Resource: The Making of a Leader

By DiscipleshipJournal • Books, Resources • 15 Nov 2012


The Making of a Leader by J. Robert Clinton is one of the top books in my Discipling Toolbelt!

(In fact, I keep several copies in my bookshelf). It has been a powerful tool in my life and I’ve had great success leading other people through the content. I was very excited today looking on amazon to find that they have just released a 2nd edition with some added material.  I can’t wait to get my hands on it and interact with the extras!)

Why use tMoaL?
tMoaL is a great tool for understanding the way God works to develop us for our role in His Kingdom.  Knowing that process, you are better equipped to understand the past, make sense of the present, and be prepared for the future.

Clinton has studied the lives of over 3000 leaders, examining the way God has worked to develop them.  Through his research he has noticed a general pattern in God’s leadership development process.  In the book he demonstrates the way God is sovereignly at work (from long before we are born) preparing us for our unique role in His Kingdom.  He walks through each of the stages of that process explaining the events, transition indicators and lessons that are typical to each stage.  He uses real-life examples and discussion questions to help you interact with the content, so that you can identify where God has you in the developmental process.

If you haven’t read The Making of a Leader,
then you should jump online now and buy a copy!

Some of the Strengths:

  • Helpful vocabulary for discussing God’s developmental processes.
  • Gives insight into where you are in that process and what lessons and skills God may be teaching you.
  • Develops self-awareness of your unique makeup (spiritual gifts, stage in development, unique lessons learned).
  • Helps redeem the difficult seasons you’ve experienced.
  • Increased confidence about God’s hand upon your life and your unique role in His Kingdom
  • By evaluating where you’ve come from, and where you are, the book can give you insight into where you’re heading.
  • The book morphs along with your growth.  Each new stage you transition into unlocks a whole new treasure trove of helpful insights and processing.


Some of the Frustrations:

  • This is not a concrete linear process:
    People have often voiced frustration because they feel that the book is too linear.  Clinton has several disclaimers through the book that this is a general guideline that we fit into and not a definite pattern we must all walk through step-by-step.  Use the book as a guide not as a boxing-in tool.
  • He’s obsessed with labels:
    In coming up with a vocabulary for our development Clinton has a label for everything you experience. I find them really straightforward and helpful but I have heard a couple of people say it drove them mad.  In my experience, the more you use the book, the more helpful the vocabulary becomes.
  • “I’m not a leader”:
    I’ve heard this a lot as a reason to ignore the book or avoid the tool.  The book is focused on ministry leadership, but Clinton’s leadership study has involved leaders from all domains of life and so the principles are broader.  The important thing about the book is the principles and skills that it teaches.  These are applicable for everyone from the flower arranger to the preacher to the chair stacker to the CEO.


Suggestions on how to use it?

  1. Use it one-on-one or gather a group of people to work through it together.
    Hearing the examples from a number of people is really insightful.
  2. Work through the book a chapter a week, then get together to discuss.
    You want time to chew on the content and to journal out your response to the questions.
  3. VERY IMPORTANT:  Make sure you ANSWER the questions!
    This is where the real fruit lies!  You’ll get out of the book what you put into it
  4. VERY IMPORTANT TOO:  Write them down!
    That way, when you come to take someone else through the book, you’ve got all your processing in front of you rather than having to re-answer the questions or pluck thoughts from thin air.  Also, each time you re-read or re-use the book, you come up with different examples and see the way you have grown.
  5. Be Aware:  It’s really common to place yourself further along on the Leadership Timeline than you actually are.  Don’t!
  6. Don’t skip the interview questions!!!
    There are a couple of occasions where the assignment is to interview a mature believer about the chapter contents.  You really miss out when you skip these ones.  (1) There is so much to learn from the experience of those who are further along than us. (2) Their processing helps demonstrate the validity of the books content.  (3) Often, they haven’t processed this themselves (and if they have, they have a different vocabulary), so you become a tool helping them while you gain greater insight into their life (and yours!)

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