Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “transitioning leadership”

Leadership Changes

“So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus–from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.” So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven. Acts 1:21-26 NLT

During the ten days between the Lord’s ascension back to heaven from the Mount of Olives until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, Peter suggested that they choose a replacement for Judas Iscariot who had betrayed Jesus. He said this based upon Psalm 109:8 which talks of another who will replace the lost one. Let’s note some principles for replacing leaders.

First, we note that before they talked about specific people, they defined the qualifications for the candidates. A candidate would be, “from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus–from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us.” Any candidate would be a man who had been with Jesus since the time of His baptism by John the Baptist until the ascension back to heaven just recently. This would be a ‘high bar’ to meet and would ensure someone who had seen and heard what the other Eleven had experienced with Jesus. Define the qualities, characteristics, and competencies needed for the job.

Secondly, we see that they defined the ‘job’ of this new replacement. “Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.” Clarify the job that the candidate will fulfill. Put it in writing!

Third, identify candidates who meet the qualifications for the job. The disciples identified two men – Mattias and Barsabbas who met the qualifications.

Fourth, they prayed and asked for the Lord to show who He had chosen for this vital role. The Eleven were really leading a process of discernment, seeking to identify the individual whom the Lord had already chosen. This was a spiritual process, not a political one.

Last, we note that they made the decision between the two – doing so by casting lots. This may seem arbitrary, or chance driven, but culturally it was a common method for decision making – similar to our casting votes. It was choosing black or white stones out of a bag, or long straw vs short straw. Regardless of the specific means, they trusted that God would direct the final choice to the one whom He had already chosen.

Kingdom leaders will be chosen and will transition their leadership to another – it is a matter of when, not if. Prepare now for the steps in the process of the selection, as well as those steps for the transition to another. May you do it with grace and in a God-honoring way!

Moving On to What’s Next

Here’s a second conversation with Lorne Sanny in March 2003 – this topic was on Moving On to a New Leadership Role.

Many make the mistake of rushing to what’s next
o They don’t like to live with the ambiguity of not knowing what they do
o It’s like wading across a stream – don’t rush; take one step at a time
o Hebrews 11:8 – Abraham did not know where he was going when he left

Delayed gratification is key attitude
o It’s about contribution first, then organizational issues second

Don’t be afraid of pursuing dead ends
o Not every road is the right road the first time

Many are so driven to production that they can’t wait to get on with something else
o Rest and hope in the Lord – Ps. 130:5
o Walk with God day by day – Ps. 61:8

Consider your responsibility to your family at this stage of life
o Grandparents role – Ps. 128:6

  •  “see” means get to know your grandchildren
  •  Doesn’t mean that an international assignment is wrong if you have grandchildren
  • But if live away from them, be all there for them when you furlough or are with them
  • It’s the little times together that can really make a difference in their lives

Be sure to give the new leader who follows you “space”

Restrain yourself from offering your advice and opinions after you leave (unless asked)

Don’t “overstay your welcome” as a leader
o Know and determine when to leave your role to another
o Don’t wait until you have to be asked to leave!

Transitioning Your Leadership

All leaders will transition their leadership. It is not a question of if, but rather when will I hand it to someone else. Having this reality in perspective from the beginning of a leadership role can be very helpful when we come to the end. As Stephen Covey reminds us, “Begin with the end in mind.” Here are some practical reminders that will help ensure that you transition your leadership well to those who come after you.
1. Be intentional about your transition – plan for it.

a. Develop a bench of potential candidates to take your role
b. Expose them to tasks and people that will prepare them to lead in your place.
c. Include them in problem solving and discussions that will stretch them and get them out of their comfort zones.

2. Make the selection for your replacement far enough in advance so that you can overlap some and coach the new leader for a period of time.

a. Don’t make this overlap too long and be sure to give the new leader lots of ‘room’ to lead and make changes.
b. Make this timeline clear from the beginning and then exit the stage.
c. Give them freedom to make whatever personnel or system changes that they see are needed. And don’t get upset when they do bring change to things that you held near and dear. You are no longer the leader!

3. Position your replacement for success by not only giving them the title or role, but also give them the authority to lead.

a. A visible ceremony where the title and authority is passed from the old leader to the new is a very helpful reminder to all that “the old has gone and the new has come.”
b. Note that when God transitioned the leadership of Israel from Moses to Joshua, there was a commissioning ceremony in front of the leadership community led by Eleazar the priest. Note too that this commissioning ceremony was God’s idea and that it was done before Moses’ death. See Numbers 27:22-23.
c. Position yourself to be a counselor and coach for a period of time. You can act as one who provides context and background, even advice (if asked for).

4. Move on! Don’t linger, but rather trust God for what’s next!

a. We talk about the importance of finding our identity in being a servant of God and not in our leadership role or title. The test will come when we are transitioning to some other leader.
b. Do we cling to our leadership role or freely give it away to another? Do we demand a lateral or upward organizational move or can we submit to another’s leadership and follow them (even if perhaps they were your direct report previously)?

So who are those candidates that you are intentionally grooming to take your spot? Is that something that excites you or threatens / unsettles you? Kingdom leaders are givers, not takers!

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