Leadership Development and Starbucks!

Took myself out to Starbucks the other day. It was a reward for meeting one of my habits for 7 consecutive days.

With my I brought Clinton’s Leadership Emergence Theory book, a small notebook and a pen. This is definitely my preferred way to study.

Here is a brief summary of the things I read:


  • L = Development of a given leader
  • f = Defined by
  • p = Processing/Process Items
  • t = Time
  • r = Response Patterns of a Leader

Let’s unpack this here:

Development of a Given Leader

We have already seen that God is both directly (easy to spot events/Critical Incidents) and indirectly (often revealed through retrospective reflection) involved in our development as individuals and leaders.

  • God develops Leadership Character via Spiritual Formation
  • God develops Leadership Skills via Ministerial Formation
  • God develops Leadership Values via Strategic Formation

Our development is in God’s hands…and yet, we have a role to play. I love how the apostle Paul frames his leadership in the letter to the Colossians: “I strenuously contend with all the energy that Christ so powerfully works in me”.

Processing + Critical Incidents

One of the things we can do, if we want to understand God’s developmental work in our lives is to review the “critical incidents” that God has filled our lives with. To do this we might start by mapping out a timeline of our lives.

Writing down all the events that have happen which have impacted our leadership. Some of these events will have informed us of the direction God intends for us. Other events nurture that various values we hold into leadership. Whilst still other incidents provide us with tools and methods by which we will conduct leadership. (Direction, Values and Methodologies). – I will delve into these in much more detail in a coming post, and maybe even share my own timeline (or at least part of it).

Time Analysis

From Clinton’s work study the many 1000s of leaders lives across decades of work he has identified two main time lines. One for the individual and another for the leader’s development in relation to ministry.

God frequently works with us, within the constraints of time. We develop and grow, often in a linear fashion (even if we often spiral and need to learn the same things over and over again but more deeply). Therefore we can expect that as time moves on we will journey further and develop more into the leaders God is calling us to me.

(Again, I’ll probably need to unpack one or both of these timelines in more detail in another post).

Response Patterns

Sometimes, the process items or critical incidents which God places on our journey call for a response. It might be a response to something we’ve read in the Bible, a response to local church request for helpers at x, y or z function. It could be a response pertaining to integrity or honesty in the workplace, family, or amongst friends.

How, we respond to such moments will effect and influence our movement towards (or away from) God’s developmental work in us. Again to reiterate, our response does not earn our development (see point 3 in this post). Apart from Christ we have nothing, and all that we do have can be considered ‘dung’ (Phil 3:8).

And yet, over and over again, the witness of scripture is that we are invited to co-labour with God. Will we do so willingly or unwittingly?

I love the story of the exodus and how over and over again it says Pharoah’s heart was hardened. I once heard someone explain that when you bring fire close to wax it melts, but if you bring fire close to clay it hardens. Apart from Jesus our hearts are clay, we cannot soften before Him (remember when the Bible says ‘apart from faith it is impossible to please God’). Because of what Jesus has done at the cross, our heart has been turned from stone into wax. When God comes near to us we soften to His work. When I talk about response and how it impacts development. I do not mean that we contribute in anyway to the transformation of clay into wax. But rather, I mean allowing God’s flame to penetrate our already transformed hearts. Wax will not melt if it flees the flame.

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