Archive for the 'Mentoring' Category

Leadership Mentoring Groups

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Few things I do are as enjoyable or as energizing as the Leadership Mentoring Groups that I occasionally get to pull together for younger leaders.  I’ve done these for about ten years.  It’s refreshing to be able to get my head out of the clouds of organizational leadership and all the demands of CRM around the world and engage in a meaningful way with men and women of this caliber.

Men's Group

These groups use some of our reFocusing processes, a good dose of spiritual formation and mentoring concepts, and address issues of being a bible-centered leader.  (Bobby Clinton often joins us for an evening on this topic).   The result is that these younger leaders move toward clarity regarding God’s leading and calling in their lives.  That is significant as most are making decisions now that will affect the future trajectories of their lives and ministry.  I suspect almost all of these men and women will end up in some form of vocational ministry and many will be with CRM somewhere around the world.

Women's Group

What is also remarkable is the % in each group that have pronounced apostolic and leadership calling.  For many, the level of frustration has been high as they have thrashed around searching for their “niche” in God’s kingdom purposes.  As a result of the weeks they invest together, most begin to hit stride in finding the groove that God has for them.  For some, my role with CRM means I can help sponsor them into contexts where their calling can be lived out to the max.

I hope to do such groups a couple times each year.  While I am pleased at the gender diversity represented in this past cycle, I would like to see more cultural diversity that would better reflect the changing face of the Church in North America.  Nevertheless, these two groups above were exceptional, and the destinies these individuals will walk into will contribute profoundly to Jesus and his Kingdom.

Applying the “Informal Theorem”

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Much of the leadership development theory that emanates out of J. Robert Clinton is a confirmation of the obvious if we reflect long enough to recognize it.  His “Informal Theorem” is a good example of such an intuitive truth:

“The more informal the training medium the more potential for in-depth impact in the life of the trainee.”

One of the most powerful venues I have for such in-depth impact in the lives of younger leaders is an annual week-long boat trip on Lake Powell in the Arizona desert.  It’s an unparalleled opportunity for guys to play hard, share deeply, and relate profoundly.

The group this year – 18 CRM staff or potential staff – will be scattered to the nations in the coming months:  Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa.  But what has transpired in their lives, and the relationships they have built during this one week in September 08, will stay with them the rest of their lives.  Deo Gratias!

Emerging Leaders

Saturday, May 10th, 2008


Each year since 1998, I have tried to pull together what I’ve grown to call a “Leadership Mentoring Group” made up of guys in their 20s and early 30s.

These are men who are usually grappling with issues related to calling and what God wants to do with their lives. Most believe they are headed into some form of vocational ministry. We meet one evening a month for several months.

This is the latest group that wrapped up this week.

They read through several books such as Clinton’s Making of a Leader and Connecting, and we process a lot of leadership and spiritual formation stuff together. The end game is coming out with a sense of personal calling.

When I look at this group, the caliber is remarkable. They have the potential to affect the nations for the sake of Jesus and his Kingdom presence. Dominus, planto is sic!

Decisive Leadership

Friday, January 4th, 2008


A quote passed on from Bobby Clinton this week stimulated some thought:

“When the church was on the move and both the Roman and Jewish leaders were opposing it, someone had to make quick, Spirit-led decisions. And we can only imagine the kinds of issues that could have splintered this frail organization when the church leaped over its cultural boundaries to include Samaritans and Gentiles. Because Peter was a leader whose ego could endure the threat of disagreement and challenge he was not afraid to act. He was not careless, but he was not afraid to move, and under his leadership the church got things done. Peter was a leader who made decisions that mattered.”—from Handbook to Leadership-Leadership in the Image of God, by Boa, Buzzell and Perkins (pg. 14)

I’ve worked and led some strong leaders over the years. Sometimes they are referred to as leaders who lead “hard.” I believe there is a desperate need for such men and women throughout the contemporary Christian movement, but all too often we seem to want to beat out of these people the very characteristics that make them effective. That’s understandable because some of us have been bruised by such people. So we live in a time where collaborative leadership, buy-in, ownership, and facilitation are the prevailing values. Peter, Paul, or Moses probably wouldn’t fare to well.

