Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “sacrifice”

Contented or Confounded?

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

                               Philippians 4:12-13   (NIV 1984)

Paul had discovered a secret.  Perhaps he had not been looking for it, but he did discover it and recognized the value of what he had found.  The great discovery was the answer to the question, “How can one find contentment in this world?”

That fact that Paul says it is a secret implies that the answer to the question is not obvious to many.  It must be found or discovered.  Paul’s need for contentment was revealed through his personal experience of having bounty at times and want at other times.  In both circumstances, plenty and need, Paul saw that he was not content.  Just as there is no satisfaction in accumulation of this world’s material goods, neither is their spiritual maturity in poverty.

Paul discovered that the answer to being content, no matter his circumstances, was to be found in Christ.  Only Jesus Himself could fill whatever contentment was lacking in his life.  It was through the strength of Christ in him, the hope of glory, that Paul was to finally discover lasting contentment.

Note too that Paul had to learn this contentment, it would seem to be a process, not an event.  It was not a natural outcome of his spiritual growth, but rather a secret that he discovered along the way to maturity.  He could do all things through Christ!

So, how’s your journey towards contentment?  Is there a lie you are believing that if you had a change in economic status (usually meaning that we have more, not less) that you would suddenly discover contentment?

Contentment is found in Christ alone.  He will meet your needs for contentment, for you can to everything through Him.

The Cost of Following Jesus

When I was first around The Navigators, the vision of changing the world one person at a time took root in my heart.  Dana and I followed Him by leaving a promising career in equine medicine for the privilege of serving Him as full-time Navigator staff.  As I drove away from the clinic that last day, there was a great joy in my heart with little sense of sacrifice.

That calling eventually led to Indonesia with our three small children.  Five years of waiting for a visa and language study left us sitting in Singapore wondering if we would ever enter the country of our calling.  We did finally enter, but to lead an undergrad student ministry.  We never got to east Java, the role we have waited five years for.  Again the Lord’s faithfulness was evident as we thrived in a fruitful student ministry.

Ten plus years later led to an application for Indonesian citizenship.  But again our plans failed and we landed back in the U.S. with no clear future.  Months of waiting and trusting led to a move to Colorado Springs to join the Collegiate leadership team.  Three more years and I was leading the collegiate work with Dana.  Who would have imagined?

Transitioning the collegiate work led to a decade of coaching leaders in Europe and Dana serving with Nav20s.  Leader development contributions followed and finally a role these past three years as a Field Director for the Nations and serving on the NLT.  Not a clear career path for sure.

With each transition, move, and new responsibilities came new challenges and fears to be faced by faith and trust in His promises.  He has shown Himself faithful with each transition and surprised us with His wonderful goodness.  No amount of planning could account for the amazing journey Dana and I have found ourselves on.  There is no real sense of sacrifice, for His goodness far outweighs anything we have been asked to leave behind.

It continues as He has promised – to give back one-hundred times all that we may leave in serving Him (Mark 10:29-30).  May you too see the Lord’s faithfulness as you follow Him along the unique journey He has for you.

Living a Committed Life #1

In Luke 14:25-35 we read, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,  saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’  “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.  In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.  “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Three times in this passage Jesus repeats the phrase “cannot be my disciple” (vs. 26,27,and 33).  These are three conditions that must be met if we are to become true followers of Him.  In verse 26 He says that we must put Him first above all other human relationships.  In fact, our love for Jesus must so far overshadow our love for others, that our love for others compares as hate.

In verse 27 Jesus reminds us once again that we must carry our cross.  This is similar imagery to what we looked at earlier in Luke 9:23.  To carry one’s cross means death–death to self.  It means death to one’s desires, hopes, plans, and dreams in order to fulfill the plans Christ has for us.  Finally, in verse 33, He tells us that we must give up everything if we are to be His disciples.  Nothing can claim a hold on our hearts and lives if we truly follow Him.  Everything is in an open hand to Christ, allowing Him to remove or add as He sees fit.

 

Living a Disciplined Life #2

Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God’s will as a young man, and God impressed upon his heart that his life would be spent for China.  He began to dedicate his life in preparation for fulfilling this calling.

“The study of Chinese, also, was entered upon with ardor.  A grammar of that formidable language would have cost more than twenty dollars and a dictionary at least seventy-five.  He could afford neither.  But with a copy of the Gospel of Luke in Chinese, by patiently comparing brief verses with their equivalent in English, he found out the meaning of more than six hundred characters.  These he learned and made into a dictionary of his own, carrying on at the same time other lines of study.

‘I have begun to get up at five in the morning [he wrote to his sister at school] and find it necessary to go to bed early.  I must study if I mean to go to China.  I am fully decided to go, and am making every reparation I can.  I intend to rub up my Latin, to learn Greek and the rudiments of Hebrew, and get as much general information as possible.  I need your prayers.’

