Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Strategic leading”

Making Wise Personnel Decisions – 2

For Kingdom leaders, personnel decisions can be the most time-consuming and challenging of all the decisions you make.  The complexity of these decisions is due to the many considerations involved:  What’s best for the strategic mission? or What’s best for the person / their family?

Below are some guiding principles and ideas on how to make wise personnel placement decisions.

Staffing Change / Placement / Move decisions 

  1. Kingdom leaders lead in the midst of a tension.  At times we have competing values between a staff person’s needs and desires vs the mission’s (God-given task) needs and desires.  We do value both the individual staff person and an awareness of our stewardship of the mission God has asked us to carry out.  In staffing and placement decisions these tensions can be very real and seem unsolvable so that both are addressed.
  2. A guiding principle to help us in this dilemma would be – we want to have a bias towards the person and their needs (not necessarily their desires), knowing that the Lord will provide all the resources needed to accomplish anything He asks us to do.
  3. We must acknowledge that in some situations it may be more strategic to stay a longer time in one location, rather than move.  Role changes and physical moves are made in light of fulfilling our strategic mission.
  4. When making staffing decisions, there are some issues that we must be very considerate about – personal health needs, children’s development and education, extended family concerns (i.e. caring for aging parents), financial budgets (city budgets vs rural budgets), personal ‘fit’ for the new assignment, etc.
  5. But, while we do consider the above, we must not shrink back from asking for sacrifice or going against one’s personal desires.  Sacrifice is the lifestyle of a follower of Jesus and certainly a part of laboring for Him.  In Mark 10:29-30 the Lord speaks of reward for those who leave behind (sacrifice) family relationships, homes and vocations (fields) for His sake and the gospel.  We are all called to labor for Christ, not ‘vacation’ for Christ!
  6. If one is asked to make a strategic job change or physical move for the sake of contributing to the advancement of the gospel and helping fulfill our God-given mission, there may be reasons for not accepting the invitation.  These reasons must be more than, “I just don’t want to move or do this.”  Or, “I don’t sense that this is best.”  Just as the reason for suggesting the change should be more than, “You’ve been there a long time and need a new challenge.”
  7. If there are sound reasons for saying ‘no’ and we decide to withdraw an invitation, we must not hesitate to return and make a different ask at some time in the future.  We will want to discern if it truly was a wrong ‘fit’ issue or just a personal desire not to change or move.  World-changing mission will require sacrifice, change and mobility to advance the gospel among the lost.

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”    Luke 18:29-30  ESV

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.    Romans 12:1  ESV

Making Wise Personnel Decisions -1

For Kingdom leaders, personnel decisions can be the most time-consuming and challenging of all the decisions you make.  The complexity of these decisions is due to the many considerations involved:  What’s best for the strategic mission?, What’s best for the person / their family?, What’s the best timing for this decision?, What are the short-term and long-term implications for both the person and the mission?, etc.  It may seem like you never have all the information you want or need when you have to make the final decision.

Below are some guiding principles and ideas on how to make wise personnel hiring decisions.

Keys for hiring the right people 

  1. Know, believe and be convinced that the Lord will provide all the resources you need to accomplish all that He is asking you to do – including any personnel needs that you may have.
  2. Have a clearly defined role – job description that you are seeking to fill.  Even for entry level positions it will help in recruiting if you have a well-thought through job description (in writing) that you can show to potential candidates with details of their responsibilities and opportunities / benefits.
  3. For Kingdom leaders, our recruiting must include the candidate’s personal calling and the  alignment of their calling to our ministry – mission.  Because of the nature of Kingdom work and the sacrifices asked (i.e. a pay scale often not commensurate with marketplace pay), we want to recruit and hire those who the Lord is calling to join us. This is not just a job that people are being asked to do.  Rather, it is a God-given mission and we are asking people to ‘leave their nets’ and join us in its fulfillment.  It will cost them much to engage with us, but Jesus promises to provide for those who serve Him.  Mark 10:29-30
  4. If they join us just to meet a need, because of the adventure of mission, to co-labor with their friends or some other reason than being called by God, they will soon find reasons to doubt their acceptance of the role.  The costs they will be asked to pay or future challenging and difficult experiences (failures) they may experience will quickly lead to second-guessing their decision to join with us.  This coupled with the enemy sowing seeds of doubt in their hearts and minds will lead them to quit.
  5. Having a clear sense of God’s calling will help us persevere in the difficult times, knowing that the Lord has led us here and He will never forsake us or abandon us.  Rather, He will strengthen us and see us through as we take refuge in Him.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10  ESV

Calling in an Expert

And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the LORD said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the LORD has promised good to Israel.” But he said to him, “I will not go. I will depart to my own land and to my kindred.” And he said, “Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. And if you do go with us, whatever good the LORD will do to us, the same will we do to you.”     Numbers 10:29-32  ESV

Israel had been in the Sinai for two years since the Exodus and now the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle and they were to begin their pilgrimage.  The Lord had told them that this journey would last for 40 years – until the generation that did not believe and obey His promises had died.

