This is a guest post by my dear friend Oneka McClellan. Oneka and her Husband Earl are the lead pastors at Shoreline Dallas. Oneka has 2 beautiful boys, and can be found turning the pages of the latest fashion magazines. Be sure to follow Oneka on twitter.
The mark of a good leader is loyal followers.
The beauty in leading comes fully alive in the art of serving well. I feel I am the leader I am today because early in the journey I learned to: follow well, honor my leaders, be fiercely loyal, and become an armor-bearer. Now that I am leading Shoreline Dallas, a new church with my husband Earl and our son Parker, it is evident God has blessed us with leaders who serve passionately. I’m so grateful for the serving seeds we planted long before leading our own congregation.
Following is a lost art. My definition of following is having an “ends of the earth” outlook. I will follow my leader to the ends of the earth and I will take their ideas and vision and make them my own. I will do all that I can to help make their dreams a reality. In doing so, what I have found is many of my own dreams have come true as a result of me carrying out the vision of my leader. I am not to be in competition with my leaders. My job is to represent them with excellence and sincerity.
Honoring our leaders is also mission critical. It is important to make them present even when they aren’t present. Like when visiting someone from the church in the hospital I would always say our Pastors send their love. Or when speaking for our pastors or in front of fellow staff or the congregation I would always honor them and make their love for the particular group I was addressing known. It’s important to not try to take the mantle and favor on your leaders’ lives and make it your own. Some insecure leaders may use opportunities given to them by their leaders to exercise their own agenda or to redirect praise to themselves. This is very dangerous territory and opens unhealthy doors. Honoring is not belittling to the one giving the honor. It is showing love and respect for those we humbly serve.
Loyalty is key in serving well. Our leaders have to have confidence in knowing we have their best interests in mind. They have to know when their back is turned we have them covered. When they have a weak moment or shortcoming we protect them and provide an atmosphere where they can let their hair down. In my 15+ years in ministry, I have had people take shots at my leaders. That is not a time for me to agree and air my leader’s dirty laundry. That is the time for me to speak the truth, shut down any lies and protect the character and integrity of my leader. Whenever someone talks ill of one of my leaders to my face, I correct the inaccuracies that are often cited. Since we have the privilege of being on the “inside” of our leader’s lives we see them behind closes doors. We see the sacrifices, the burdens, and the pressures. It’s our job to diffuse those fiery darts that come their way.