Ezra 7:10). A soul weary with sorrow is strengthened with God’s Word (Ps 119:28). A brief quiet time, even observed every day, has never been enough.

Two, the day of solitude is constructed with stillness (Ps 37:17; 46:10). Such a day probably impossible to attain by a neurotic American, or by a guilt-driven believer, is characterized by a moratorium on activity (Ps 4:4): no chores, errands, phone calls, or TV (Isa 30:15).

Three, quietness is required (Lev 10:3). Sitting still for some does not eliminate noise. But the radio, music, Walkman, even mental racket must go. For in the long hush, not in the loud hurry, we learn about God (Ecc 5:1-7; Jer 17:19-29). Only privacy provides the silence needed for God to re-order my life, bashed and sapped from six days of mauling (Prov 17:1; Lam 3:25-33).

Four, waiting for God with patience is mandatory (Ps 5:3; 130:5-6). The rude, robust, and righteous person chafes at lingering in God’s presence for any period longer than a 30-second church prayer (Hos 8:4; 10:12-13). For a society that measures Olympic races in hundredths of a second, a full day can be an eternity. However, the barbarian heart which undercuts God’s kingdom naturally jeers at any apparent dilly-dallying or wasting of time by reposing before God (Ps 131:2; Isa 8:17).

Not uncharacteristically, Moses waited, not only 40 days on two occasions, but six days on another (Ex 24:15-18); Ezekiel tarried seven (Ezek 3:15-16); and Jesus fasted 40 (Mt 4:2). Frequently, God’s servants–e.g. Job, Abraham, Jeremiah, Elijah, Daniel, John the Baptist, and Paul–logged days in seclusion. The willingness to wait, both before Him and for Him, displays courtesy, faith, and dependency (Isa 30:18, 33:2; 40:31). Personal and work-related mission, passion, and creativity surface and flame in those hours.

Five, meditation is an absolute (Ps 1:2; 119:27). Pondering deeply the nature and the ways of God takes not only time and serenity but controlled thinking. Totally unknown to anxious Americans addicted to action, speed, work, and noise, meditation is the only vista whereby I can meet with Him (Ps 119:15,23,27,48,55,62,78,97,148; Isa 57:11). While we praise God loudly in music and testimony, we learn about Him in silence-free from distractions-as we mentally and calmly dwell on Him (Ps 86:1-17; Prov 22:17-21; Lk 10:38-42).

Six, fasting follows next (Ps 35:13). The discipline of fasting, not originally initiated for hefty American pastors or missionaries, decreases the clutter and static for the day’s devotion and, in turn, enhances solitude (Ps 69:10; 109:24). Never intended to be routine or ritualistic (Isa 58:1-14; Mt 6:16-18) or even a total abstinence, fasting portrays an inward awe for God which is particularly appropriate at critical decision times (Ezra 8:21-23;Acts 13.1-3). To consult truly with God over heavy matters in life, one’s inner contriteness and brokenness are matched by an outer withdrawal from daily routines. Jesus directed that fasting would be fitting after His departure and during His absence (Mt 9:14-15).

Seven, a prayer response to what God shows one in secret is expected (Job 42:5-6; Isa 6:5). Confession qualifies me for further illumination regarding God’s truth, whether about Him or me (Josh 9:14; 1 Ch 10:14; 15:13; 2 Ch 16:12). Some devotees ask to be taught how to pray. But as God teaches solitude and these disciplines of the soul which compose it, prayer is a natural reaction to what He discloses. Prayer without revelation is vain religion.

As serious Christians today with a penchant for action, we are impressed with David’s valor in defeating Goliath. We puzzle over how he did it, perhaps failing to notice that as a shepherd he received his boldness for the battle not from the frenzy of the freeway but from the solitude of a sheep meadow (1 Sam 17:34-37). God loves shepherds. They are known for their solitude.

Busyness is normative for leaders.  If you don’t want a busy life, then don’t lead!  But the busyness of leadership is no excuse for spending time with the King in quiet reflection, meditation, and prayer.  When’s your next time of solitude with the King?

Instant is Too Slow

Genesis 6:5 – 7:6

We have ten minute oil changes, four minute microwave popcorn, three minute ATM transactions, and one minute news breaks.  Fast food has to be ready when we place our order or we begin to get impatient.  Any line longer than two people is intolerable.  Customer service representatives often hear the complaint, “I want it yesterday!”  Instant is too slow!

