I read Robert Clinton’s The Making of a Leader. Here is what I see as his best contributions to the discussion of leadership in the church and beyond:
Good leaders recognizes that good can come from conflict.
God can use the conflict that we experience in order to shape us into his image and form us for leadership. Clinton notes, “The conflict process item refers to those instances in a leader’s life which God uses conflict, whether personal or ministry related, to develop the leader in dependence upon God, faith, and insights relating to personal ministry.” The sooner a leader flips the switch from anger or frustration in conflict to considering what God might be teaching the better. God can use even this conflict for his good and the advancement of his purposes.
Good leaders understand that leadership is a capacity that develops over a lifetime.
Similar to how a concert pianist spends a lifetime becoming the musician they are, leadership takes a lifetime to learn. And, a good leader, continues to receive lessons in leadership throughout their life. Clinton points out that God refines a leader’s character throughout his or her lifetime, which increases their leadership capacity along the way.
Good leaders discover and develop their gift-mix, or set of spiritual gifts.
Clinton sees that self-awareness regarding gift-mix is a huge factor for effective leadership. A good leader must recognize where his or her strengths and spiritual gifts lie and where he or she must rely on others in order to further the kingdom work of the Lord.
Good leaders are wise in how they select and raise up other leaders.
If a leader hopes to influence a group of people in a direction that the Lord leads, he or she will have to have help along the way. The critical selection of other leaders that will pursue a common vision is vital to the success of the vision.
Clinton argues that good leadership is often learned as a process, with sometimes difficult lessons in a leader’s life actually assisting in the development of leadership. God is able to use a variety of circumstances in order to help a leader collect a set of experiences, approaches, and responses that will enable wise leadership. Good leaders know that they can learn from those they lead and that teaching one another along the way will result in the best possibility of success in the mission or vision of the church or organization.