A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

Reviews (13) Ministry

Fire in the Outback by John Blacket  (Albatross, 1997)

From the Foreword by Alan Maratja Dhamarrandji of Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island.

As a Christian aboriginal, it’s a great privilege for me to acknowledge in this book some of the great things that God has done in our time.  In 1979, we had revival that began at Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island and it affected the whole of Arnhem Land.  It spread south-west to Warburton Ranges, and then north-west to the Kimberleys.  We also had teams going to north Queensland to minister and spread the revival.

This has set a course for the church at Galiwin’ku to become an outreach church. Ever since that revival, we have been going to places and sharing what God has done and what he is still doing.  I am one of the products of that revival and I’m not the only one.  There are a few of us still on fire for the Lord.  Every year, on March 14, we celebrate that spiritual awakening and pray for a fresh touch from God through the power of his Holy Spirit.  These are exciting times for the church in Australia.  We must repent more and more so that times of refreshing will come to our churches.

Since 1977-1978, I have had the privilege of working as community worker with John Blacket.  He is one of the Balanda (white man) staff who witnessed that revival from the very beginning.  My perception is that John is a different man now since the revival.  John is one of those people who can communicate to an Aboriginal person anywhere, because he has learned to listen and understand Yolngu (Aborigines), then takes the time to share with them.  I admire him for this task and particularly for his endurance and patience with people.  Now God has given him this important ministry of reconciliation and bridging of Christian Balanda and Yolngu in Australia.  We want to see unity come to the church of God right across the land, then we will see revival come to the whole of this Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.  This book is a milestone for that revival.  I would like to commend John in his careful efforts in documenting and compiling these anointed stories.  I’m sure you are going to enjoy reading this book and will be blessed by the Lord.

Chapters in Fire in the Outback
1        Gathering firewood:  The background to the Aboriginal revival
2        Lighting the fire:  The Arnhem Land Aborigines and Christianity to 1970
3        A strong wind fans the flame:  The preparation for the revival during the 1970s
4        Creating a hot fire:  The Arnhem Land Revival, 1979
5        Sustaining the hot fire:  The Arnhem Land Revival, 1979-1981
6        Igniting the tinder-dry desert:  Revival spreads to Central Australia
7        Lighting many new fires:  The rapid spread of renewal in Central Australia
8        Fuelling a raging bushfire:  The crusades across Western Australia
9        Stirring the smouldering embers:  The first years after the Aboriginal revival
10    Fighting and lighting fires:  The late eighties and early nineties in the Aboriginal church
11    The coming of rain:  The legacy of revival in today’s Aboriginal church

The Making of a Leader: Recognising the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development. By J. R. Clinton.  Colorado: Navpress. 1988.
Reviewed by Andrew Staggs

Dr Robert Clinton has done the body of Christ a great service by researching and writing The Making of a Leader.  He skilfully deals with questions like “where do leaders come from?;  what does it take to be a leader?;  and when does leadership begin?  Clinton believes that leadership is not confined to position, title, or training, nor is it limited by experience.  It can be these things that sometimes the cloud the real issues of leadership.  In The Making of a Leader Clinton identifies the patterns God uses to develop a leader.  By studying hundreds of historical, biblical, and contemporary leaders Clinton has determined the six stages of leadership development and had established checkpoints for people to clarify where they are in the process.

By examining Clinton’s principles and case studies the reader will begin to recognise that the ministry of leadership flows from a person’s being, and that being is moulded by God throughout a lifetime.  Clinton’s book, as a result, is a book about spiritual dynamics.  The book has a focus on identifying those with leadership characteristics, directing the development of maturing leaders, recognising where people are in the development process, and counselling those who are experiencing periods of trial and frustration.

Clinton states that “leadership is a dynamic process in which a man or woman with God-given capacity influences a specific group of God’s people toward His purposes for the group.”  He also explains the use of the preferred term of “leadership development”.  Development includes all of life’s processes not just formal training.  Leaders are shaped by deliberate training and by experience.  “Leadership development” is a much broader term than leadership training because leadership training refers to the narrow part of the overall process focusing primarily on learning skills.  Leadership development includes this and much more.  Leadership development theory does what a good map is supposed to do.  It is a set of well integrated ideas (p 24) to help:

  organize what we see happening in leaders’ lives

  anticipate what might happen in future development

  understand past events so as to see new things in them

  better order our lives

Clinton summarizes his leadership development theory (p 25) as follows:

“God develops a leader over a lifetime.  That development is a function of the use of events and people to impress leadership lessons upon a leader (processing), time, and leader response.  Processing is critical to the theory.  All leaders can point to critical incidents in their lives where God taught them something very important.”

A time-line is an important tool for analysing the life of a leader for it reveals the overall pattern of God’s work in a life.  A time-line is a linear display along a horizontal axis that is broken up into development phases.  A development phase is a unit of time in a person’s life, and they are not absolutes.  They are helpful because they force one to analyse what God is doing during a given time in a person’s life.  Clinton identifies five significant units of time labelled as sovereign foundations, inner-life growth, ministry maturing, and convergence.

Sometimes, though rarely, there is a sixth phase called “afterglow” or “celebration.”  In real life, the development of Phases III, IV and V often overlap.