“…’having now the twofold object in view [he recalled] of accustoming myself to endure hardness, and of economizing in order to help those among whom I was laboring in the Gospel, I soon found that I could live upon very much less than I has previously thought possible.  Butter, milk, and other luxuries I ceased to use, and found that by living mainly on oatmeal and rice, with occasional variations, a very small sum was sufficient for my needs.  In this way I had more than two-thirds of my income available for other purposes, and my experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.’” [i]

The prophet Jeremiah once complained to God about the difficulties in life he experienced.  God replied,  “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?  If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”    Jeremiah 12:5

God’s purpose in allowing those trying times was to prepare Jeremiah for his ministry in the future.  He had to endure these difficulties in order that he might be better prepared for the times ahead.

God’s training program is to discipline us for the purpose he has for us.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:  ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,  because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?  If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”                      Hebrews 12:5-11

The words ‘disciple’ and ‘discipline’ find there roots in the same word.  To follow Christ as His disciple means that we are called to disciplined living.  Disciplined living, like sacrificial living, is a daily choice

The heights of great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.           Wordsworth

[i]  Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret  by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press  Chicago, Illinois   p. 22-26

Living a Life of Sacrifice #2

C.T. Studd came from a wealthy English family and was a 21 year-old student at Cambridge University when he trusted Christ as his personal Savior.  Studd was an outstanding athlete, with a possible career in professional sports, in addition to being a good student.  After his conversion, he dedicated his life and wealth to Christ.

He and six other Cambridge students offered themselves to Hudson Taylor’s China Inland Mission in 1885.  Nine years later he returned to England with a wife, but broken in health.  After recuperating, he gave away his home to the mission and traveled throughout America for two years recruiting young men and women to give themselves to missions.  In 1900 the family moved to India for six years when once again they had to return to England.  In 1910 he left his family in England to pioneer a new mission into the heart of Africa.  This ministry eventually became Worldwide Evangelization Crusade (WEC) which continues to this day.

Studd personally had a ministry on four continents and through those he touched, the entire world.  But this adventure began with a decision to deny fame and fortune in this world in order that he might follow Christ.

Jim Elliott was martyred by Latin American Indians as a young man.  While a Wheaton College student he dedicated his life to following Christ, whatever the cost.  The cry of his life was this, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose.”

May the Lord raise up a new generation of men and women who have the spirit of Studd and Elliott!  May it begin with me!

 

Living a Life of Sacrifice #1

Sacrifice means, “to give something up for the sake of something of higher value.”  Sacrificial living is to give up our own lives for the purpose of following Christ.  Jesus modeled the perfect sacrificial life by giving His very life for the sins of mankind.  It is this type of lifestyle, one that chooses to live for others instead of self, that models real love for people (John 15:12-14).

Sacrificial living is a daily decision, not a one time event.  Paul urges us to, “….offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1).”  We are to continually offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices as an act of worship to God for all He has done for us.  He died for us!  Living for Him is the least we can do!

Jesus reminds us that being His disciple means, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  To follow Christ means that we must first deny ourselves.  That is, give up all rights to our own plans, desires, dreams, and hopes for our lives and let God determine our future.  It is an abandonment of self into the loving hands of God.  Secondly, we must take up our cross daily.  To the first century audience, the picture of a person carrying a cross meant that they were condemned to death by the Roman government.  They had no future–only death.  Jesus uses this picture to illustrate that this death to self is to be daily, not just a one time decision.  Each and every day we must choose to live for Christ and not self.

Sacrificial living goes against the wisdom of this world.  The world says to seek self-gratification.  “If it feels good do it!”  The implication being, if it doesn’t feel good, then it should not be acted upon.  To choose to deny self in order to gain the opportunity to serve God is something that will be hard for others to understand.

Sacrifice is painful!  It cost God’s Son His life!  There are no guarantees we will live a pain-free life.  God does not apologize for asking much of His followers.  It is His right.  He owns us.  He bought us with His own blood.  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

But God also promises us that whatever cost we are asked to pay in denying self and following Him He will repay multiple times over.  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).

Therefore, whatever has been sacrificed for Christ, when compared with what has been gained in return, will not seem to be too great a cost to pay.

Living a Life of Love #1

God’s plan for this world is to burn it up (1 Pet. 3:3-10)!  What will abide out of this world after the fire of God are two things:  the Word of God (Mat. 24:35) and people (Rev. 7:9; 22:5).  God loves people.  When deciding on an inheritance for Himself, He chose to give Himself people (Deut. 32:8-9).  God desires to be with people forever and plans to share all of His creation with them.  People who live with the unseen world’s values will invest in people because people are eternal and valuable to God.

God so loved people that He sent His Son to die for them!  The people of this world who do not yet know Christ must be given the opportunity to believe.  Believers will have to go and tell them of Christ’s death and resurrection.  For many this will mean leaving family, friends, and their home culture in order to take the gospel to those who have never heard.  It will take the attitude of  the Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier, who served in India, Japan, and Southeast Asia.  He said he longed to be back in Paris, “to go shouting up and down the streets to tell the students to give up their small ambitions and come eastward to preach the gospel of Christ.” [i]

Not only do these people need to repent and believe the gospel, but afterwards they must be established in their new-found life in Christ.  The Apostle Paul was moved by love to impart the gospel and his life as he followed-up the converts of his ministry.  He wrote, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thes. 2:8).

