LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT & Clinton’s 6 Phases for Developing Leaders

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 2010.

Clinton’s Phases

Bobby Clinton from Fuller Seminary focused on the phases of the journey after new birth (Figure 2). Though other authors have offered similar process models,[i] Clinton’s is one of the best organized and defined. In addition, Clinton emphasizes that these phases overlap and are indigenized for each person.[ii] Let us look briefly at each of what Clinton calls “Six Phases of Leadership Development.”


Figure 2

Clinton’s Six Phases of Leadership Development[iii]

I Sovereign Foundations

New birth: A New Disciple is Born

II Inner-life Growth

III Ministry Maturation

IV Life Maturation

V Convergence

VI Afterglow


 

  1. Sovereign Foundations. Clinton suggest this phase begins in the period before new birth. Clinton sees God imbuing His creation with certain personality characteristics that after new birth will correlate to spiritual gifts. During this phase God is preparing a leader through experiences and character traits.[iv]

A New Disciple is Born. Between Phase 1 and 2, Clinton sees “an all out surrender commitment, in which the would-be-leader aspires to spend a lifetime that counts for God.”[v] Here Engel offers here more depth as he charts the minute, but important, mental steps that lead up to a “surrender commitment.” Therefore, Engel’s preparatory steps to this experience will contribute more robustly to our waypoint approach.

  1. Inner-life Growth. In this phase Clinton describes the mentoring and modeling that the new Christian experiences. Clinton neglects Engel’s insights regarding the post-birth evaluation, yet Clinton adds to our understandings the influence of both informal apprenticeships and formal training.[vi]

III. Ministry Maturation: Ministry as the Prime Focus of Life. This phase occurs as the disciple senses ministry is increasingly becoming a focus of their life. The disciple is motivated to explore ministry options and spiritual giftings.[vii] At this juncture, Clinton offers the most satisfying insights, pointing out that much of the growth in the new disciple is self-directed, meaning the disciple must take it upon themselves to look for opportunities to volunteer, minister to others and evaluate effectiveness. Ministry is thus often organic, unpaid and unscripted.[viii] Though Clinton notes that “most people are anxious to bypass Phase II and get on with the real thing – Phase III, ministry,”[ix] in hindsight Phase II can be very satisfying because all options are possible and hope abounds.

  1. Life Maturation: Gift-mix With Power. Here Clinton offers a critical insight into the powerful synergy that is unleashed when a person finds a ministry that corresponds to their gifts. Ministry priorities are also established during this phase, which Clinton describes as a phase of “mature fruitfulness.”[x]
  2. Everything Converges. In this phase personality, training, experience, gifts and geographical location converge to release ministry that is not only effective but also widely appreciated. Clinton points out that not all disciples reach this stage, but by just defining the stage Clinton gives us a mental picture of God’s potential for the individual. “Ministry is maximized” sums up Clinton.
  3. Afterglow. This is a phase when a person’s ministry is so influential over such an extended period of time, that the person enjoys the afterglow of effective ministry. Thought a end that should be considered, Clinton notes that in reality few get there. However, travelers should not be discouraged nor surprised, for the Scriptures are replete with examples of saints who never attained (at least in this life) afterglow.

Clinton provides an interesting roadmap toward the growth of influential and effective leadership, even if the higher phases are often not realized in this lifetime. It is in the phases of leadership development that Clinton bests Engel.[xi]

[i] I.e. John C. Maxwell, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1999); Max DePree, Leadership is an Art (New York: Dell Publishing, 1989), Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, Strengths-Based Leadership (Washington, DC: Gallup Press, 2009); Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us (New York: Portfolio, 2008).

[ii] Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1988), 30.

[iii]Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader.

[iv] Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader, 31.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] While Clinton addresses the influence of personal mentoring, he does not address the influence of the Christian community to the degree of Engel. Research shows that the health of a church community is an important factor in fostering leadership development (Whitesel, Growth by Accident, Death by Planning, and Inside the Organic Church, along with parallels in the business world, Mary Jo Hatch and Majken Schultz, The Dynamics of Organizational Identity [Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004] and Mary Jo Hatch, Monika Kostera and Andrzej K. Kozminski, Three Faces of Leadership: Manager, Artist, Priest [Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005]).

[vii] This would be Engel’s sub-stage of “discovery and use of gifts.”

[viii] For “A Comparison Between Institutionalization and Improvisation” see Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, 119.

[ix] Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader, 32.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] While Engel emphasizes spiritual disciplines, there is no guarantee in Engel’s scale that spiritual maturity will correspond with these actions. For example, just because a person is experiencing Engel’s +8 Stage of stewardship of resources, or +9 Stage of prayer, does not mean that person is actually growing in maturity. These are actions that should accompany maturity in faith, but do not necessarily do so. Thus Engel emphasizes the artifacts of the journey, but Clinton emphasizes their influence.

Excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010).

Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints Introduction & Appendix