Alan Wilson

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Among terms used to describe the events and experiences that contribute to the shaping of leaders is Warren Bennis’s and Robert Thomas’s “crucibles.” Their use of the term emerged from a series of interviews with leaders who referred to a transformative experience that had contributed to their leadership. This paper describes a research project whose aim was to explore the significance of such experiences in the development of Christian leaders. The experiences of fourteen leaders were examined, and analysis of the experiences demonstrated how they had a part to play in shaping both the character and calling of a leader; at times, crucibles functioned as intensified learning experiences in which a leader’s beliefs took on an existential intensity. While crucibles may be significant features in the development of a leader, attention must also be paid to other, more incremental, factors.