Got a leader? Whether you call them Mother, Father, covering, by title, or their first name, your leader should represent something in your life. Yes, a good leader represents authority and respect, and their office is one to which you are accountable. At the same time, a good leader provides an important element of security to your life and/or ministry. There are many leaders who know how to demand authority, respect, and accountability, but are not doing anything to build up their people. By holding to an exterior appearance of dignity and purpose, they deceive people by having an outward appearance of leadership, with little to no substance.
Being a covering (spiritual leader) indicates a level of grace, protection, and comfort should come from the work of covering ministry. I know that I can be hard on those who are under a leader, because people can be difficult and demanding of leadership. There is an epidemic of selfishness, nasty attitudes, disobedience, defiance, lack of service, and smart mouths in today’s church. People desire to mouth off, voice their opinions, and speak with disorder rather than order. Every time the leaders of God establish guidelines for training or membership, someone has a reason why they need to be the exception to that rule. Being a leader can be very difficult. This fact, however, does not change what a leader should be doing for the people they cover. As difficult as things may be, it is all the more important to help discover balance and purpose in that call – and step out in faith, being a leader God has created.
Here is a list of ten things a good leader does – and your leader should be doing for you.
1. Have your back – Do you feel like your leader is for you? A lot of people have the impression that a leader should be against them, fighting and working against them, because that is what they’ve learned to associate with leadership. Some leaders think the best way to build character and ministry understanding in someone they cover is to be as hard, controlling, and unrelenting on them as possible. Others think that covering means using the people they lead to build up their own ministries or finances. All of these are wrong, and display a spirit of competition, burden, and an open door for a leader to become scared to lead or walk in authority. While a leader should never be a floor mat or a disordered, a leader should also not be the cause of problems in the lives and ministries of those they cover. A leader should NEVER be competing with the people they cover, backbiting or gossiping about them, or causing them to feel discouraged through intimidation. Your leader should be your biggest advocate and someone you can trust to guide you rightly because they seek God’s best for you in the Kingdom.
2. Teach/train you – Depending on your position in the Kingdom (either an attending member not called to ministry leadership or called to leadership), your level of needed training varies. Someone who is not called to ministry leadership can attend service at a church under a pastor and, given the pastor is sufficiently called and meeting with their calling, they will be sufficiently prepared and equipped for life. Someone who is called to ministry leadership needs different training, under a different ministry office of the five-fold, that is more intensive to study in the Word and equipping for their call. A leader should never take someone on and not train or work with them in some way. Different offices, different ministers, and different experiences in ministry require different training, so yes, a covering may adjust the training to the circumstances – but that doesn’t mean training is nonexistent. If you are under a leader who is not involved in any sort of ministerial formation with you…you aren’t experiencing the work of a good leader.
3. Pray for you – This one sounds obvious, but you would be amazed at the number of leaders who believe their people should pray for them, but they do not have to pray for their people. Part of being a covering means keeping people covered in prayer. If your leader is constantly too busy to pray for you, listen to your requests, or discuss with you from time to time, your covering is not doing their job. It is not appropriate for you to pray for your leader, and your leader never pray for you.
4. Take an interest in your ministry – Considering the fact that, most likely, your covering also covers several other people, it is not possible for your covering to be at every event you have, every service you have, or able to answer every single phone call you make to them the second you call. Sometimes, some coverings are not able to return calls for several days (and on occasion, weeks) due to preaching engagements, being out of town, or other extenuating ministerial circumstances. It is important, however, that you know your leader is interested in your ministry, in what you are doing, and in discussing matters that relate to your ministerial work. Your leader should know your calling, the name of your ministry (and whether or not you will be changing your direction in ministry anytime soon), your events and activities, ministry contacts, your gifts and call, your vision for ministry, location of your ministry, and your training, both past and present. As part of your training, you should provide necessary communication about your ministry to your covering in whatever form required – whether it is monthly reports, regular conversations, publications, etc. A good covering is involved in what you are doing, given their situation and yours, when they can. Good leaders lead as servants – by example – as they are hands-on in whatever you are doing.