What a contrast God’s timetable is to ours.  From the time Noah was given the promise about the flood until the rain began to fall he had to wait a long time (perhaps as much as one-hundred and twenty years–compare Genesis 5:32, 6:3 and 7:6).  From the time the rain started until his family left the ark Noah waited another year inside the closed ark (compare Genesis 7:11 and 8:14).  Abraham waited 25 years for his promised son to be born.  The Israelites waited seven days for the walls of Jericho to fall.  We all have been waiting 2000+ years for the second coming of Christ.

Our problem is patience—or the lack thereof.  We don’t want to wait for anything.  We pray and if the answer isn’t on our doorstep within a day or two we give up.   But God works on a different timetable. “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

As Noah waited those many years for the first raindrop to fall, no doubt he was subject to times of doubt.  But he remained obedient to all God had told him (Genesis 7:5).  For God had promised and he took him at his word.  It was not a matter of if, but when.

What answers to prayer are you currently waiting for?  Does God seem to take intolerably long to answer?  Wait on God.  Don’t give up.  God will answer in his perfect timing.  “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10:36).

A Deeper Look

Psalm 37:7; Luke 18:1; Romans 8:25

5 Ridiculous Prayer Requests

I once did a study on what I titled the ‘ridiculous prayers’ of the bible.  These were prayer requests that from a human viewpoint may seem outlandish or over the top, but God saw fit to say ‘yes’ to.

This study included Moses asking to see God’s face, Solomon asking for wisdom, and Jabez asking for God’s blessing among others.  After I’d finished the study I was humbled when I thought of my own prayer life and my meager requests before the Lord.  I was also challenged to consider what could I possibly ask that may seem foolish or ridiculous, but that was not out of the realm of possibility from God’s perspective.

The result was the following list of five prayer items that I have been asking of the Lord for many years now.  You will see after each of these some references for others who either requested the same or perhaps are promises that I’m praying over related to this request.

1.       Power of the Holy Spirit when Preaching and Teaching

  1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Peter 4:11

2.       God’s Blessing on My Life and Ministry

  1 Chronicles 4:10; Isaiah 45:2-3

3.       Teach me Your Ways Lord – Knowing Why God Does What He Does

          Exodus 33:13

4.       See God’s Glory

  Exodus 33:18

5.       Wisdom for Life and Leadership

 1 Kings 3:9

What ‘ridiculous things’ are you asking Him for?

Leaders and Prayer

Someone has said, “Prayer is one of the most talked about and least practiced disciplines of the Christian life.”  As Kingdom leaders we must be praying about the mission and the people on a very regular basis.  I find for my own leadership that it is easy to be busy with the work of the responsibility and neglect this foundation.  If we are not careful to prayerfully lay this foundation for our leadership we can find ourselves building upon the sand instead of the Rock.

O. Hallesby in his wonderful classic simply titled Prayer says this (p. 81),

“One of the things that the Spirit must teach us about prayer as work is this:  to learn to take time to pray.

All work takes time.  When it becomes clear to us that prayer is part of our daily program of work, it will also become clear to us that we must arrange our daily program in such a way that there is time also for this work, just as we set aside time for other necessary things, such as eating and dressing.”

Time is one of a leader’s most precious commodities.  It is in short supply and demands often far exceed the time available.  Prayer can seem to be an addendum to the day’s work, if time is found for it, rather than the primary work to be done today.  Even in writing this I am saddened by the thought of my own inconsistency in this area.  May I/we all be more faithful to do this essential work each day.

Charles Spurgeon adds this in his work, The Secret Power of Prayer,

“The best praying man is the man who is most believingly familiar with the promises of God.  After all, prayer is nothing but taking God’s promises to Him and saying, ‘Do as You have said.’  Prayer is the promise utilized.  Prayer not based on a promise has no true foundation.”  (p. 41)

The work of prayer for our leadership should flow from the Scriptural promises God has given us.  These promises can be prayed back to Him in faith as we trust Him for on-going influence.  These promises prayed over give a sense of destiny and hope for the future outcomes of our life’s work.  As we pray and meditate over them the Lord will speak, confirm, and direct us.

Prayer – may we be doers and not just hearers only!

4 Core Qualities for Leadership Success

When our children were born, actually even before they were born, we began to pray for them daily (sometimes it was multiple times a day, especially if they were not having a good day).  We prayed many things for them, but the main thing was that they would come to know Christ at an early age, never experiencing a time of rebellion or walking away from Him, and that they would serve Him with their whole heart in whatever calling He would have for them.  As we got to know them and their personality / temperament, we were also able to add specific prayer requests related to their character needs.

