Dr. J. Robert Clinton was a primary conversation partner and teacher of Randy Reese as he set out to do something that would help pastors and lay leaders pay attention and develop their people, the effort that would lead to the founding of VantagePoint3. Bobby Clinton has been one of our key teachers along the way. And we are profoundly indebted.
This week I found myself mulling six values that Bobby shared with a group of pastors, missionaries, and other ministry leaders who were all applying his leadership emergence theory in the field. On an occasion in April 2011, Dr. Clinton revisited some familiar observations, dynamics, and lessons from his exhaustive research on the development of Christian leaders. For example: Leadership is difficult.Very few leaders finish well—that is, with a maturity, commitment, faithfulness, humility and zeal for Jesus. God’s enabling presence is the essential ingredient for successful leadership. Spiritual leadership can make a real difference.
But a good portion of the time he underscored with the group six personal values or underlying assumptions about how he perceived and practiced leadership.
- Value 1. A leader must seek intimacy with God, for ministry flows out of who we are in relationship to God.
- Value 2. A leader should have a developmental mindset, for God is a God who develops people.
- Value 3. A leader must continually be developing in terms of his or her grasp of God’s Word, for God’s Word is his foundational revelation of himself and his purposes
- Value 4. Over a lifetime, a leader must walk in obedience to God, for obedience is the key to knowing God’s will for a life.
- Value 5. Over a lifetime a leader must be transformed into the image of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, for a major goal of the developing God is transformation of an individual toward Christlikeness in terms of the leader’s uniqueness.
- Value 6. A leader should minister with gifted power, for the essential ingredient of leadership is the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of the leader.*
This week I have found myself reflecting upon my own life and work with these values. They have served as lenses to look through. And I share them with you so that perhaps it may encourage you to do some similar reflecting.
What has stuck with me and challenged me has been this profoundly relational vision of the Christian leader. The priority of relationship and cooperation with God — “Abide in me as I abide in you…” (John 15:4ff). And the question that has gently surfaced is something like this—Is the kind companionship of the Lord the primary story of my life and leadership or is something else?
There is tremendous pressure for Christian leaders to live a different storyline. And from where I sit this week, so many of these other storylines are simply some version of doing things for Jesus without having to actually involve myself with Jesus. A persistent temptation.
I share this not to spread guilt, but rather to invite attention. It is such a wonderful moment when we sense the Spirit’s tap on our shoulder; that is, when we discover personally God’s relentless, loving effort to “be with” his people, with us uniquely.
This week Bobby’s six values have become of bit of a Jesus’ “but not so with you” amidst the nitty gritty of my own life and work (Luke 22: 24-27)… an invitation to respond to…
Wondering as you reflect upon these six values whether there are any “but not so with you” challenges that the Spirit may be surfacing in your mind and heart?
Blessings on the journey…
* Unpublished notes from J. Robert Clinton’s “Finishing Well or Testing My Legacy” (Pasadena, CA: Fuller Seminary, April 2011). See story in Deep Mentoring: Guiding Others on Their Leadership Journey (IVP, 2012), pages 148-149.