In Phase I God providentially works foundational items into the life of the leader-to-be.  Personality characteristics, good and bad experiences, and the time context will be used by God.  The building blocks are there, though the structure being built may not be clearly in focus.  Character traits are embedded.  These same traits in mature form will be adapted and used by God.  Many times personality traits will be seen to correlate with the spiritual gift-mix that God gives.  Usually the boundary condition between Phase I and Phase II is the conversion experience (or an all-out surrender commitment) in which the would-be-leader aspires to spend a lifetime that counts for God.

In Phase II an emerging leader usually receives some kind of training.  Often it is informal in connection with ministry.  The basic models by which he or she learns are imitation modelling and informal apprenticeships, as well as mentoring.  There can also be formal and academic training.  Closer analysis reveals that the major thrust of God’s development is inward.  The real training program is in the heart of the person, where God is doing some growth testing.

In Phase III (Ministry Maturing) the emerging leader reaches out to others.  The emerging leader gets into ministry as a prime focus of life.  He is beginning to experiment with spiritual gifts even though he may not know what this doctrine is.  He may get training in order to be more effective.  Ministry is the focus of the rising leader at this stage.  Many of his lessons will zero in on relationships with other people or on the inadequacies in his personal life.  God is developing the leader  in two ways during this time.  Through ministry, the leader can identify his gifts  and skills and use them with increasing effectiveness.  He will also gain a better understanding of the Body of Christ as he experiences the many kinds of relationships it offers.  Ministry activity or fruitfulness is not the focus of  Phase III.  God is working primarily in the leader, not through him or her.  Many emerging leaders don’t recognise this and become frustrated.  They are constantly evaluating productivity and activities, while God is quietly evaluating their leadership and ministry potential.  He wants to teach us that we minister out of what we are.

During Phase IV the leader identifies and uses his or her gift-mix with power.  There is a mature fruitfulness.  God is working through the leader using imitation modelling (Heb 13: 7-8).  That is, God uses one’s life as well as gifts to influence others.  This is a period in which giftedness emerges along with priorities.  One recognises that part of God’s guidance for ministry comes through establishing ministry priorities by discerning gifts.

During Phase V convergence occurs.  The leader is moved by God into a role that matches gift-mix, experience, temperament, etc.  Geographical location is an important part of convergence.  The role not only frees the leader from ministry for which there is no gift, but it also enhances and uses the best that the leader has to offer.  Not many leaders experience convergence because often they are promoted to roles that hinder their gift-mix.  Further, few leaders minister  out of what they are.  Their authority usually springs from a role.  In convergence, being and spiritual authority form the true power base for mature ministry.

During all the developmental phases God processes a person by bringing activities, people and problems into his or her life.  These are called process items and include integrity check, isolation, prayer challenge, power encounter etc .  The list is numerous and refers to providential events, people, circumstances, special interventions, inner life lessons and/or anything else that God uses in the leadership selection process of a person to indicate leadership potential, to develop that potential, to confirm appointment to ministry role or responsibility, or to move the leader toward God’s appointed ministry level for realised potential.  A key process item is an integrity check which tests inner character for consistency.  A successful integrity check results in a stronger leader able to serve God in a wider sphere of influence.  Integrity and faithfulness are preludes to success and giftedness.

Clinton identifies two of the major lessons of leadership development as follows:

1.  effective leaders recognise leadership selection and development as a priority function; and

2.  effective leaders increasingly perceive their ministries in terms of a lifetime     perspective.

These must be deliberately actioned for a leader to function effectively.

One of the striking characteristics seen in an effective leader is their drive to learn. They learn from all kinds of sources.  Effective leaders, at all levels of leadership, maintain a learning posture throughout life.  They also have a dynamic ministry philosophy that evolves continually from the interplay of three major factors: biblical dynamics, personal gifts, and situational dynamics.  Clinton believes that it is the ability to weave lessons into a philosophy that makes leaders effective.  One strong indicator of leadership is a learning posture that reflects itself in a dynamic ministry philosophy.  Leaders must develop a ministry philosophy that simultaneously  honours biblical leadership values, embraces the challenges of the times in which they live, and fits their unique gifts and personal development if they expect to be productive over a whole lifetime (p 180).

One significant feature of the book is a comprehensive glossary of terms used by Clinton in his insightful leadership development philosophy.  These have been summarised in Appendix A.   For example, giftedness set describes the influence capacity elements of a leader.  These include spiritual gifts, natural abilities and acquired skills.  The focal element in a giftedness set refers to the dominant influence capacity elements, either spiritual gifts, natural abilities or acquired skills, that dominates the ministry efforts of a leader.  For some leaders, spiritual gifts will dominate ministry; for others, natural abilities or acquired skills will dominate.

 The Making of a Leader can be a great encouragement to lay, professional and future leaders as they begin to see the direct hand of God in their development.  They will learn of the providence of God and will sense a continuity of God’s working in their past to develop them as a leader.  There will also be a high degree of anticipation of what is going to do in the future.  The insights gained from this excellent resource will cause people to perceive themselves and others differently, and will cause people to be more deliberate in using these insights for the development and training of others.

© Renewal Journal #13: Ministry, http://www.renewaljournal.com
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.

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Comments on: "Reviews (13) Ministry" (1)

  1. […] by Richard Riss Primacy of Love, by Heidi Baker Spirit Impacts in Revivals, by Geoff Waugh Book Reviews:  Fire in the Outback, by John Blacket;  The Making of a Leader, by J R […]

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