It’s interesting that though the Lord was guiding Israel with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, Moses still sought the help and advice of a local expert who knew the environment.  The cloud would give them the general direction to move, but the large number of people had to choose a place to camp.  It was in this selection of a camping spot that Moses sought the help of a local expert – Hobab – for he knew ‘where we should camp in the wilderness.’

Kingdom leaders are certainly led by God through the Holy Spirit in their decisions, just as Moses and Israel were led by the Lord in their desert journey.  But a wise leader knows that there are situations when the counsel and help of an expert can be of great assistance.

Moses recruited Hobab to join with them in the journey.  He promised him reward for his service – the same reward that all would share together.  It seems that Hobab was a brother-in-law to Moses who he had come to know and trust during his forty years of working for Jethro (also known as Reuel – see Exodus 2:18).  Though Moses had forty years of desert experience, he recognized that Hobab knew much more about desert living than he and thus the request for help.

Wise Kingdom leaders know when to ask for outside expertise for supporting their leadership.  This takes humility and teachability to acknowledge we do not have all the answers.  Ask for help when you need it!

Pioneering vs Inheriting a Ministry

I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.  Joshua 24:13 ESV

Joshua is recounting what the Lord had done in delivering on His promises to give Israel the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob many years before.  Note that God’s land of blessing had been worked, planted and built by others.  Israel received from the Lord the hard work done by others before them.

Kingdom leaders sometimes have the privilege of pioneering a new work of the Lord.  But often they have the privilege of inheriting an on-going ministry from another.  Both are special privileges from the Lord as we serve Him.  One is no better than another for all is being done to please Him, grow His Kingdom and not our own.

Some leaders will have pioneering-apostolic gifts and calling to launch new works where none existed.  They are designed by God for such a work and must have the wisdom needed to know when to transition the work they founded on to another.  Paul knew his work was to plant the Gospel in new communities and then move on.  He states, “… and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”  Romans 15:20-21

Many Kingdom leaders will inherit an ongoing ministry, ideally one not in crisis, and take what others have done and improve, expand and grow it to a whole new level.  This too is a great privilege that requires special gifting and calling.  It is never maintaining what is already in existence.  Leaders are never satisfied with the status quo.  Rather, they build upon what is there and create a new work on the foundation already laid by others.  Jesus told the Twelve, “I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”  John 4:38 ESV

So whether you are pioneering a new work or building on an older one, both are callings with unique challenges.  May you receive these as from the Lord and work with all your strength for His glory.

 

PS  A Primer for Kingdom Leaders:  100 Reflections for Improving Your Leadership – A collection of 100 of my most popular blogs – compiled, edited and available for FREE download.  See Tom’s Books page above to download.

Vision Casting

Effectively casting vision never comes to an end. It is a discipline.     Derwin Gray

Casting vision is one of the primary responsibilities of a leader and Kingdom leaders especially must align this vision with God’s eternal purposes.  In the quote above we are reminded that vision casting is an on-going process, not an event.

Vision is a faith statement about an unknown future that we see by faith.  Vision statements usually have a time horizon of 5-10 years out in front of our current reality.  Beyond 10 years it’s difficult to have a clear vision due to the rapidity of change and the multitude of unexpected influences that can impact the vision outcomes.

Good vision statements have three common characteristics: they are clear, concise and compelling.

First, they must be clear.  That is, the vision must be clear enough to see the destination or outcome.  An unclear vision makes it difficult for others to decide if they want to join with us or support it financially.

Secondly, they must be concise.  Vision statements that are too long or too complicated are not memorable or easily repeated.  Conciseness takes effort to choose exactly the right words that convey enough to help others visualize where we are going, but not so wordy that it seems complicated or confusing.

Lastly, good vision statements are compelling.  They demand a response from us.  They capture our hearts, not our heads.  They raise our sights to the future and inspire us to act.  They draw us to join in and help make that future vision a reality.  They are easy to recruit other to because they are big enough to allow room for many to join with us.

