Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Vision”

Tribute to Michael Yeakley

Michael Yeakley, our oldest child, ended his life’s race at the age of forty this April.  He died unexpectedly of a heart attack while mountain biking here in Colorado.  Dana and I are so grateful for the gift that Michael was to us personally and to many others who knew him.  He leaves behind his wife Joy and two boys: Corban (15) and Byron (13).

While going through some of Michael’s personal papers we discovered the  introductory paragraph to his last will and testament.  As a parent and follower of Jesus Christ, I draw comfort, inspiration, and hope from his words.  Here is a portion of what Michael wrote.

“I, Michael Yeakley…invite you to rejoice with me as my life’s journey is finally over.  I am convinced by faith, that after this life of joy and sorrow, triumph and failure, I will live eternally in heaven with my friend, savior, priest, and king – Jesus Christ,,.  For Jesus is the one and only mediator between both God and man, who saved me from eternal death by sacrificing his life on the cross…

“So, rejoice with me that my spirit is finally free from its earthly shackles.  Rejoice with me as I am no longer an alien and a stranger in the world.  Rejoice with me as I am finally home.”

Michael will be so deeply missed, but we do rejoice with him and look forward to the day when we see him again face-to-face in heaven.

We love you, Michael.

Dad and Mom

If you would like to help Joy and the two boys with a financial gift, follow this link to:  celebratemikeyeakley.com

 

Focus for Impact

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”  Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demon.  Mark 1:35–39   NIV  1984

Jesus had some early recruits in the two sets of brothers who were fishing partners in Capernaum.  They had been with him off and on for about a year now, and life was about to take a major shift for all of them.  Jesus had recruited them to leave the fishing business in order to become vocational ‘religious’ workers – leaders in training.  They had enlisted, leaving family and friends behind, for what would turn out to be a two-year training assignment and a new life-long vocation.

Having just ended an inspirational evening the night before, they discover Jesus alone outside of town spending time in prayer and communion with His Father.  They assume that He will want to continue the wonderful experience of healing and miracles that occurred the night before, so they remind Him that, “everyone is looking for you.”  They assume that He would want to return to Peter and Andrew’s home and heal those who were gathering there.

But, Jesus responded with a risk-taking statement, “Let’s go to the nearby villages…that is why I have come.”  It was a risk to disappoint the expectations of his new recruits.  What if they insisted on Him coming back to help?  There was pressure on Jesus to conform to the wishes of His team and the needs of the masses.  But, Jesus boldly and confidently said ‘no.’

It was His mission – task – purpose that brought clarity to the decision that now had to be made.  He was focused on that purpose – the ‘why’ of His ministry.  Thus, while it may seem difficult, it was not really.  Clarity of purpose – mission made the decision an obvious one.  He must go to the surrounding villages to tell them the Good News of the Kingdom and not be consumed with the needs in Capernaum only.

Clarity of purpose and maintaining that focus is essential for leadership success.  Many a leader has started out well, having a clear vision for what they want to accomplish, but then in the midst of the ‘daily whiteout’ they forget why they are so busy.  Consumed by the immediate needs, they succumb to reactive leadership instead of maintaining their strategic intent.

Don’t fall into this trap.  Stay focused!  Stay strategic!  Don’t substitute busyness for strategic intent!

God’s Purposes

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.                       Psalm 138:8   NIV  1984

After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ …  “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.
Acts 13:22, 36   NIV  1984

David wrote Psalm 138 and testified that the Lord would fulfill His purpose for him.  By faith, David testified that the Lord would do for him what He had promised.  He was certain of it.

One thousand years later Paul testifies about David’s life in a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch on his first missionary journey.  He says that God found David to be a man after God’s own heart who would do whatever God asked of him.  And David did just that.  And when that purpose for his generation was completed, David fell asleep – he died.

Our God is a missional God who works.  Jesus reminds us that the Father is always at work and that He too is working (see John 5:17).  Because we are created in His image, we too are to have a missional mindset.

What is our purpose for which the Lord has made us?  What is it that He wants to accomplish in and through us?  Find that purpose and you will find satisfaction and peace.

Yes, there is the overarching purpose of knowing Him and bringing glory to Him (see John 17:3; Isaiah 43:7).  But there is also a personal purpose (mission, task) for which the Lord created you and redeemed you, asking you to accomplish this during your generation.

Ask Him to show you what that destiny is and then give yourself to it with your whole heart.  You were made for it!

Your purpose…. your destiny ….  your task…  your mission – do you know it and are you following Him into its fulfillment?

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?

Living for the World to Come

What the world needs today is a generation of believers who have as their motto, “No reserves!  No retreats!  No regrets!”  What is needed is a fresh wave of committed men and women who cry out, “Anything!  Anywhere!  Anytime!  for Christ!” 

It will take people who will pay the price to stand against the tide of this world and choose to live for the world to come.  It will take disciples of Christ!

