Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “waiting on God”

Finding Favor with God

    Blessed is the man who listens to me,
watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.

    For whoever finds me finds life
and receives favor from the LORD.

    But whoever fails to find me harms himself;
all who hate me love death.”

Proverbs 8:34-36  (NIV 84)

The context of the passage above is the pursuit of wisdom.  The author puts the pursuit of wisdom in the context of leadership in Proverbs 8:15-16.  It’s an easy argument to convince any Kingdom leader that they need wisdom from above.  The world would also agree on the need for leaders to have wisdom, but their source is through gaining more experience.  Kingdom leaders look to the Lord Himself to give them wisdom beyond their years and experience.

Note that verse 34 creates a sense of pursuit and anticipation as the leader waits upon the Lord.  This person is ‘waiting’ and ‘watching’ daily for the Lord to speak.  Their heart and mind is attuned to the Lord’s voice, knowing that He is the source of the wisdom they so need.

The result of this pursuit of wisdom of course, is that they find it (vs. 35).  Note that it is promised that we will receive wisdom if we ask for (pursue) it (James 1:5).

With leadership wisdom comes life and favor from God.  By ‘life’ we mean two things.  First, for the leader him/herself, it means that we thrive in our leadership, instead of just survive in this demanding responsibility.  Second, for our leadership, it means that those we lead prosper and are blessed by our leadership.

By ‘favor from the Lord’ we mean that we fulfill God’s purposes for us both personally and His desired outcomes for our leadership.  What leader does not want these two aspects as the legacy for their personal leadership?

Verse 36 is the countering reminder that those who do not pursue wisdom are foolish.  They suffer in their leadership and the outcome is death.  How tragic!

How’s your pursuit of wisdom?  Remember, the true source is the Lord Himself.  Spend daily time with Him and you will find life and favor from Him.

Visions, Dreams, and Devotions

While reading through the New Testament recently during my daily devotions I was struck by the number of visions that the Apostle Paul received in his lifetime.    Note the following….

Conversion on road to Damascus  –  Acts 9:1-7

Calling to Macedonia (Europe)  –  Acts 16:6-10

Personal security and courage in Corinth  –  Acts 18:9-11

Guidance to leave Jerusalem  –  Acts 22:12-21

Personal security and courage before Sanhedrin –  Acts 23:11

Personal security and courage on board ship  –  Acts 27:23-26

Revelation of the Gospel  –  Galatians 1:11-12

Revelation of the Body of Christ  –  Ephesians 3:1-6

Vision of Heaven  –  2 Corinthians 12:1-4

It is quite the list, is it not?  Can you see the intimacy between Paul and the Lord Jesus that is illustrated in these?  What a connection!

Now you might be saying to yourself, “Bummer, I’ve never had such an experience.”  “Why was Paul so fortunate and not me?”  And yet, you have the Holy Spirit – God Himself – living within you and you have His Word – the Bible – through which you and He can communicate every moment of every day.  Why do you long for what you don’t have and neglect what you do have?

We can sometimes long for the ‘spectacular’ and take for granted or even disdain the commonplace, not realizing how very special and privileged we truly are.

Should God choose to speak to you through a vision or dream, “good on ya'” as our Aussie friends say.  Or should He choose to speak to you through a passage from His living Word, “be blessed.”  Both are legitimate means of communication for Him, with one being more common (frequently used) – the Bible, yet not to be dismissed in longing for something more unusual.

In fact, Peter, when recalling the spectacular vision of seeing Christ physically transformed into His glory, put it into perspective.  “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”  (2 Peter 1:16-19)

Enter into you daily devotions with an expectation of meeting with the Living God, your Lord and Creator.  Don’t overlook the usual and miss the great blessing of the pursuit of Him through the Scriptures.

God’s Use of Isolation

DAVID – GOD’S USE OF ISOLATION
1 Samuel 20-31

Isolation: when God sets a leader aside from their destiny process to develop deeper, heart issues dealing with their inner spirit; our “doing” for God ceases and we are forced to focus on our “being” with God.

“God develops our character in community and tests it in isolation.”
Bill Thrall

God develops our spirit in isolation and tests it in community.

Spirit: relating to and loving God, rather than doing something for God; knowledge and understanding of God, confidence in God, surrender to God

During isolation periods, God develops a leader into a channel for His power to be displayed. We learn to boast in weakness for we know God will work through our weakness for His glory.

2 Cor. 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Examples of Isolation:

Jesus – 40 days in the wilderness Luke 4:1-14

Luke 4:1,14
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert…. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.

