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on January 17, 2001
This book is purportedly about leadership but there is a strong underlying concern with epistemology. How do we know that we know? This entire work appears to have its roots in a very personal and traumatic event in Clinton's own experience in leadership. Clinton categorizes that experience as a maturity process item with sub-categories of conflict and isolation process items. In normal terminology he was dumped from a leadership position because he was tactless, inflexible, and not submissive to the authority of the group. The group had made a previous decision that was clearly (at least to Clinton) in the will of God. Later that decision was reversed. That reversal set up not only a leadership crisis for Clinton but an epistemological crisis as well. Clinton states: "If we vacillated on this, then I didn't see how we could be certain on any future decision." His answer to that concern is this book. The shape of the answer is formed by his foundationalist philosophical viewpoint and also by the systematic thought processes of this former electrical engineer and current academician.
Clinton's research is on leadership emergence patterns. He begins with a view of Providence that assumes a particular and exhaustive view of God's sovereignty. All experiences from birth, both good and bad, are woven by God into the fabric of the future leader's character. Through the time line analysis of hundreds of leader's lives Clinton purports that he has been able to identify, label, and define a series of processes that are transferable to other leader's lives. Universal experiences in leadership development provide for the epistemological certainty of Clinton's foundationalism. He does appeal to the biblical narrative for support of his theory of leadership development, but the substance of his thesis rests on his synthesis of the lives of spiritual leaders.
Clinton has created an extensive jargon to give definition to what may have been fuzzier intuitions among many of God's people. Giftedness drift is a fine term for expressing the intuitive tendency of saints to respond to needs that fit their particular spiritual gifts. Double confirmation is a term that suits well the significant impact of receiving independent yet concordant directives in life. What Clinton does is then order these various process items into a system for attaining epistemological certainty. The result in my estimation is rational mysticism. While that is an oxymoron the issue for Clinton knowing the will of God with certainty. His foundationalism drives him toward rationalism. But basing his foundation on universal experience eventually takes him to mysticism. This is well illustrated in his own crisis which I first mentioned above. They had prayed about their original decision, agreed about it, and it felt good. The epistemological process items were all lined up; therefore, they knew the mind of God. Perhaps they did. So how could they possible come to a different conclusion later? One answer that Clinton does not seem to consider is that perhaps God changed His mind. If we take the Bible narrative seriously we do see God changing direction in the course of human history. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever; but that does not mean that God is static. But more to the issue, Clinton's process items simply do not confer the epistemological certainty that he is searching for. I would suggest that the best tools that we have to discern God's will are the Bible, the Christian community, and conscience working together. Prayer is to the end that the Spirit would help us to understand the word of God, invigorate the Church, and sensitize the conscience. We do the best we can with God's help.
There is another shortfall in this book. Just as Clinton has taken a general description of Christian growth and limited it to a theory of leadership development, so too he limits his concept of leadership in the church. He essentially equates leadership with ministry in the sense of the clergy or missions. Therefore when Clinton was stripped of his formal leadership position for a year, it was equivalent to being set aside from ministry. It is a sad concept to equate power with the ability to serve the church. There are many leaders in the church without formal power engaged in dynamic ministry. The biblical doctrine of the image of God in man teaches us that dominion is one of the defining expressions of that image. As such any concept of Christian leadership must be broadly applicable to all of the members of the church. Using the analogy of the body: the brain does have some things to tell the kidney, but for the most part the brain is dependent upon the kidney's exercise of leadership with respect to its own particular giftedness.
In summary, Clinton's work fails in its effort to establish a foundational epistemology for leadership. Furthermore his concept of leadership is too limited to be applied to the body as a whole. While he does provide us with some useful vocabulary much of his glossary is jargon and is not useful for general communication. Clinton does, however, provide some observations based upon his extensive study of Christian leaders which are worth noting. They are summarized in the appendix.
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on January 13, 2004
I teach leadership and leadership development both in the States and internationally and I can tell there is no better book on the subject. There are other books available, and they all are easier reads than this one but this is or will be the classic on the subject.
The book goes much further than explaining leadership it shows how every incident in your life went to form and fashion who you are. Take your time with this book and definitely do the chart work and you will recieve the peace of not only knowing who you are but that your past was all valuable and your future can be better understood.
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on November 4, 2006
The inception of the book, The Making of Leader, from a letter to the intern seminarian unfolds a series of discussions on the leadership as the patterns God has used to develop various leaders. There sre lessons in new perspective on ministry, rekindling of a sense of destiny, flexibility in openness to new ideas and change, broadening through exposure to others, inner convictions from the Word, and guidance. It shows God's desire to teach those who confront with the problems of isolation between self-choice and provisional circumstances. Leadership thus occurs from ministry internship formally or informally. It is neither confined to position, title, and training, nor limited by experience; rather, it is as real occurrences as in the life of Watchman Nee, an outstanding Chinese Christian leader who found indigenous churches that were brutally persecuted during a transition period in China..

God prepares leader in two ways: first, through ministry, the leader can identify his/her gifts and skills, then, use them sufficiently and effetely; second, he/she will gain a better understanding of the Body of Christ through many historical, biblical, and contemporary leaders' experiences and their relationships with God and with people.