The world today is looking for authenticity in those who call themselves followers of Jesus.  The great crisis facing the world is a spiritual crisis.  The world needs Christ.  But it will only have the opportunity to respond if believers live lives focused on eternity instead of the temporal.

The Chinese character for ‘crisis’ is made up of two other characters meaning ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity.’  The spiritual crisis in the world today does indeed have dangerous implications.  Untold millions live quietly desperate lives, looking for answers everywhere except to the One who can help.

But this time in history is also a prime opportunity.  Never in history have so many been so desperate for answers to life’s seemingly impossible problems.  Believers know the One who can solve life’s problems.  Will they seek to know Christ in an ever-deepening way?  Will they seek to make Him known on an every broadening horizon?

The highest good in the Christian life is not serving Christ full-time. God’s best for any individual is discovering His plan for your life and then doing it with your whole heart!  Some will be called to full-time ministry, but many will serve Him as lay men and women bringing His love into their respective spheres of influence.  Whether full-time or laity, we are to give our all to and for Christ.

Teddy Roosevelt said many years ago,  “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Will you decide to live for Christ?

Will you choose to live for the world to come?

Living a Committed Life #2

In Luke 14:25-35 Jesus reminds us of the conditions for discipleship.  Before we decide whether we will seek to meet these conditions for discipleship, Jesus encourages us to think things through carefully.  There will be a cost to following Him.  It may not be easy or comfortable.  If the cost seems too much, stop now.  Don’t even begin the journey.  This is serious business.  Billy Graham said, “Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you everything you have.”

Jesus concludes with a parable about salt.  The salt he mentions is not table salt, but a salty mixture of various minerals.  It was used for fertilizer in the fields or in the compost piles to hasten decomposition.  If this mineral mixture became wet, the valuable minerals were leached out with the water, leaving behind a gravel mixture of little use.  Jesus’ intent is to remind us that we are saved to be disciples while we have time on this earth.  If we don’t fulfill our intended purpose, we are not useful.

William Borden graduated from high school in 1904 and for a graduation gift, his father sent him on a trip around the world with a chaperone.  The elder Borden, founder of the Borden milk and dairy business, gave the young man a Bible to read as he traveled, hoping that it would inspire him as he prepared for college.  During his world trip, William heard the call of God to give up his promising business career and preach the gospel.  He wrote two words in the front of his Bible, “ No reserves!

William entered Yale University where he was greatly influenced by Samuel Zwemer to think about the Muslim world.  William sensed that God was calling him to work with the Muslims of China.  He told his family that he would not be returning to the family business after Yale, but instead would give his life to reaching Muslims for Christ.  He added two more words to the front of his Bible, “ No retreats!

After Yale and seminary, William arrived in Egypt to study Arabic in preparation for his ministry to Muslims.  Within a year after his arrival, he contracted cerebral meningitis and died shortly thereafter at the age of 26.  His mother went to Egypt to collect William’s personal affects, one of which was his Bible.  It was then that she noticed two additional words penned in the front, “ No regrets!

No reserves; No retreats; No regrets!  That is the commitment of a disciple of Jesus.

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 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.

Living a Disciplined Life #1

The disciple of Jesus will find that following Him requires a life of discipline and focus.  Discipline does not mean drudgery, but it does mean saying “no” to good things in order that we might give ourselves to the best.  It is the choice between the good, better, and best that requires a will of steel.  We must focus on the goal for which we are called and dedicate ourselves to reaching that goal.

E. Stanley Jones, the great missionary-statesman to India, said, “Your capacity to say ‘no’ determines your capacity to say ‘yes’ to greater things.”  St. Augustine prayed three things for himself, “A heart of flame towards God, a heart of love towards men, and a heart of steel towards myself.”

If we are to follow hard after Christ; if we are to be used by Christ, we must prepare ourselves.  This preparation and training can be rigorous and stressful.  No champion athlete wins without rigorous training, and no champion for Christ will make an impact without paying the price of preparation.  It will mean disciplining our desires and bringing our bodies under control.  It will mean long hours of time alone with God and His Word.  The disciplined life will say to self, “Others may, I cannot.”  It will sense a destiny that requires the best we have to give.

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.  “From that moment life was unified in one great purpose and prayer.  For Hudson Taylor was ‘not disobedient to the heavenly vision,’ and to him obedience to the will of God was a very practical matter.

“At once he began to prepare, as well as he could, for a life that would call for physical endurance.  He took more exercise in the open air, exchanged his feather bed for a hard mattress and was watchful not to be self-indulgent at table.  Instead of going to church twice on Sunday, he gave up the evening to visiting in the poorest parts of town, distributing tracts and holding cottage meetings.  In crowded lodging-house kitchens he became a welcome figure, and even on the race course his bright face and kindly words opened the way for many a straight message.  All this led to more Bible study and prayer, for he soon found that there is One and One alone who can make us ‘fishers of men.’ [i]

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

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