Moses – 40 years in desert tending sheep Acts 7:23,30

Paul – time in Arabia after conversion; years in Tarsus Gal. 1:17, 2:1

David – running from Saul in the desert ( +10 years ) 1 Sam.20-31

Leaders can anticipate times of isolation when God sets them aside from the activities of leadership in order to develop them in deeper ways.  Don’t be surprised by this, in fact, know that God is using this to develop you as a better leader.  Lean into it and don’t rush back to the action.  Let God have His way and His timing in your development.

A Shelter Day in the Ministry – Part 2

The following is from my “archives” and a great reminder of a timeless truth for leaders.

Taking It from the Top
Moody Monthly – January 1992    Dr. Wayne Hopkins

The ministry is work. Hard work! Any servant of God worth his salt, motivated by a sense of righteousness and eternity, painfully feels there is more to do than what he can accomplish. Hurting people in his ministry need him-because of marital problems, wayward children, and conflicts with relatives, neighbors, and folks at work and church.

Hence, time always seems in short supply for the urgent crises of counseling witnessing, preaching, Bible studies, and helping others. The staggering amount of abuse, adultery, bankruptcy, divorce, drunkenness, eating disorders, gambling, idolatry, and store housing drives the caring shepherd.

Not uncommonly the servant tastes the fatigue and desperate panic of an athlete in the Triathlon who discovers during the race additional miles and events are being added, pushing the finish line further away into the twilight.

The genius of a Shelter Day (S-Day)–where activity hatches are shut and bolted down, no matter how spiritual or alarming–is that it serves as a submerged day for rest and recharging. In addition to it being a study time, the S-Day is to be distinguished by stillness (Ps 46:10). It is not enough merely to stay home one day a week in seclusion; one cannot hopscotch around the house to the phone, computer, TV and refrigerator (Ex 14:10-18). Stillness requires staying fixed and focused mentally, and it excludes leapfrogging on ministry projects behind closed doors (Ps 37:7).

God’s “thoughts and ways” which are as high and different from mine as the heavens are above the earth (Isa 55:8,9), are not grasped by me in the midst of a cyclone, convulsions. or even a dull circus. The profound joy and peace–promised to me from another world (Isa 55:12)–as a result of entering God’s intimacy are not merely millennial blessings, tucked away for me for the future, in the meantime leaving me to grunt, gnash, and gnaw on my own (Isa 28:12,13). God orders me to abandon now my “evil thoughts and ways” (Isa 55:7-13) and ponder His thoughts and ways.

Before the S-Day can produce “strength and a rescue” for me, it must be furrowed with “rest and quietness” (Isa 30:15). A modern “can-do” American, especially the guilt-driven Kingdom worker, finds it virtually impossible to turn off the power drive and park for 24 hours.

Both a physical and mental idle is mandatory, if I am going to benefit reflectively from God’s presence with me (Ps 116:7; Zech 2:13). A throttled-down, unflapped composure by me is that steady state needed to refuel in mid-flight. True poise, which allows insight and refreshment from the sphere above, gushes to a calm, unruffled soul below, content to wait for Him no matter how long it takes (Hab 2:20; Zeph 1:7).

David’s other-world contemplations and psalms flushed earthward while he sat or lay motionless and hushed (Ps 4:4; 16:78; 42:1-43:5). Songs bubbled up and over, springing from deep wells within, only in a long lull which followed a storm. Job, likewise, made absolutely no progress in penetrating the mystery of his afflictions until he and his friends stopped their flap and fury allowing God to interrupt with facts (Job 40:3-5; 42:1-6).

Like rain and snow cycling from heaven to earth then back, according to Isaiah 55:10, 11, the Word of the Lord spreads throughout the land to accomplish that which He intends. The soil, nourished like my soul, then yields its “seeds for the sower and bread for the hungry.” Patiently and majestically nature waits–as anyone knows who has stood in the middle of a meadow or deep in the woods–for the moisture of the rain and snow. Comparable, the nurture of wisdom and grace, derived from perceiving God’s thoughts and ways, arrives fruitfully in season to those who wait (1 Sam 12:16). Heaven never makes the fields and valleys fertile because they “spin or toil” (Mt 6:19-34; cf. 4:4). They must wait.

