Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Promises of God”

Developing Kingdom Leaders for What?

In Genesis 12:1-3 we read of God’s promise to Abram that the blessing upon Abram and his descendants would be a blessing to all the world.  1500 years later, Isaiah writes a prophecy about the coming Messiah and states that the mission of the Messiah would be to take the message of salvation not just to the tribes of Jacob, but to all the nations (peoples) of the world.

500 years after Isaiah, Jesus summarizes His entire public ministry with a commission to make disciples of all the nations (see Matthew 28:18-20).  And at His final public appearance, the Ascension from the Mount of Olives, the Lord instructs them to begin at Jerusalem and reach to ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

This mission of discipling the nations is why we need Kingdom leaders.  These missional leaders will seek to advance the gospel and the Kingdom into the various peoples of the world.  These leaders will be called of God to engage in this great cosmic task.  They will hear His voice and raise their hand.

The grand vision of making disciples of all the peoples of the world will need leaders of disciplemaking ministries and disciplemaking movements; leaders who see globally and act locally.  They will not be discouraged or shrink back from the immensity of the task.  Rather, they will rise to the challenge, trusting God by faith to use them is some way to further His purposes.

What better way to spend your life?  Some will be called to engage in this vocationally as full-time workers.  Others will have differing vocations, but their missional commitment will not waver as they engage in the grand enterprise of seeing the nations come to know Him.

These Kingdom leaders must be prayed for, worked for, recruited, trained, developed, and deployed strategically into the peoples of the world.  They will be few in number, given that the ‘laborers are few’ (see Matthew 9:35-38).  But, God does accomplish this mission with just a few (see Revelation 9:7).

We are not disheartened by the few who may raise their hand and volunteer for this daunting mission.  With God, one is a majority!  And with Him we have all the resources needed to accomplish everything He desires of us.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?    Romans 8:31  (NIV  1984)

Your Convictions are Showing

Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me.  I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land.  And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear.  I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.  So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’

“Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert.  So here I am today, eighty-five years old!  I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.  Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day.  You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance.         Joshua 14:6-13   NIV  1984

As Caleb recalls the report of the 12 spies that Moses had sent to view the land 45 years previously, he says that he acted based upon his convictions.  Convictions are much more closely held than opinions.  Convictions are something that we are willing to die for.  It has been said, as we get older, we have fewer and fewer convictions, and more and more opinions.

Here’s my observations on Caleb and his convictions:

  1. He stood against peer pressure  –  Bringing a minority report was not easy for him, but his convictions that God was with them and would help them emboldened him (and Joshua) to stand against the prevailing ‘wisdom’ of the group.
  2. He acted wholeheartedly  –   Caleb was ‘all in’ regarding his conviction that God was with him and would do as He had promised.  No holding back.
  3. He acted upon his convictions  –   Not only did Caleb bring a minority report, but, some 45 years later, he boldly goes to Joshua and requests the land promised to him by Moses.
  4. He acted consistently over a long time  –  Caleb’s convictions stood the test of time.  This was not a passing fad or trend that he had aligned himself to.
  5. He trusted God, not people  –  He still had to work for his inheritance that had been promised.  He had to defeat his enemies in the promised land.  But his confidence was in the Lord and His promises, not people, to obtain it.

What convictions do you have that are demonstrated in your actions?

Handling Our Fears

It is interesting to note the number of times that the Bible says, “Don’t be afraid.”  By my count, that phrase is repeated 77 times in the Scriptures (NIV).  We know that all emotions are God-given and morally neutral.  It is what we do with our emotions, how we express them and act upon them, that make them good or bad.   If that is true, then why does God say many times, “Don’t be afraid?”

My understanding is that the exhortation is not to deny the natural response to threat and become some type of unfeeling, machine-like personality.  Rather, a better way to understand this is to say, “Don’t be controlled by the fear that you are now feeling.”

Fear is one of our God-given emotions.  It can protect us from threats, initiating a ‘flight or fight’ response that can, in some serious situations, save our lives.  But fear can also paralyze us – like a deer caught in the headlights; we freeze, don’t act and are rolled up by the rapidly approaching threat.

Some leaders seek to manage fear by becoming more risk averse.  They reason that by not taking any (or minimal) risks, they will be safe and not have to face their fears.  But, leadership means we have to take risks, for leaders bring change.  The exact outcome of that change is unknown because it is in the future.  Fear of unknown future outcomes can paralyze leaders into simply maintaining the status quo instead of initiating risk-taking change for the better.