Casting vision is a primary job of the team leader.  You are the primary mouthpiece for the vision.  If you share an unclear vision then those around you will be even more unclear as they are forced to ‘translate’ what you have said into their context.

Vision much be repeated again and again, for it comes into and out of focus for those we lead.  Changing realities and ‘glorious opportunities’ can divert attention from what was once very clear, but now seems less important or even boring.  Keeping the vision before those we lead is a discipline that we develop as we lead, always reminding those around us of ‘why’ and ‘what’ we are about.

Vision – don’t leave home without it!

Planning into a Turbulent Future 2

Storm clouds precede a coming change, but what exactly that storm will be when it arrives is unknown.  Scenario planning anticipates several possible future situations and helps us prepare for the coming changes. It is not a lack of faith, but it is wisdom to anticipate the coming storms.

Here’s some practical ideas on how to lead your team in scenario planning:

  1. Scenario planning requires that leaders think ahead in order to stay proactive and not reactive in their leadership.  While one can’t be too detailed in future scenario plans, one can anticipate possibilities and likely responses.  Then, as the future becomes clearer, we add more details and follow one of our most likely scenarios.
  2. A key word is “if”  – that is, if this happens, then this should be your response.  If….then… thinking and planning is scenario planning.
  3. When thinking about a future scenario, you must first determine the time horizon for your planning.  To use a weather metaphor – are you thinking about the blizzard, the winter season or the beginning of a ‘little ice age?’
  4. Start future scenario thinking by taking stock of your current reality.  Use a tool like a SWOT analysis (current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to think on a macro scale for the whole.  Once you have a handle on the current reality, then begin to think and plan for possible future scenarios within your time horizon.
  5. It seems wise and prudent to think out scenarios dealing with three possible futures:  1) minor changes in the future (we go back to almost our previous normal, with a few minor adjustments – like normal start dates are pushed back a little); 2) some significant changes that impact our ability to serve as we have in the past (fall schedule is disrupted – virtual connections continue; access to our audience is difficult, funding gets difficult due to a poor economy and job losses); and 3) major changes (this is ‘little ice age’ thinking – what we thought was just for several months, now looks like it will continue for the foreseeable future).
  6. Do this scenario thinking with your leadership team because there will be differing perspectives from different people and especially if you are geographically dispersed.  Being more inclusive in this will help with ownership and build a ‘guiding coalition’ for leading change as you go forward (see Kotter’s book – Leading Change).
  7. Always remember that the future is known by the Lord and His Spirit can help you anticipate it and prepare wisely for it.  Listen to Him for guidance.  He’s vested in your ‘success’ because His name, glory and purposes are at stake.  Trust Him to lead you.

Be wise.  Be safe.  Be bold!  Trust Him who knows the future!

Planning into a Turbulent Future 1

And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.  As you enter the house, greet it.  And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.  And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.     Matthew 10:11-14  ESV

Jesus was preparing His disciples for a short-term mission assignment.  He gave them very specific instructions on what to take or not take with them, the audience of their mission and how they were to interact with those they were sent to.  But note that He also helps them anticipate various responses when they enter the villages – both when received positively and also when they are rejected.  He is helping them by doing some scenario planning.

When Jesus sends the two disciples to get a colt, he again helps them anticipate a possible response to those who might think they are stealing it (see Mark 11:1-7).  And it came to pass exactly as anticipated.

Now this is fascinating because Jesus knows the responses they will receive, but they don’t.  Thus, He gives them some preparation so that they are not taken by surprise and have some forethought on how to deal with differing scenarios.  Scenario planning that anticipates several possible future situations is not a lack of faith, but rather it is wisdom.

The enemy will always try to take your focus off the Lord and place it on our threatening circumstances.  While paying attention to and planning for current and possible realities, always, always keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  Key your head up and your eyes fixed on Him.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.     Hebrews 12:1-2  ESV

Next we will address how to do wise scenario planning… stay tuned!

Leaders and Crisis

Life and leadership bring crisis moments whether we are expecting them or not. They just happen! This reality should prepare us to address them when they show up. But we are often taken by surprise when a crisis interrupts our plans. Crises are not something to be dreaded, but rather embraced.

The following are several thoughts on how to face up to your next leadership crisis:
1. Adjust your attitude! This current crisis is an opportunity for your personal growth as a leader as you address this latest ‘disaster.’ Rather than fearing this crisis, embrace it and look for the Lord to help you not only conquer the problem, but also turn this into a hidden blessing.