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.         Colossians 2:6-7

These young believers will need someone who can come along side them and help them understand the Bible and apply it to life situations.  It will not take spiritual giants, but a person who is just a little farther along in their pilgrimage who is willing to share with others what they have learned.  Someone put it this way, “It’s like a new patient who has checked into a hospital getting help from some other patients.  They can help because they know the hospital, having been there a little longer than the new patient.”

[i]   Give Up Your Small Ambitions  by Michael C. Griffiths,  Moody Press  Chicago, Illinois   1978   p.6

The Amazing C.T. Studd

There are no guarantees we will live a pain-free life. God does not apologize for asking much of His followers. It is His right. He owns us. He bought us with His own blood. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

But God also promises us that whatever cost we are asked to pay in denying self and following Him He will repay multiple times over. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30). Therefore, whatever has been sacrificed for Christ, when compared with what has been gained in return, will not seem to be too great a cost to pay.

C.T. Studd came from a wealthy English family and was a 21 year-old student at Cambridge University when he trusted Christ as his personal Savior. Studd was an outstanding athlete, with a possible career in professional sports, in addition to being a good student. After his conversion, he dedicated his life and wealth to Christ.

He and six other Cambridge students offered themselves to Hudson Taylor’s China Inland Mission in 1885. Nine years later he returned to England with a wife, but broken in health. After recuperating, he gave away his home to the mission and traveled throughout America for two years recruiting young men and women to give themselves to missions. In 1900 the family moved to India for six years when once again they had to return to England. In 1910 he left his family in England to pioneer a new mission into the heart of Africa. This ministry eventually became Worldwide Evangelization Crusade (WEC) which continues to this day.

Studd personally had a ministry on four continents and through those he touched, the entire world. But this adventure began with a decision to deny fame and fortune in this world in order that he might follow Christ.

Jim Elliott, martyred by Latin American Indians as a young man. said this, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose.”

A Sacrificial Life

Sacrifice means, “to give something up for the sake of something of higher value.” Sacrificial living is to give up our own lives for the purpose of following Christ. Jesus modeled the perfect sacrificial life by giving His very life for the sins of mankind. It is this type of lifestyle, one that chooses to live for others instead of self, that models real love for people (John 15:12-14).

Sacrificial living is a daily decision, not a one time event. Paul urges us to, “…. offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1).” We are to continually offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices as an act of worship to God for all He has done for us. He died for us! Living for Him is the least we can do!

Jesus reminds us that being His disciple means, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). To follow Christ means that we must first deny ourselves. That is, give up all rights to our own plans, desires, dreams, and hopes for our lives and let God determine our future. It is an abandonment of self into the loving hands of God. Secondly, we must take up our cross daily. To the first century audience, the picture of a person carrying a cross meant that they were condemned to death by the Roman government. They had no future–only death. Jesus uses this picture to illustrate that this death to self is to be daily, not just a one time decision. Each and every day we must choose to live for Christ and not self.

Sacrificial living goes against the wisdom of this world. The world says to seek self-gratification. “If it feels good do it!” The implication being, if it doesn’t feel good, then it should not be acted upon. To choose to deny self in order to gain the opportunity to serve God is something that will be hard for others to understand.

Are you living for self or dying to self?  It’s a daily, moment by moment choice and lifestyle.

The Amazing John Sung

John Sung was a young Chinese believer who was sent by his family to America to study chemistry. After obtaining his PhD from Ohio State he went on to seminary before returning to China. During his time in the U.S., God called John to a life of service for the Kingdom. On the ship home one evening, he took his diplomas and threw them into the Pacific Ocean, telling God he would follow Him wherever He led.

After arriving home, he told his family of his calling and decision to serve Christ rather than teach science. The family thought he had lost his mind and committed him a mental institution. During his 193 days in the asylum, Sung read the Bible through 40 times! Finally, the family had him released, and he became an itinerant evangelist traveling throughout China and many Asian countries. His fifteen-year ministry was characterized by unusual power and influence until his death at the age of 43.

Not all of those who seek God’s best will be asked to give up their careers in order to serve Christ full-time. Many will serve Him in God-honoring careers, being light and salt in the marketplace. But whatever their vocation, the pilgrims of this new generation of believers will often live lives that will be misunderstood by others.

Pilgrim values will be contrary to the values of this world. Life decisions based on eternal values will go against the tide of this world’s norms. Pilgrims will be thought of as foolish or at least not living up to their full potential. It will only be in the world to come that we will see completely who made the correct choices. “But wisdom is proved right by all her children” (Luke 7:35).

How’s your value system?  Is it based upon this world or the world to come?

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