When I’ve recruited or assumed responsibility for people with strong personalities, (Enneagram #8, ENTJ, High-D, Type-A people), there are several non-negotiables that I particularly look for if I am to coach, mentor or supervise them:

1. Character – Do they have integrity? When push comes to shove, will they do the right thing?

2. Teachability – Can they follow, genuinely submitting to to the leadership of others? Do they have the posture of a learner? Can they be corrected or do they behave like the stubborn fool that Proverbs repeatedly warns us about?

3. Emotional health – How great is their need for affirmation and validation? Are their emotional needs such that they will they suck me and others dry looking for approval? Will they demand strokes which no one can ever adequately provide and in reality, only God can give?

4. Spiritual Vitality – Can they hear from God? If so, are they responsive to the Spirit and the Word and going ever deeper in dependence upon Jesus? Is there evidence that their rough edges are being refined in the process of submission to God’s sanctifying rule?

It’s naive to mistake strong, decisive leadership for authoritarian, top-down leadership. If servant leadership, thoroughly biblical in nature, can be exercised effectively through a person like Peter, there is hope for many others. We shouldn’t shy from recruiting and sponsoring strong personalities into roles of responsibility just because they can be a handful. At the same time, I’m not interested in putting myself in a relational cusinart, trying to help someone who is out of touch with who they really are and exhibits some of the disqualifiers above. They key, as we see demonstrated in how Jesus dealt with the likes of Peter, was knowing the difference.


Thursday, October 5th, 2006

 D Inventors 1 0 E L Edisonpattern
Edison’s Muckers crica 1876

“In selecting what he called his ‘Muckers’, he [Thomas Edison] prized curiosity, reasoning, resilience and versatility over specialization …He was a magnet for talent from all over the world. Over time, a team of virtuosos emerged that he entrusted to deliver on his dreams and generously rewarded in return.”

“Edison was one of the boys yet still the authoritative leader. If expectations on his team were at times impossibly high, the atmosphere was informal and freewheeling. The ‘Muckers’ did not work to any rules,’ said Edison, ‘because they were trying to achieve something.’ Announcing momentous success before the solution was even in his view. He stretched his Muckers, creating an astounding esprit de corps in the process.”

God, give me a life surrounded by a growing number of “muckers!”

(Quotes are from Bill Fischer, professor of technology management at IMD, and Andy Boynton, dean of the Carroll School of Management at Boston College).

Edison the Innovator

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

 People Images Edison
I’m on a flight to Eastern Europe and browsing through a British magazine with a synopsis of a study on Thomas Edison, the famous American inventor. Several lines have caught my attention:

“Central to Edison’s success was his ‘invention factory’, bringing together great people, constant prototyping and a culture of innovation and enterprise … He believed that, while ‘books show the theory of things, doing a thing itself is what counts.’ He saw failure as part of the inventive process.”

I continue to be amazed at how movements can ossify and institutionalize. Organizational gravity inevitably pulls toward institutionalization. The justifications used by the bean counters, policy makers, and those who must have rules and regulation are legion: “accountability…stewardship…excellence”...can all be admirable labels for clubs that are used to beat innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit out of an organizational culture.

In my experience the only way to keep an edge and a step ahead of the maintainers is to recruit and empower a steady stream of what Edison called “muckers.” They are the trailblazers who simply need running room and someone to believe in them. That’s why recruiting such men and women in the emerging generation is one of my top priorities. I believe nothing has the capacity to bring about as much lasting, transformational change as this. It’s part of my own personal mission statement. Part of that to which God has called me is:

To challenge, recruit, sponsor and empower growing numbers of godly, high potential leaders into apostolic ministry and

To pioneer, nurture and grow apostolic structures which will multiply leadership for the Church in every nation.

Goodwin’s Expectation Principle

Friday, September 8th, 2006

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Another principle that Clinton emphasizes in strategic leadership transition is Goodwin’s Expectation Principle which comes from a small booklet on leadership written by Bernie Goodwin, published by InterVarsity Press.

“Emerging leaders tend to rise up to the level of genuine expectations of older leaders whom they respect.”

This powerful social dynamic assumes some important pre-requsites:

1. Emerging leaders and older leaders are in relationships of meaning.
2. Older types understand such a principle and see the value in it. They are willing to invest in such relationships.
3. The old heads have also earned the respect of the newcomers. The grey hairs are models worth emulating.
4. The emerging leaders are teachable and desirous of learning from those who have gone before.
5. The older leaders know how to mentor, coach and communicate expectations with a genuineness, humility and transparency that inspires.

