Reflecting further on leadership guidance and ministry maturing the past few days, three critical points in Robert Clinton's concluding chapters in "The Making of a Leader" stuck out.
In discussing multi-phase ministry processes, Clinton provides insight to what he calls negative preparation, a process item that involves God's use of conflict and hardship. The purpose of negative preparation is to break and humble a leader in a way that launches him/her into greater freedom. As negative preparation is experienced, God can use the time to develop perseverance and integrity in either an emerging or seasoned leader.Clinton admits that despite its necessity, this particular component of guidance processing is not meant to be viewed as an easy escape for those who often place themselves in difficult situations. Instead, the emphasis should be focused on release and "new season" preparation.
Negative preparation essentially leads to brokenness - a pathway to greater submissiveness. In His ministry, Jesus flawlessly modeled the kind of persevering humility that results from righteously navigating negative preparation. Clinton states negative preparation process items can include relationship difficulty, a crisis in job or ministry, illness, isolation, and similar life maturing processes he goes on to describe in chapter seven.
After analyzing a few of such maturing processes (i.e. life crises, conflict, isolation, etc.), Clinton summaries a few key points on quality, effective leadership, one being how spiritual authority should not be perceived as a goal but rather a byproduct. If authority is God-delegated, then how can man expect to obtain (on solely man's abilities)opportunities and positions of spiritual leadership? The better perspective reveals that God gives assignments to leaders who have learned to rely entirely on God, realizing supreme authority and power belongs to Him, and that spiritual leadership is primarily about extending God's authority, NOT exclusively the leader's authority. As Clinton points out, a leader does not seek spiritual authority, but rather seeks to know God, thus enhancing a two-way, vertical, love relationship. A heart to understand and share intimacy with God is the key. Authority comes on the road to discovering who God is; it is not a final destination.
In closing, Clinton reminds the reader how a leader should cultivate and develop a ministry philosophy in line with his ministry mission statement. We cannot simply mirror another's philosophy but must arise out of the leader's leadership development, molded by God during trials and constructive opportunities. A ministry philosophy should revolve around what Clinton defines as the central task of leadership: "influencing God's people towards God's purpose" (203). And not just surrounding the principle as to integrating the philosophy into the leader's ministry at large.
In addition, a solid ministry philosophy should have methods grounded in the right principles. Clinton's idea of labeling principles in short phrases proceeded by listing out a simple statement of that principle is an excellent approach to crafting a strong, foundational ministry philosophy.
To be continued...