God and I have been working very hard on the aspect of leadership lately. I love how He designed leading others with the intention of serving. But also for the way servant leadership refines us.
I am feeling raw about it all, as I teared up multiple times in a meeting yesterday with people I love – who happen to be three fabulous leaders themselves. Leadership forces you to own up to shortcomings for the sake of the people you serve. Not always fun, but, if we let it, character building.
But, in my opinion, the best resource for leadership for those who seek to be under God’s authority and point people to Him is The Making of a Leader by J. Robert Clinton. Many people I respect have recommended his work to me over the years, and a couple years ago I took the leap.
I have since read different sections multiple times and the whole thing straight through once (I think). Clinton scours the lives of different spiritual leaders from the Bible, the past, and the present, and identifies the Biblical principles God used to grow them.
And the bottom line for spiritual leadership is: Ministry flows out of being.
God uses testing, conflict, crises, failure, relationships and spiritual warfare in a developing leader’s life to change the leader. In Clinton’s words:
“Quality leadership does not come easily. It requires time, experience, and repeated instances of maturity processing. Mature ministry flows from a mature character, formed in the graduate school of life. Ministry can be successful through giftedness alone; but a leader whose ministry skills outstrip his character formation will eventually falter. A mature, successful ministry flows from one who has both ministry skills and character that has been mellowed, developed, and ripened by God’s maturity processing. Character formation is fundamental.
Ministry flows out of being.” (pg 145)
One of the biggest areas of growth for a developing leader seems to be what Clinton calls The Authority Problem. Leaders often want to do just that: lead. But, more often than not, what God wants first from them is to follow. To learn how to submit to the authority in their lives, whether or not they agree with that authority. After all, anyone can submit when they are on board. It is a greater challenge to trust the Ultimate Authority’s heart behind the imperfect – but proper – human authority in the developing leader’s life when he or she disagrees with a decision.
But by trusting the sovereignty of God in their submission, developing leaders learn the beauty of His faithfulness to them.
We are a generation that, overall, doesn’t seem too interested in the chain of authority or submission or setting aside our rights. But it appears to be one of God’s main ways of learning to trust Him, knowing how to use spiritual authority for the sake of others, and developing our character.
Ministry flows out of being.
Ever read this book? Or learned important lessons about authority and character in your life?