I honestly believe that there have been few motivators more powerful in my life than having someone believe in me. I can name the handful whom God has used in such a profound way. They trusted me. They spoke “faith” into my life. They emphasized my strengths and not my weaknesses. They were conduits of God’s grace, kindness and acceptance. They saw for me beyond what I could see for myslef. They enhanced my relationship with Jesus and urged me on in the pursuit of God. They loved me. I would not be who I am today without them.

May I be as faithful in the lives of selected emerging leaders as those who have gone before have been in mine.

Co-Ministry and Emerging Leaders

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

We'll Work Together
It seems so simple. But Clinton’s principle of co-ministry for the development of emerging leadership is profound:

“Co-ministry with higher-level leaders is a must. Such a ministry raises the status of an emerging leader toward the status of the respected leader he/she co-ministers with, gives exposure to the organization’s people, and provides experiential learning.”

There is no substitute for taking someone along. One of the best means I have of sharing and imparting life with younger leaders is to get them out of their comfort zone, travel with me and be immersed in ministry settings around the world. It’s amazing what can be accomplished through many hours together at 35,000 feet in the air, punctuated by on-the-ground experiences with people in the trenches of real life and ministry in cross-cultural venues.

The principle is another way of stating the obvious when we closely examine the life of Jesus. He trained the 12 in the midst of ministry to the multitude. His process was not some isolated, ivory tower experience. Rather, it was an intensely relational form of mentoring which took place in real life with all of its physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Mentoring and Leadership Transitions

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

One of Bobby Clinton’s more significant contributions to my own thinking and practice as I move into a new season of ministry responsibility has been regarding “strategic leadership transitions.” Of his ten principles, his comments about mentoring as a primary means are particularly applicable:

“Mentoring (both from within the organization and without) must be intentional and in terms of developmental needs. A whole range of mentoring is needed. There should be short term mentoring as well as long term mentoring. Mentor sponsoring, of course, is the major thrust of the whole strategic leadership transition function. But coaching (of the next needed leadership level skills is a must). Spiritual direction is paramount. Contemporary modeling is a major way younger leaders learn about leadership. Taking younger leaders with you and allowing them to sit in on major problem solving activities and seeing how decisions are made will speed their development as leaders, immensely. Sponsoring is crucial and should be deliberate. This includes linking to important needed resources-including people and finances. Send them to seminars and workshops and conferences and pay for it. Send them to school if that can help, and pay for it.”

Emerging Church and Mission

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006


What I wrote in yesterday’s post (9- 2-06) is mostly aimed at the church in its traditional, modern setting.

But what about the “emerging” church? How can those within these creative, emerging expressions of the church who have a passion for the world beyond their own communities be effectively stifled? What could be done to straight jacket what God wants to do with them?

1. Believe that the necessity for such workers and such ministry is passe’, doesn’t exit, or is “too modern for us.”
2. Be so enamored with social justice and a holistic gospel that we fail to embrace the clear commands of scripture regarding the evangelistic mandate or reject such categorization out of hand.
3. Have a lack of appreciation and understanding of the doctrine of spiritual gifts and be unable or unwilling to help identify those emerging leaders who may be gifted and called to ministry across social, linguistic or cultural barriers.
4. Convince them that just because they are enjoying life as a missional community in one cultural milieu, they can then duplicate the same forms of community in another.
5. Help them buy into the theological and historically naive concept that structurally the church in its local expression is the same as the church in its cross-cultural missionary form.
6. Encourage them to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the past 500 years of missionary activity and missiological understanding. Write it all off as modern, institutional or non-organic.
7. While astutely helping them apply missiological eyes to their own mono-cultural settings much better than their modern brethren, simultaneously fail in helping them to apply the same understanding to the international and cross-cultural dimensions of the missio dei.
8. Embrace a theological posture that says only “presence” is necessary for kingdom influence.
9. Consider hell a repulsive, outmoded concept for the postmodern mind and work to erase any motivation that could stem from the biblical reality that people without Jesus risk eternity separated from God.
10. Be like many of those committed to the radical discipleship movement or the Anabaptist tradition who have been so concerned for the purity of the church and living counter-culturally that they are rarely able to engage contemporary culture and instead, remain irrelevantly on the fringes.
11. Encourage them to read, think, write and blog about being missional but don’t empower them to do much in practice.
12. Write off mentors from the over 50 crowd as out of touch and irrelevant.
13. Inculcate such an anti-institutional bias and suspicion of authority that they become useless in a neo-monastic or sodalic ministry context which will require discipline, followership and sacrifice.