Another common fear of leaders is a fear of failure or looking incompetent before others.  This finds its root in our ego or in finding our identity in our leadership role.  Failure is perceived as exposing my incompetence before others and perhaps resulting in my loss of leadership responsibilities.  Mature Kingdom leaders recognize that all leadership roles are God-given and we will all transition these roles at sometime.  We don’t find our security or identity in being a leader.  Rather, we find it in being a servant who has the privilege, for a time, of leading others.

Mature leaders also know that everyone fails sometime.  It’s only a matter of when, not if, we fail.  Failure is not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s how we respond to failure that makes the difference.  Winston Churchill said, “Success in never final; failure is seldom fatal; it’s courage that counts!”  It is the courage to get up and try again that is key when one fails.  The writer of Hebrews puts it this way, “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)

Leadership is a long journey filled with highs and lows, successes and failures, safety and threats.  Learning to take appropriate risks will enable us to accomplish our God-given tasks for His glory.

How’s your risk tolerance?  Don’t be afraid!

 

Dependence or Independence?

“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”      Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

In Congress  July 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…

Tomorrow is the celebration of Independence Day in America – when America’s Founding Fathers declared the 13 colonies’ independence from Great Britain.  For Americans this day reminds us of our country’s heritage and the fact that many risked and sacrificed much for the freedom that we now enjoy.

But for those who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ there is no personal independence day.  Rather we celebrate our total, moment-by-moment  dependence upon Him.  For God does not want independent children.  He wants dependent ones.

Independence is a mark of standing upon your own two feet – saying that you are capable of governing your own life without the guidance or help of others.  This type of attitude is found in the world, but not in the Kingdom.  For citizens of the Kingdom of God know that we are Created beings who draw our very breath because our Creator wills it.  We are constantly leaning into Him who made us for strength, help, protection, guidance, and provision to live each day.

Therefore, we boast in our weakness, for then the power of Christ is evident in our lives (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).  This attitude is counter-intuitive to the world’s values.  The reality of our dependence on Him causes us to celebrate for He is faithful and will never leave us.

So, how is your attitude towards Him who made you?

Wisdom and Its Source

“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles.  He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace…. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.       Acts 7:9-10, 22     NIV  1984

Note the contrast between the wisdom of Joseph and the wisdom of Moses (up to the age of 40).

Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.  But having been shown his future destiny in two dreams as a 17-year-old young man, God’s plan for him was not frustrated.  In fact, the favor of the Lord was with Joseph, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances.  And it was God who gave Joseph wisdom (godly wisdom) that opened opportunities for him in Potiphar’s household, in prison, and finally with Pharaoh.

In contrast, Moses was educated in the best system of the day – the Egyptian education system – having grown up in Pharaoh’s household as an adopted son.  The result was that he was “powerful in speech and action” – a gifted, natural leader.  But all of his natural ability and education did not qualify him to lead God’s people by the age of 40.  The world’s wisdom was not enough in God’s eyes to qualify Moses to lead.  It would be 40 more years of preparation before the Lord would appear to him in the burning bush when he was finally ready, with God’s anointing, to lead.

Wisdom is easily understood as necessary for leadership – especially for Kingdom leaders who are constantly balancing seeking to please God and meeting the demands of the world.  But the wisdom needed for Kingdom leaders must come from God Himself.  Yes, a certain wisdom can be gained by learner’s hearts and through increased experience.  But, it is the wisdom that comes from the Lord that will bring the outcomes desired for Kingdom leaders.

This God-given wisdom can be asked for (see James 1:5) and the wonderful promise is that it will be given to all who ask.

So….are you asking?

Vision and Provision

When a leader plans for the future, they must anticipate the resources needed to accomplish any idea that is planned.  Now there are two approaches to this planning process.  One involves walking by faith the other walking by sight.

One can plan according to the resources one has – taking stock of the current inventory and then planning accordingly.  Planning based upon what we see we currently have ‘in stock’ can be wise, but it is also limiting.  We are not free to dream, take bigger faith initiatives, or think beyond what our current limited resources allow us to do.

For Kingdom leaders a better approach would be to ask the Lord, “What would you have me/us to accomplish?”  Having gotten clear direction on that goal, we then look to the Lord Himself to provide the necessary resources to accomplish the task He has assigned.