For my soul to be restored, God leads me by the still waters (Ps 23:2). For me to drink, I must cease my bank-side romp and ruckus and lie in green pastures. For I process truth about God only in a balmy, soft, and soothing setting, not in a brouhaha, by a boombox, or amid baubles. In praise, singing and celebrations, with bands and voices, I communicate with God. In the still and quiet, God communicates with me…

Do you have your scheduled Shelter Day – a day of reflection, meditation on God and His Word, and study?  It need not be weekly, but it does need to be regular.  Is it on your calendar?

A Shelter Day in the Ministry – Part 1

The following is from my “archives” and a great reminder of a timeless truth for leaders.

Taking It from the Top
Moody Monthly – December 1991    Dr. Wayne Hopkins

I guess every warrior wrestles occasionally in his sleep. I certainly do! David did at times  (Ps 6:6, 42:3 77:2).

The Bible suggests that sleep and dreams in the night, or the lack thereof, gauge how well I do in the day (Ecc 5:3, Is 29:7-8). Indeed, God desires me to have sweet dreams (Ps 4:8).

As the Searcher of all hearts and the Knower of all thoughts (2 Ch 32:31), however, He may grind on me at night in my sleep (Ps 17:3; Heb 4:12-13). He may prod me to cooperate; to do some soul-searching myself on a sleepless night, instead of turning to Sominex or a nightcap (Ps 4:4; 63:6).

Perhaps He seeks to fuss about something ajar or amok in my life (Job 33:14-18). God cradles some, others He clobbers or torments during the night (Isa 50:11). Sleep disorders for some, due to their lifestyle, are such that money, no matter what the amount, cannot buy them sleep (Ecc 5:12). Nightmares, sleepwalking, early arousals, or the like, may serve as a divine alarm, which produces a warning about a spiritual or emotional problem. The problem left unchecked could blaze into a multiple alarm, i.e., physical sickness (Ps 38-3-18). Merely turning off the buzzer is not the object; determining the cause and putting out the fire is.

It seems that God may resort to the night shift with me when He cannot get through on the day shift (Ps 25:8-9). Perhaps in the daytime I am too baffy, bawdy, or busy, but I must collapse or crash somewhere, someplace. Then, there He is (Ps 107:4-32; 139:1-12).

God’s preferred plan, I believe, is that I need one day each week for Him to punch me down, purge me out, patch me up, and mold me back, after six days of duking, drubbing and drifting (Ps 64:4). Fundamentally my soul craves solitude with Him for recuperation (Ps 55:4-8; 84:1-2). Now, a full day of retreat will not replace nor diminish time spent with God each day in prayer, meditation, and study. The Shelter Day is an addition. David, certainly an enterprising administrator, like Daniel, prayed three times a day (Ps 55:17).

But I need at least one major in-take period…; a time of seclusion (Mk 1:35; Heb 4:9); a time for replenishing me deepest wells. Hence, the S Day must be a quiet, study day.

The S Day is not the time for direct sermon or lesson preparation per se’, for that is work, draining the well. On the S Day the well is allowed to recharge. Later, when the well is brimful, sermon construction is quicker. Without the S Day, the well has little time to recover before the bucket bangs the bottom again, scooping up mud and mush…

…The S Day, to reload the heart and soul with premium gusto should be Word centered (Ps 119:92; Mt 4:4; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17), in a cloistered haven. Here I suggest a simple, meditative reading first, then rereading the biblical text (Deut 17:18-20: Ezra 7:10). It is not unthinkable that, in this manner, the entire Bible could be read a half-dozen times each year.

Second, endeavor to outline. Outlining forces critical thinking as one seeks for the theme, message, and logical development of a paragraph, chapter, or book…

Third, study inductively. Original outlining requires it, of course. Collecting references and thoughts, too, (perhaps on 3×5 cards) on relevant topic helps. These topic headings are personal, arising out of one’s life, ministry, and interests…

…compile a growth log. Here one keeps notes and dates on fresh insights. This is not a diary or journal, but a record of added wisdom, jotted down not only on the S day, but as thoughts surface on any day.

Perhaps these S Day study-tips will allow one’s pool to be restocked and flooded with fresh, cool, and living waters from Jesus Christ Himself (Ps 19:7-11; 25:4-5)…

Hence, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in a sheltered place” (Ps 4:8).

Do you have your scheduled Shelter Day – a day of reflection, meditation on God and His Word, and study?  It need not be weekly, but it does need to be regular.  Is it on your calendar?

