Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “sacrifice”

Leading from Trust Relationships

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.                   Luke 5:4-11  ESV

Early in His relationship with these two pairs of brothers who were also fishing partners, Jesus needed to establish a trust relationship for He would ask them to follow Him into an unknown (to them) future.  Their sacrifice and cost would be great and He, knowing this, had to establish a platform of trust from which they would be willing to follow Him.

Note Peter’s response when instructed to put out into deeper water and let down their nets.  He knew that daytime was not the time to fish.  He knew that they had already tried and failed on their own.  They had lots of previous experience and fishing was their expertise, so why do this futile exercise?

Peter says to Jesus, “But at your word I will let down the nets.” This was foundational in his relationship with Jesus – obedience to Jesus and not logic, experience or worldly wisdom was key.  He trusted the word of Jesus, no doubt with some hesitancy, and was rewarded with an amazing haul of fish.  Peter’s response was submission and a willingness to follow Christ and His leadership, even to the point of leaving his vocation.

Kingdom leaders lead from a platform of trust that we build between ourselves and those we lead.  This trust is built over time as we ask others to trust our judgment and follow our lead.

Trust is earned, not given.  It is built over time as we make deposits into our ‘trust bank account.’ But it can be quickly lost and the bank account emptied through untrustworthy behavior.

Major on building trust with those you lead and they will follow!

 

Trusting God with your Legacy

Remember me with favor, O my God.          Nehemiah 6:31   (NIV 1984)

Four times Nehemiah asks that the Lord “remember” him for his faithful and sacrificial leadership (Nehemiah 5:19; 13:14, 22, 31).  Nehemiah entrusted the lasting impact and any possible reward for his labors to the Lord who sees all and rewards those who are faithful (see Hebrews 11:6; Matthew 25 – Parable of the Talents; Luke 19 – Parable of the 10 Gold Coins).  Unfortunately, for many leaders, we seek to ensure that we get the credit, reward, accolades, and affirmation of success we think are due us, rather than leaving those outcomes to the Lord.

Here’s several spiritual checks that help keep us on the right path:

  1.  We all want to be well-thought-of.  That’s natural.  But, do we tend to grab the ‘spotlight’ and make sure that it is shining directly upon us?  Can we share the spotlight with others, acknowledging their contribution in our success?
  2. Leaders often sacrifice much – many times without the knowledge of others.  Is it enough that Jesus sees my sacrifices and the hard work I put in?  Or, do I need to let others know of my labors on their behalf, seeking words or deeds of appreciation back from them?
  3. Can I trust Jesus that He not only sees my labor and sacrifice, but that He will also reward me in His way and in His time for my labor?
  4. How important is it that I get the credit for any successes or contributions?
  5. Do I see my leadership as a right or a privilege?  Do I have a sense of stewardship of my leadership responsibility – a responsibility that one day I will have to give an account to God for?

Jesus says in Luke 17:7-10 – “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep.  Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?  Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”

For who makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?     1 Corinthians 4:7   (NIV  1984)

Be Very Careful How You Live

The late Francis Schaeffer titled his now famous book on Western culture and a Christian apologetic, How Should We Then Live?  In light of who we are and who we represent as Kingdom leaders, how should we live?  How should we lead?  Paul has much to say in answer to this question in his book, Ephesians.

In Ephesians 4:1-2, Paul states, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  The exhortation to live a certain lifestyle is couched in the heavenly calling that we have received as followers of Christ.  He immediately follows this contextual reminder with an exhortation on ‘being,’ not doing.  Note the character qualities listed as keys to being able to live out this calling lifestyle – humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance rooted in love.  The ability to live and lead a life worthy of our calling flows out of Christlike character.

Paul continues the theme on how to live the Christian life in verses 17-19 of the same chapter – “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking…Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”  The wasted (futile) life is one that gives itself to sensuality and temporal pleasure.

In the following chapter, Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul encourages us to, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  The mature Christian life will be marked by love in all areas.  Like the love of God, it will the a sacrificial love that unconditionally accepts others.

He ends the qualities of this life we are to live with one final exhortation in Ephesians 5:8-10 – “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”  He comes back full circle to the necessity of Christlike character in the Christlike life – goodness, righteousness, and truthfulness in all we say and do.