In John 6:1-13 we see Jesus asking the Twelve to feed 5000 people.  Note that this was simply a developmental question for Philip (v. 5-6) “…for he already had in mind what he was going to do.”  Andrew answers by looking to the resources that they currently have on hand – not much.  “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (v. 9)  NIV 1984

Then Jesus springs into action.  He has them sit down. Then, taking what they had, the boy’s lunch of bread and fish, He provides for the current need.  He blesses food and the Twelve distributed it to the seated masses.  Note that those who were seated got “as much as they wanted” (v. 11) and that they even had twelve baskets of leftovers.

God’s provision for whatever task He asks of us is not limited to whatever current provision we have.  Rather, we have access to unlimited resources to accomplish whatever He may ask us to do.  His provision will come in such a way that we are assured it is from Him, for then He will receive the glory.  And His provision will be abundant, lavish, to the point of even having excess.  Note too the stewardship of the excess.  Jesus said to the disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over.  Let nothing be wasted.”  (v. 12).

As you think about the future plans that He has for you what perspective do you have regarding the resources needed?  Are you planning based upon what you see or what you can trust Him for?

The Leader’s Sense of Destiny

A Kingdom leader’s personal sense of purpose and destiny serve to guide their leadership choices and decisions.  It informs the selection of their team members, their leadership priorities, and personal development.  Where does this sense of purpose and destiny come from?

Resting in God and His Promises

The Lord Jesus invites all those who are weary and burdened to take up the yoke that He offers.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Not only do wise Kingdom leaders yoke themselves with Jesus, but they find confidence to rise above the daily circumstances by resting in His promises for them personally and their leadership.  Those personal promises form the basis for their sense of destiny and purpose.  Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me…”  God’s power and character stand behind His promises, thus a Kingdom leader’s confidence.   Regarding David, Paul reminds us, “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep…”

Purpose and Destiny Revealed

The Lord will guide and direct the Kingdom leader as they seek to follow His purposes.  The Lord will use the Word (Psalm 119:105), the inner voice of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 30:21), and open doors of opportunity (Isaiah 43:18-19; Revelation 3:8).  And who the Lord calls He also equips to accomplish His purposes.

So as we begin a new year and you reflect upon the coming months, how is your sense of purpose and divine destiny?  Are you yoked with Him and in step with Him?  Are you praying over His promises and listening carefully to the voice of the Spirit within you?  What doors of opportunity has He opened for you to trust Him to help you through?

Living a Life of Faith #2

Faith is not trusting the seen but believing the unseen.  It is not looking at circumstances and probabilities, but to Him who knows no limits to resources and power.  Abraham demonstrated this when at the age of 75 he was told that he and Sarah would have a son from whom the world would be blessed.  For twenty-five years Abraham walked with the promise of God while his body aged.

Finally, at the age of 100 Isaac was born.  Paul writes in Romans 12:18-21, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

God knows our tendency to shrink back when facing the unknown and unseen.  He thus gives us promises, promises backed by His character and resources, that we can cling to as anchors for our souls in times of trials.  These Scriptural promises are the bedrock of our faith that keeps us believing when hope is gone.

Here is what A.W. Tozer said concerning walking by faith: “We must remember that God always acts like Himself.  He has never at any time anywhere in the vast universe acted otherwise than in character with His infinite perfections.  This knowledge should be a warning to the enemies of God, and it cannot but be an immense consolation to His friends.

“Though God dwells in the center of eternal mystery, there need be no uncertainty about how He will act in any situation covered by His promises.  These promises are infallible predictions.  God will always do what He has promised to do when His conditions are met.  And His warnings are no less predictive:  “The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5).

“In the light of all this how vain is the effort to have faith by straining to believe the promises in the Holy Scriptures.  A promise is only as good as the one who made it, but it is as good, and from this knowledge springs our assurance.  By cultivating the knowledge of God we at the same time cultivate our faith.  Yet while so doing we look not at our faith but at Christ, its author and finisher.  Thus the gaze of the soul is not in, but out and up to God.  So the health of the soul is secured.”  [i]

J.O. Sanders said, “God encourages us to ask as freely for the impossible as the possible, since to Him all difficulties are the same size–less than Himself.”  Trust Him!  Trust His promises!!

“Great faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future.  It’s simply taking God at His word and taking the next step.”   Joni Eareckson Tada

[i]   The Incredible Christian  by A.W. Tozer,  Tyndale House Publishing, Wheaton, Illinois  1964   p. 28

 

 

 

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.

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