Instant is Too Slow

Genesis 6:5 – 7:6

We have ten minute oil changes, four minute microwave popcorn, three minute ATM transactions, and one minute news breaks.  Fast food has to be ready when we place our order or we begin to get impatient.  Any line longer than two people is intolerable.  Customer service representatives often hear the complaint, “I want it yesterday!”  Instant is too slow!

What a contrast God’s timetable is to ours.  From the time Noah was given the promise about the flood until the rain began to fall he had to wait a long time (perhaps as much as one-hundred and twenty years–compare Genesis 5:32, 6:3 and 7:6).  From the time the rain started until his family left the ark Noah waited another year inside the closed ark (compare Genesis 7:11 and 8:14).  Abraham waited 25 years for his promised son to be born.  The Israelites waited seven days for the walls of Jericho to fall.  We all have been waiting 2000+ years for the second coming of Christ.

Our problem is patience—or the lack thereof.  We don’t want to wait for anything.  We pray and if the answer isn’t on our doorstep within a day or two we give up.   But God works on a different timetable. “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

As Noah waited those many years for the first raindrop to fall, no doubt he was subject to times of doubt.  But he remained obedient to all God had told him (Genesis 7:5).  For God had promised and he took him at his word.  It was not a matter of if, but when.

What answers to prayer are you currently waiting for?  Does God seem to take intolerably long to answer?  Wait on God.  Don’t give up.  God will answer in his perfect timing.  “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10:36).

A Deeper Look

Psalm 37:7; Luke 18:1; Romans 8:25

A Time for Everything!

By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

Then God said to Noah,  “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you…      Genesis 8:13-17

Noah and family had been on a cramped, damp, and no doubt, smell-filled ark for a year.  He removed the roof of the ark and peering over the edge of the boat he sees dry ground!    “Hallelujah!  It’s time to get off of this boat and put our sandals on that dry turf,” he must have thought or even exclaimed along with his family members.  But the time was yet to be for the departure from their lifeboat.  How frustrating!

A careful reading of the text shows that Noah saw the dry ground on the first day of the first month, but it was not until the 27th day of the second month that God instructed them to disembark.  57 more days of waiting and watching–looking over the deck railing to see dry ground as far as they could see–waiting upon God for His release from their delivery ship.  I wonder what went through Noah’s mind as he waited for God’s time to exit the ark?

Leaders are doers.  We are all about getting things done-and getting them done NOW.  We often can have difficulty when God says to wait.  Wait for what?  It’s dry ground out there!  Let’s get on with this!  If not careful, we can miss a great opportunity to stop, reflect, and wait for the voice of God to speak.  We can miss God’s perfect timing.

Time is easily spent, never to be recovered.  Time is easily wasted, never to be redeemed.  Time is always in short supply for leaders!  “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven,” the writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us.  “Yeah, right!  He didn’t have my schedule,” we think.  We leaders are often like the proverbial dog straining at the end of God’s leash, wanting to get on with the job at hand, looking ahead to our new challenges.  Somehow I don’t see Noah anxiously marching up and down the deck of his ark, sighing deeply at his seeming lack of forward movement.

We are all busy people, especially leaders.  But busyness is not our enemy.  Busyness is a morally neutral state.  Being busy is not good, or bad, or purple.  It just means that we have a lot to accomplish each and every day.  In fact, if you don’t want a busy life, don’t lead!  But our busy lives can become a snare for us.  We can allow our full days to lull us into complacency with those things that are incredibly important, but do not have demanding deadlines.

How many Kingdom leaders are coasting upon past bible studies, memory verses, or messages preached long ago because they have let their busy lives crowd out personal time with God?  How many families are neglected because we are unwilling to say ‘no’ to enticing invitations?  God continues to speak, but our iPod volume drowns out His still, small voice.  We don’t recognize the voice of God because we don’t stop long enough to listen.

Elijah, a leader extraordinaire, learned to pay attention to God’s voice, The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”  Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper …” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

As Kingdom leaders we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry (not busyness) from our lives in order to sit at the feet of Jesus and wait for Him to speak.  He is not in the fierce wind, the great earthquake, or the raging fire (all of our pressing crises or demanding problems).  He waits for us to stop, look, and listen.  He then gently whispers into our heart His plans for us and our leadership, expecting us to take note and be quick to obey.

So is your leadership walk like one of Noah, patiently waiting for God’s timing to speak–waiting expectantly on Him to guide and direct your path?  Or are you more like the dog straining at the end of the leash, pulling hard against a loving Master?  May you turn down the volume of your hurried life to be able to hear His voice!  And may you have a heart that is quick to obey!

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