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This study aims to make an in- depth analysis of Robert Clinton’s book The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development. The book narrows down the subject of leadership to the stages of developing leaders and the lessons that one can draw from each of the involved steps. The document is an excellent piece for young Christian leaders who seek to grow in faith since it bases most of its teachings on religious perspectives concerning the values leaders should demonstrate. The book consists of contributions in the form of quotations from other Christian leaders.
The goal is to increase the understanding of what constitutes a leader. Mary Thomas and Pastor Jeffrey McDonald are some of the people whose ideologies of an organizational leader and a mature model of leading have been incorporated into this study. Clinton sees a leader as someone who has been called by God and then molded through various phases.1The phase one to five of leadership development entails challenges that leaders encounter. The phases include sovereign foundations, inner-life growth, ministry maturing, life maturing, and finally the convergence stage.2
According to Clinton, the inner-growth process is considered a testing stage where integrity, obedience, and the ability to receive the word of God are checked in a leader.3 Integrity is the most fundamental qualification of evaluating a leader because it touches on his or her morality. Hence, it brings out the sincere and honest nature of a leader. According to Clinton, leaders are believed to be influential people and that God instills within them the capacity to enable them persuade and change the lives of the people they serve.4
As leaders mature in the ministry, God enhances their skills and grows them in a way that they feel motivated as they exercise their leadership roles. The book considers the struggle that developing leaders encounter with people in authority. The discovery of a spiritual gift that upcoming leaders might possess is quite significant in their growth as ministers. The effectiveness of a leader’s mission can be enhanced more when he or she incorporates his or her gifts into the work of God. Leaders are bound to experience challenges mostly in the form of conflicts. Clinton advises that the challenges test the level of maturity of a leader to handle situations.5 Leaders are called upon to submit to God in a deeper way during such challenges
Clinton’s book reminds me of an experience I had when growing up as a young Christian in an environment where people did not believe in adopting Christian values. The leaders I knew at the moment were mostly chosen based on the wealth they had or the reputation of their respective families. Most of their decisions were based on their personal notions.
Christianity did not influence their actions. As a young Christian, I needed guidance on how to grow in the right path as a Christian leader. However, I lacked direction. The only Christian leaders I knew were holding their positions for personal gains. None of them could be depended on for molding other people’s characters. As an emerging leader, my parents had always advised me that the knowledge of Christ was (and remains) the beginning of good judgment. Wisdom is a very significant thing for any leader to possess to make the right decisions.
Wisdom is learned from elders and leaders. However, the few leaders whom I could access did not possess much wisdom. I found it very difficult to grow as a leader in such an environment where no one could nurture my gifts and talents to a competent leader. As an upcoming leader, I had to submit to authority. However, the authority at the time was not acting in a worth emulating manner. Learning submission in such a setting was quite challenging. I encountered many conflicts with the leaders at the time. Through such conflicts, I learned to handle situations and mature as a leader whom other people have always admired.
One thing that bothers me about Robert Clintons’ book is that he presented the work mostly from a Christian perspective of what leadership should be.6 Many other religions such as Muslims and the Jews also have principles that they believe a leader must possess. If the author had considered ideologies from leaders in other religions, the book would have been more complete with perspectives from all religious leaders. Robert Clinton based leadership on religious values and gifts.
However, he totally forgot to touch on practical skills that modern leaders need in their work. Clinton tells emerging leaders to submit to authority. He considers submission a significant value that is to be learned. In my point of view, submission kills the creativity and innovation of better methods. By submitting, the status-quo is maintained. Hence, a leader cannot grow in such an environment. The book considers the conflict-solving ability an issue that tests the maturity of a leader.7
However, the book fails to provide some problem-solving skills to the emerging leaders. Skills are quite necessary in a problem-solving situation. Clinton should have explained how emerging leaders can develop tactical skills that will enable them to solve situations. In general, the book is a good piece to all upcoming leaders, although it targeted only the charismatic aspect of a leader. It sees a leader as a person who has special qualities and favors from God. However, the practical nature of a leader as someone who is elected or chosen because of the skills and expertise he possesses has been entirely ignored. As much as a leader needs guidance from God, he also needs some tangible skills to lead people.
Based on the expositions from the book, I have seen that it is important to find a mentor who can guide me as I grow as a young leader. I will look for an experienced person to instill some Christian teachings and values in me so that I can be enlightened more on Christian principles that a leader should demonstrate. Issues such as the respect of spiritual authority and submission to the word of God have been explained as significant to young leaders.
I am moved to learn how to hold authority in high esteem. I will be using my spiritual gifts in my roles as a leader to enhance my mission. I will adopt the values of integrity, obedience, and the use of the word of God more as a leader. As a person in charge, my main agenda will involve being focused more on biblical values in the way I deliver services.
Whenever I face a conflict or a major challenge in my work as a leader, I would seek more spiritual answers and use such opportunities to deepen my relationship with God. To influence change, I will exercise more faith in my abilities and continually work under God’s guidance so that my vision may come to pass. I have clearly understood that at the heart of leading is the constant communication between God and a leader. Therefore, I will put more prayers into my work so that God can guide the purpose of my group to know how to lead it to the desired destination.
Clinton, Robert. The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2012.
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- Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2012), 2.
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