2. Move towards it now! It will not solve itself! If ignored, it will probably grow worse, bigger, more ominous, or ripple out to influence more people. Just as David ran towards Goliath (see 1 Samuel 17:48), move towards this threat and engage!

3. Do not delegate your problems to someone else on your team. Others can ‘smell’ that kind of lack of courage or unwillingness to deal with something that is messy.

4. While not delegating the crisis to another, loop in some others for help. You continue to run point on the crisis, but by bring in others for help they too will grow from the experience and their contributions will often help bring about a better solution than if you handled it all yourself.

5. Look for the best solution to the problem, not just the quickest or easiest. One practical discipline that I have tried to develop in this area of problem solving is to force myself to come up with several possible solutions, not just one. But doing this I am often pushing myself to think more deeply or broadly to different, more creative ways to solve the issue. The final action is often some combination of several possible solution scenarios.

6. Expect God to help you. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you (Matthew 28:20). Look to Him in the midst of seeking a way forward. The prayer of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:12 is instructive, “Lord… we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

7. When the crisis abates, and it will, be sure to give thanks for deliverance from the current mess. An ungrateful spirit is disappointing to others serving with you and revealing about our hubris as if we were the ones who really solved the issue.

Crises come and crises go. Your either in the midst of one right now or one is coming soon. Get ready! One person’s crisis is another person’s ‘opportunity.’

[Re-posted from June 2015]

Making Decisions According to God’s Will – 7

The Lord will have no trouble in communicating to us what He wants us to do.  Our problem is doing God’s will, not knowing God’s will!  We must be willing to do whatever He desires for us, before He will let us know His plan for us.

The Lord often uses five means to direct us into His will.  The first is the Word of God – the Bible.  The second is personal peace about the decision when you pray and reflect upon it.  The third means is wise counsel and the fourth is critical thinking.  The fifth and final common means is circumstances.  The Lord can use extra-ordinary means – visions, dreams – but, most often it is these five.

The more of the five things that we see agreeing, pointing in the same direction, the more certain we can be that this is God’s will.  If one or two agree, but the others don’t, we have two possibilities.  It may be God’s will, but the wrong timing.  Or, it may not be God’s will.  In either case, it’s best to wait; time will clarify.  Immaturity will press ahead when things are not clear and pay a big price!    Proverbs 19:2 (NIV) says, “Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way!”

God being God, He will not allow circumstances, governments, organizations, or anyone with authority over us to hinder His plan for us.  In fact, He uses them to direct us to His plan for us (see Joseph in Genesis 50:20).

Remember, the foundation is surrender to doing God’s will.  We can deceive ourselves.  We can find verses to justify about anything.  We can “have peace” about a lot of things.  Satan can open doors for us also.

God knows this.  He knows we can be confused.  He will not let His children stray from His will if they desire it.  So relax.  He will keep you in the way and guide you every step of the process.  He’ll also keep you from wrong decisions.  It gives us a great deal of confidence in facing the future.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him,

And he will direct your paths.           Proverbs 3:5-6  (NIV)

Making Decisions According to God’s Will – 3

Because God is God, He will have no trouble in communicating to us what He wants us to do.  Our problem is doing God’s will, not knowing God’s will!  We must be willing to do whatever He desires for us, before He will let us know His plan for us.

Note, we are talking about major decisions in our lives, not things like, “What will I have for lunch today?”  But rather such decisions as, “Is God calling me into vocational ministry?”

The Lord uses five means to direct us into His will.  The first is the Word of God – the Bible.  The second is personal peace when you pray and reflect upon the decision.

In Isaiah 30:21 (NIV) we read, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  The Spirit will confirm with your spirit that you are on the right path, keep going, don’t give up or doubt.  There will be an inner settledness and confirmation from the Lord that this is the way.

Though you may not have all the answers yet, you will have a deep peace of heart, a rest in your heart, knowing that this is from God.  Doubts only need more facts.  Anxiety only needs more reassurance.  It’s is unbelief and disobedience that we must avoid.

You may have unanswered questions and the Lord may simply say that you must trust me on that one.  But other times your doubts will be removed as you get more clarity on the situation.  The Lord will give you all you need at the right time to make the right decision.

Psalm 143:8,10 say, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. … Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  The Lord will guide and direct you from His Spirit within you.  Listen carefully and you will hear His voice.

Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  John 10:27 (ESV)

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