In the book “The Making of a Leader” Clinton discusses what it means to be a leader. He gives us the formula of what it takes to become a leader. Clinton does a wonderful job at revealing the process, and the cost of what it means to be a leader. He makes it very clear, throughout the book that effective ministry flows from who we are and not just what we do.
A major part of the book is on how God develops a leader over time. Many young leaders don’t understand that there is a process that one has to go through in order to lead others. That process does not happen overnight. In fact the process never stops. God is always processing us to serve Him and His church better. These times of processing can occur because of crises, illness, persecution or discipline, self-choice, or providential circumstances.1 These moments of process are times where God teaches us life and leadership lessons. We are not only shaped by our training but also by our experiences.
This book will help those who are trying to understand the stages of ministry. The Making of a Leader provides a map and the direction needed to reach our goals as a leader. Through the lives of many leaders that Clinton has studied, he provides insight into understanding and identifying the characteristics of an effective leader. This book challenges you to understand where you are as a leader. This book will help anyone who needs help to process what is happening as God works behind the scenes. It will help the leader who needs to learn how to anticipate the future, understand their past and respond to God’s direction in their lives. Clinton offers the reader clear practical lessons and ideas that any leader can put into practice regardless of where they are on the leadership ladder.
The Making of a Leader is a relevant discussion of what leadership is supposed to be and how we get there. As you read the text it will cause you to reflect on your own experiences and understanding of what leadership is. As a result the reader will feel challenged to make the necessary changes in his or her leadership. It has a high level of spiritual content. The book is geared towards ministry leaders. Anyone who desires to be a better leader would do well to read this book. Clinton makes it clear that leadership evolves and emerges over a lifetime.2
The book brought to memory an experience that occurred almost fifteen years ago last month. It was a church that I was asked to pastor. The church was established several years before. It was a growing church but a church with problems. The pastor of the church continued to have difficulties with the board and along with his sickness was unable to continue.
As I began to pastor this church I noticed that one of the members of the church had great influence over many of the board members and others within the church. This man had been in other churches and had caused great harm. He taught a Sunday school class that allowed him to have influence over people within the church.
Deep down inside this man wanted to be the pastor of the church. This could not have happened because he did not have the credentials nor the experience to pastor. Every church he had been a part of he made it very difficult for the pastor to lead the church in effective ministry. He was a good bible teacher but he did not have the character to support his teaching. His integrity was called into question on many occasions. His wife was known for being a gossiper and someone who could not keep something said to her in confidence.
This man had the talent to be a great leader but never went passed what Clinton calls Phase I. These Sovereign foundations that Clinton refers to never really developed in this man’s life. This man had cracks in his foundations. He never matured as a leader. Part of his problem was submitting to leadership. Clinton states that the authority problem concerns how a leader gets along with people: his leaders, his peers, and his subordinates.3 He had great relationships with people he could manipulate. His problem was submitting to those above him. And because of this lack of submission he never developed into the leader God wanted him to be. Reflection
One of the problems I have with the author is that he makes it seem as if the Phases and stages of leadership are always going to occur in the way he proposes. Though the Phases and stages of leadership ring true, he does not provide a biblical example of the Phases of leadership occurring in the life of a biblical character. Clinton would almost make it seem as if God deliberately systemizes a particular process in a leaders life.
All these Phases may at times happen at the same time. Every leader is different. At times the leader has to re-invent himself or better yet God re-invents the leader for a certain situation. Leadership is not a formula we follow but a life we live. The Sovereign foundations phase and Inner-Life Growth phase may occur all at the same time. True leaders never see themselves as leaving behind one phase for another. Inner-Life Growth phase never really ends. Leaders are constantly in need of praying and hearing from God. Obedience is always necessary no matter what stage or phase of life a leader is in.
The other problem I have with the book is that I did not agree with his assessment of The Authority Problem. Clinton says that, Leaders who have trouble submitting to authority will usually have trouble exercising spiritual authority. This may be true but in reality what I have observed from leaders who struggle with submitting to authority is not exercising authority, it is getting people to submit to them. What you sow you reap. When a leader does not submit to authority it is difficult for people under his leadership to submit to him or her. The problem lies in leaders demanding authority from a position and not from an example for people to follow. No leader can lead for very long if no one is willing to follow. As John Maxwell says, if you are a leader and no one is following you then you are just going for a walk.
One of the steps that I am going to take as a result of reading this book is to At attempt to write down my top ten ministry philosophy principles. Clinton says that a ministry philosophy is the result of leadership emergence-the ideas, values, and principles whether implicit or explicit that a leader uses as guidelines for decision making for exercising influence, or for evaluating ministry.4 Though I use the term a “ministry philosophy” often I have never attempted to put it down on paper. Within the next thirty days I will write down my top ten ministry philosophy principles. Most leaders adopt the philosophy of ministry they were taught and never really develop their own ministry philosophy. According to Clinton if a leader wants to be productive over a lifetime a leader must develop a ministry philosophy that simultaneously honors biblical leadership values, embraces the challenges of the times in which they live and fits their unique gifts and personal development.
The second action step I am going to take is to recognize God’s purposes in my experiences. At times it is difficult to recognize God’s purposes during the maturing process. There has to be an understanding in every leaders life that God is seeking to develop us first and foremost. Most leaders minister out of their gifting rather then their identity. When a leader ministers out of his identity it has more impact. What a leader communicates to his congregation when he ministers out of his identity is that there is depth, intimacy with the God of ministry. For the next thirty days I will focus on “becoming” rather than “doing.”
Clinton, J Robert. The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development Colorado Springs, CO: Navy Press, 2012.