15 Ways to Handicap a Potential Missionary in Your Local Church

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006


1. Force them to go through a “missions preparation” program which effectively weeds out the entrepreneurs.
2. Don’t consult with anyone who has ever lived with cross-cultural realities when you design your requirements for those who will be sent.
3. Choose people to oversee your mission efforts who have no experience or understanding of cross-cultural realities.
4. Make missions a “program” instead of seeking to make your church missional.
5. Decide to support missionaries 100% of their budget. It creates marvelous dependency.
6. Have standards that Mother Teresa or the Apostle Paul incarnate couldn’t meet.
7. Require seminary.
8. Make sure they have taught 5th grade Sunday School class as a pre-requisite which demonstrates loyalty to the church.
9. Imbue an ecclesiology that believes the sending church is supreme and missionary entities are appendages.
10. Ignore the concept of leverage and only support “front line” workers.
11. Adopt a trendy and unsophisticated view of missions that only supports those going to unreached people groups.
12. Placate the control freaks and don’t let potential missionaries raise money from anyone in the church.
13. Limit whom they can minister with to your own denominational or creedal group. Perish the thought that they would be contaminated by touching those who may be their neighbors in heaven.
14. Encourage “storehouse giving” so that all their money must come through the church.
15. Convince your congregation that short-term, tantalizing overseas experiences are most effective so that there is little money, prayer or commitment left for the few willing to commit their lives to longer term, incarnational, sacrificial service

13 Ways to Squash a Leader

Monday, August 21st, 2006

Under The Thumb
Here is short list on how to frustrate, stifle and squash a leader, particularly those with any sense of apostolic gifting:

1. Force them to go to school
2. Give them too much money
3. Tell them all the reasons why something can’t be done.
4. Swamp them with paperwork and administration.
5. Give them people to lead who are excessively needy.
6. Limit their travel and keep them in mono-cultural contexts.
7. Consistently correct them when they are provocative or prophetic in their communication.
8. Make certain any initiative they take must go through multiple steps of approval.
9. Insert “conserve” and “maintain” into all their conversations.
10. Have someone who “gift projects” strong pastoral gifting supervise them.
11. Tell them to stay when they want to go.
12. Make certain they have plenty of rules and policies to live by.
13. Give them a precise, detailed, inflexible job description.

Any suggestions about what could be added to the list?

Leadership Selection

Friday, May 12th, 2006

Baton Pass

“The skills involved in selecting and training church leaders on the
mission fields of the world are without question the most important skills that apostolically gifted missionaries can take to most fields today.” – C. Peter Wagner (commentary on Acts, p 326).

Wagner highlights a component of ministry that determines the survivability and health of the Christian movement, regardless of setting. While critical and essential, such a function is not flashy. It’s slow, behind the scenes, and often unnoticed. It’s not emotionally gripping and the type of activity at which people throw lots of money. It demands intentionality. It demands priority. Bobby Clinton articulates this as one of the major leadership lessons of the Bible:
“Effective leaders view leadership selection and development as a priority function.”

– J. Robert Clinton

I know of no better way to invest a life for God’s kingdom purposes than in pursuit of ministry that contributes to such strategic results. At its core, that is what CRM is all about. And personally, wherever Patty and I live, wherever we ministry, whatever team we are part of, whatever we do, this particularly ministry focus is what consumes us.

How Not to Grow People Who Can Lead …

Saturday, April 8th, 2006


“In my own denomination, theological education has become a part of a bureaucratic system that does not allow the emergence of indigenous leadership from the congregations. We deliberately break that pattern. You can’t be ordained in the congregation where you grew up, discovered your gifts, and move into ministry. This is one of the biggest difference compared to …churches which are seedbeds of leadership development.”

– Roberta Hestenes, former President, Eastern College.