And now we come to the conclusion of the question we began with, “How to live a life pleasing to God?”  In Ephesians 5:15-17 we read, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.   Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”   (NIV  1984)

May we live and lead in such a wise way, understanding the Lord’s will and seeking to please Him alone, that we hear Him say at the end of our life, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Paul’s Partners in the Work of the Kingdom

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.                               1 Corinthians 3:9     (NIV  1984)

As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ.                                  2 Corinthians 8:23     (NIV  1984)

In Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthian church, he addresses the issue of factions forming around certain leaders – particularly Apollos and himself.  He defuses the argument with the statement that all are nothing more than God’s servants (doulos) and fellow workers (synergos) with God.  And he continues that it was truly God who brought about the spiritual growth in their lives.

Paul’s perspective on the work was what Jesus taught in Matthew 11 – “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 11:29-30  (NIV  1984)

Paul was very clear that he was yoked together with Jesus as he sought to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.  And yet, while he was laboring as an “expert builder,” he was under no illusion as to who was truly bringing about the results.  It was Christ!

Paul uses that same word picture of a “fellow worker” (co-laborer) in his second letter to the Corinthian church.  But this time the term is used to refer to Titus, who had recently met Paul to report the response to his first letter.

It appears that Paul had entrusted the delivery of the first letter to Titus with that plan that they would meet in Troas to debrief on the response (see 2 Corinthians 2:12ff).  But, for some reason Titus was delayed, and therefore Paul moved on to northern Greece and it was there that they met and Paul sent his second letter, again carried by Titus.

In describing his relationship to Titus, he says that Titus is a “partner and fellow worker.”  Titus had previously joined Paul from Antioch to meet with the Twelve in the Jerusalem to discuss the essence of the gospel message that Paul was teaching among the Gentiles (see Galatians 2).  Titus (probably a Gentile believer), joined with Paul and Barnabas on the trip to Jerusalem as “exhibit A” of what a Gentile believer looked like.  And Titus was later sent on special assignment to Crete by Paul to help establish the work after Paul had left behind a foundation for the spread of the gospel (see the book of Titus).

Paul acknowledges two partners in his work – Christ, first and foremost, and Titus, illustrative of his teammates like Apollos, Silas, Timothy, and  Luke.  Both are key to accomplishing the work.  Christ the center of our work as Kingdom leaders and then the team whom God gives us to accomplish our calling.

Who are your ‘fellow workers’ or ‘co-laborers.’  Have you told the Lord recently how grateful you are for the privilege of being yoked to Him?  And have you expressed to your co-laboring team (including your spouse) how appreciative you are for their hard work and sacrifices that they are making?

7 Woes for Leaders – #4

Jesus launches into a scathing rebuke of the religious leaders around Him at the dinner table of a local Pharisee (see Luke 11:37-52).  This passage begins a list of seven failures that these leaders experienced.  The following continues the list of six failures that are prefaced with a dire warning, “Woe to you…”

Here’s #4  –  “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”  v 44   (NIV 1984)

Jesus rebukes these religious leaders for they had become toxic to others.  They contaminated others with things detrimental to themselves or the work for which they were called.  They did this through their poor examples or through their direct influence.

As shepherds of God’s flock, Kingdom leaders bear responsibility for their influence upon those under their care.  We must own our influence!  This influence can be from our direct leadership decisions, teaching, or the leadership environment we create.  Or this influence can be more indirect through the example that we personally set as those we lead watch our personal choices, lifestyle, or the values we uphold through our behavior.

A leader worthy of being followed will be one whose leadership influence promotes freedom in the Spirit (Galatians 5) – not to do as one wants, but rather, freedom to sacrificially serve Christ.  Their teaching will be focused on Christ, upholding Him as the model worthy of imitating.  Those they lead will flourish in the environment they create for it affirms God-given individual design differences and encourages all to grow to maturity.

These Kingdom leaders are very aware of the influence they have through their personal example.  They seek to live a life of self-sacrifice for the sake of Christ first and for the sake of others to imitate.  While they may have freedom to indulge, they are sensitive to those who may have more sensitive consciences and choose not to for their sake.  They would not say, “Do what I say, not what I do.”  But rather, “Follow my example as I follow Christ.”  (see 2 Timothy 1:13)

Kingdom leaders are sobered by the reality that one day we will have to give an account to the Lord for our leadership (Hebrews 13:17).  This accountability is not just the missional component of our leadership, but also the influence that we had on those who followed our leadership.  Task and people are both important as we lead.

Are you aware of the influence you have on those around you?  Are you setting the pace as well as setting the example worthy of being imitated?

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!

 

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