Clinton gives us a big picture with Bird's eye view to look over, and to define the patterns, processes, and principles as a holistic prospect for leadership development, so that the leader can reflect on divine activity in his/her life to enhance faith and confidence that all leaders in Christian works must have.

As for the leader's inner life growth, God uses three tests, integrate check, obedience check, and word check to characterize the nature of leader that will be the criteria for his/her personal growth and for ministry expectation. The processes of ministry maturing, God direct a potential leader into four stages. In the entry stage, God challenges a potential leader into ministry. In the training stage, He develops skills and spiritual gifts to improve the leader's effectiveness. Then, in the relational learning stage, God enable the leader to relate to people in ways that will motivate and influence and teach him/her to set up the means to accomplish the goal. Finally, in the discernment stage, God helps the leader see spiritual principles that govern ministry that is pleasing to Him.

There are some guidance processing for the leader's ongoing lessons; two of them are particularly important: first, experience God's direction for the personal life and the ministry situations in which the leader is placed; second, God confirms significant truth upon which the leader acts from more than one source in order to give credibility to leadership.

The in-depth maturity of leader's life represents his/her leading quality that requires time experiences and progressive maturity. All the lessons the leader has learned will become part of his/her ministry philosophy that is the result of leadership development, the ideas, values, and principles. Implicitly or explicitly, the leader uses tem as guidance for decision-making and exercising influence, or for evaluating ministry. The development of effective leadership is a lifelong study, leaders would be always expected to rise to the challenge that each of them must be the person God wants him/her to be, must be involved in raising up other leasers, and must be in tune with God's purpose for them.
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on April 17, 1999
Dr. Clinton applies an analytical, engineering mind to historical and spiritual truths. He puts struggles, trials as well as victories and advancements into a very organized perspective. This is not light reading, as he forewarns people at the beginning. The terminology alone warrants the keeping of a finger in the glossary at all times. If you are a leader or know and support one, the book will be solid encouragement and a source of peace during all that you go through on the way to glory. It both challenges and heals. God's hand and purpose are seen at each juncture and circumstance. I'm buying other copies to give to other leader friends because of its wisdom and long-term effect. A wonderful reference by a very thoughtful and blessed person.
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on July 3, 2003
I met Bobby Clinton during a difficult time of transition. Over a cup of coffee, after asking a few questions, he was able to perfectly describe what was going on in my life and outline a practical plan to make the experience most profitable. It was if he had been reading my mail for the past two years.
When I told him how amazed I was at his ability he outlined for me the research that gave birth to this book. He and his students at Fuller Theological Seminary had studied the lives of over 400 leaders. The patterns of emergence they discovered are the basis of this book.
The book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the topic of leadership and leadership development.
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on November 22, 2002
So far, this is my absolute favorite book on the subject of leadership development. After 16 years of teaching and applying leadership development principles, this seems to me the definitive work on how the process works. Reading it was tantamount to stepping back from a connect-the-dots picture and clearly seeing what the picture is going to be--it finally makes sense. I believe Clinton did a great job of communicating how every part of our lives ties together to fulfill God's divine destiny for us(Acts 13:36). This is a must read for every one who aspires to maximize their leadership potential.
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on November 19, 1998
Five stars? Yup... because a study of this text may revolutionize your view of leadership and what it means to be led. It did for me.
This book focuses on Christian leadership, outlining the lives of known leaders and how God developed them to do what He needed them to do.
It provides an honest, challenging and humbling understanding the responsibilities of being a leader, and how to develop a sucessor. This is for serious students of God who do not depend on 'rah-rah' leadership, but deep, life-long goals. Similarly, this isn't a PK-style look at leadership, though it comes from an evangelical understanding of God. However, PK fans might see this as a bigger, next step in a long journey.
The focus is about serving Christ, about being lead by Him, and in turn, in obedience, leading others to serve Him.
I read it in the context of a Wheaton College masters-level missions course.
The writer is a professor at Fuller Theo. Sem.
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on September 28, 2011
The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development

As part of my taking Dr. Terry Walling's Leadership Breakthrough Certification Training in La Jolla California, I purchased through Amazon the book 'The Making of A Leader by Dr Robert Clinton. Dr. Clinton, a recently retired Fuller Theological Seminary Professor, who has studied over 3,000 leaders, is the mentor for Dr Terry Walling. He has discovered that only 30% of leaders finish well. Dr. Clinton's book is rather dense to read, but is full of many insights that are well researched.

Ed Hird+

p.s. I commend as well Dr Terry Walling's book 'Stuck!', a popularized form of Dr Clinton's insights.
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on December 18, 1998
Tired of same ol' tired lines on leadership? This book can easily become a favorite reference for leaders. Especially those leaders who are investing their time in mentoring others. It is directed to people in ministry, but the principles are truly universal. Dr. Clinton goes beyond "6 easy steps to leading" and offers a profound basis for <investing in people>, not just filling positions. I enjoy reading it over and over...fresh insights each time. The charts and timelines, graphs and personal illustrations make it readable and not stuffy. This book is meant to be read...not just owned! Enjoy the feast! :)
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on December 20, 2001
This book is a must read for anyone who is involved with team building and developing leaders. I work in the field of Leadership Development and this is one of the key texts we continually refer back to on a regular basis. Clinton is an expert in this field and this book provides a guide for basic leadership development stages and how to do leadership development. Thanks to Clinton for an important work that every leader needs to read.
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