The Making of a Leader

IMaking of a Leadern our study of Nehemiah we are using the most basic definition of leadership, which is influence.  We are looking at Nehemiah as a model of a man who prepared to lead when the opportunity arose.  How does God prepare a person for a leadership role?

Bobby Clinton has done excellent and helpful work with helping us to see how God prepares a leader.  Clinton, long time Professor of Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote a book entitled The Making of a Leader [1](which is the inspiration for the KHC weekend services sermon). If any leader wants to assess how God is at work in his or her life, we must become more attentive to God’s leading, and give attention to important developmental tasks along the way.  Clinton’s model grows out of his research of hundreds of leaders in the Bible and contemporary Christian leaders, like A.W. Tozer, Watchman Nee, and Dawson Trottman. He extracts from their lives five, or in some cases six, developmental phases that leaders undergo as their lives unfold. Leaders may not experience all five or six phases, and there may be overlap, but the overall concept of the stages holds. The generalized sequence of the stages is summarized in chapter two:

Sovereign foundations – God providentially works to lay the foundations of the leader’s life through family, environment, and historical events.

Inner-Life Growth – The leader comes to know God in a more intimate, personal way. He is tested. If he learns from these experiences what God wants to teach, it results in expanded ministry and greater responsibility. If he does not learn, he will usually be tested again in the same areas.

Ministry Maturing– The leader reaches out to others, experimenting with spiritual gifts, and may get training. He becomes a rising leader, learning lessons in his relationships with others or from the inadequacies of his personal life.

“In these first three phases, God’s work is primarily in the leader, not through him or her. Many emerging leaders do not recognize this, and become frustrated. They are constantly evaluating productivity and activities, while God is quietly evaluating their leadership potential. He wants to teach us that we minister out of what we are.” (pgs. 45-46)

Life Maturing – The leader identifies and uses his or her spiritual gifts in a satisfying ministry. Priorities are clearer for identifying the best use of gifts, what to do and not to do, resulting in mature fruitfulness. The leader’s character mellows and matures. Communion with God becomes more important than success in ministry, and the leader’s character mellows and matures. The key to development in this phase is a positive response to the experiences God ordains.

Convergence – God maximizes the leader’s ministry by moving him or her into a role that matches one’s gift-mix and experience and that is comparatively freed from less suited activities. Convergence may not come either for lack of personal development, or an organization keeps him or her in a limiting role, or providence hinders in a way difficult to understand without the full picture that only God sees. Reaching this phase requires trust in God’s guidance and watching as God moves one toward a ministry that embodies all the development of preceding phases. Convergence manifests itself as one responds consistently to God’s work in his life.

Afterglow or Celebration  – A lifetime of ministry and growth culminates in an era of recognition and indirect, broad influence. Leaders continue to exert influence in these relationships through a large network of contacts built over a lifetime. Their consistent track record in following God causes others to seek out their storehouse of wisdom.  (Sadly, for only a few make it to this stage — Billy Graham and J.I. Packer come to mind…)

Clinton says:

“As a leader, you should recognize that God is continually developing you over a lifetime. His top priority is to conform you to the image of Christ for ministry with spiritual authority. Enduring fruitfulness flows out of being. In addition to transforming your character, God will increase your capacity to influence through developing your spiritual gifts.” (p. 54)

[1] NavPress; Rev Updated edition, 2012.

The Making of a Leader

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