The lists grew longer as time passed and I began to re-think what I was praying for each of the kids.  What was it that was really important for me to pray into their life?  What were the essentials that would see them through life’s trials and challenges?  After much thought and reflection, I boiled it down to just four things that were needed.  Yes, there were (are) still other things that I prayed (and still pray) for each of them, but these four things are the foundation stones that I (we) have prayed into their lives for many years.  Now, these four qualities have also become core qualities for myself as a leader and for other emerging leaders that I coach.   I remember them with the acronym, “PEWC” (rhymes with ‘hurl’).  🙂

“P” stands for Purity of Life.  Many have made shipwrecks of their lives by failing in this area.  Certainly the challenges of moral purity are greater today than when I was younger.  For young men in particular, with the pervasiveness of pornography on the Internet and other media, sexual purity is a growing challenge.  But, purity of life is more than just sexual holiness.

Purity relates to our heart and what grips it.  It means we are wholly devoted to one Master.  It relates to integrity, being a person of our word who can be counted on to do what we say.  It means we are transparent in our life, not playing games with our relationships or wearing masks that hide who we truly are.  What you see is what you get.

“E” stands for Eternal Values.  There is much pressure, especially in the American culture, to become a massive consumer and accumulate all we can.  The mantra seems to be, “He who dies with the most toys wins.”  While I’m not one who would feel guilty for being born and now living in a prosperous culture, I do have a sense of stewardship of whatever resources God places under my care.  We already have much compared to others.  And, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Having eternal values ultimately means that we are living for a world to come, not this present one.  These values direct our daily choices, lifestyles, spending, consuming, giving, investing, etc.  Our lives are lived in the context of eternity, knowing that we will have to give an account one day of what we did with the resources God entrusted to us.  Our lives are lived out knowing that 70 years will come and go quickly, and we are but a vapor that soon disappears.  And when we exit this planet, we will leave all we have accumulated to others, taking nothing with us.

“W” stands for Wisdom Here is the secret to much of the challenge of parenting and leading.  God entrusts children and people to us without an instruction manual on how to raise or lead them.  Yes, we have the Bible with great principles (Proverbs is especially helpful) and we have our own upbringing (which can have it’s strengths and weaknesses).  What our children and those we lead need is “instant” wisdom that enables them to make wise choices that honor God.

When our children were young and disobedient we would correct them.  One of the statements that we would say again and again was, “That was not a wise thing to do.”  Or when we would talk about a decision or someone’s  decision and the consequences, we would point out wise choices and not so wise ones, labeling it as such.  The point was to reinforce in many ways that a goal in life was to become wise.  To obey God and your parents was a wise thing for them as a child and brought reward.  But, to disobey God and your parents was an unwise (foolish) thing and it brought punishment and pain.  Ouch!

“C” stands for Courage.  If our children and we as leaders are to apply the above three things, Purity, Eternal Values, and Wisdom, then that would mean that we would not be following the norms of the day.  We would be swimming against that cultural tide and standing out as different from the crowd.  There would be much pressure brought to bear on us to conform to the norms of the day, especially by our friends and peers.  Knowing this pressure, it will take great courage to stand for what is pure, eternal, and wise in God’s eyes, and not simply go along with the crowd and do what’s easy, instead of what’s right.

Courage, moral backbone, to say and do what’s right is never easy.  Sometimes there are real consequences for standing up for right.  Some have even had to pay with their lives for this kind of stand.  I pray that we would never have to make that kind of choice, but should it come, may we have the courage to stand, knowing that eternity waits.

These four areas have formed that foundation of what I (we) have prayed for our children since they were very young.  I have also made them a foundation of qualities that I have prayed for myself as a leader.  I’m pleased to say that we have seen these areas demonstrated in our children’s lives over and over again.  God has been and continues to be faithful to build these things into my life as well as theirs.  And now there is the next generation—our grandchildren.  They too are now coming under this prayer covering of PEWC.

But for myself and those emerging leaders who I coach and mentor these core qualities are also the foundation of my prayers.  I pray that we will grow and mature as leaders who demonstrate these qualities in our personal lives, families, and leadership.  For if we do, we will be change agents who the Lord will use to bring hope and help to many.

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