5. Respect your unique call, life, ministry, or leadership – Not every ministry/minister has the same call, purpose, or work. Not every minister is destined to walk the same walk or do the same things. Some ministers will be married, some will be single, some will have children, some will be childless, some will be younger, some will be older, some will have extensive complications, and some will have simple times. In paralleling the Word, some will be apostles, some will be prophets, some will be evangelists, some will be pastors, and some will be teachers. Having said this, it is important that a covering respects the unique call, life, ministry, and leadership present within those they cover. A covering should understand God’s leadership order, the office you are called to, and the ways they can help develop your ministry for that purpose. In understanding this, they should respect the work God is doing within you – not belittle it or demean it. You should never feel like you and your covering are in ministerial competition or that your covering does not respect your call, life, or leadership. As long as you are not somehow living contrary to the Gospel, there is absolutely no reason why your leader should interfere in your life.
6. Acknowledge your gifts, but embrace your fruit – When we first start in ministry, we are often very enamored with the gifts God has placed within us. A good covering recognizes your gifts, but is much more interested in seeing your gifts become fruitful. It may seem at times that your covering is pushing you too much or not pushing you enough, but with a good leader, neither is the case. What a good covering is trying to do is discover the balance needed to help your every gift become productive and fruitful, while avoiding extremes. Good leaders want to see you do good things with your ministry work. I know that, as a leader, one of the hardest things for me to do is watch people I cover stalemate in some way. It is hard to hear God tell me to “wait” to work with them on something, and equally difficult to try and instruct or guide, only to experience resistance or watch them falter. Yes, your covering is very aware of the anointing God has placed upon your life and is very aware of the gifts you have….but your covering also knows it takes more than gifts to get ministry done. This is where training becomes vital for those in ministry. If you have a leader who is all about your gifts but not about what you are doing with them or working on doing with them…(insert obvious here).
7. Make you wait when you have to – When it’s about us, we are ALWAYS ready to go, go, go. Even though we may see the necessity in waiting as applies to someone else, we don’t usually see it in ourselves. Nobody likes to hear that it’s time to wait, sit down, and discipline ourselves to hear the Word of God to us, for us, and working in us. We don’t like to hear that maybe we aren’t doing something right, or aren’t ready for something. A good leader will put themselves aside (and what I mean by that is not hold you back out of their own vanity) and talk to you about seeking God in a deeper way for direction, while offering needed training and correction. If you have a leader who just lets you do whatever you want…that’s not a leader who is going to help you grow.
8. Correct AND encourage you – Normal leaders enjoy correction about as much as the recipient enjoys receiving correction – that would be, not at all. It is often very difficult for a leader to confront a person they cover with something that is chronically or seriously wrong. Sometimes it gets easier to address the more it comes up, and sometimes it doesn’t, but no good leader enjoys running around, correcting people. The Bible provides an important balance in leadership, however: both correction and encouragement are needed to produce a good leader. If someone is out of line, they are out of line – and that has to be addressed. If someone is having a hard time, down, or doing really well in their tasks, they need to be encouraged. A leader who does all of one or all of the other without finding the needed balance of both is missing the true purpose of leadership and the relevance that both correction and encouragement edify a true leader.
9. Guide you within accountability and order – The Word has given us necessary guidelines as pertain to accountability and order. As your first and often primary experience of accountability, your leader should understand their unique role as being someone to whom you can be accountable. We don’t often think of accountability as a matter of trust, but in many ways, it is just that. By standing as a voice of authority in your life, your covering should be someone you can talk to about anything, without the fear of judgment. They should be interested in seeing you grow and change, from glory to glory and faith to faith, as you transform and mature in your calling. When you come to them with a problem, a fault, or an issue, a covering should move in correction, and provide guidance on how to move past the situation at hand unto a place of truth and restoration. The goal of accountability and order is both understanding one’s own position
10. Listen – People today like to talk – way too much. I meet many leaders who use the people they cover as sounding-boards for their own problems. Not only is this totally inappropriate, it is also an awkward situation to be put in by a leader. It is true that sometimes God shows us something or we discover something about a leader, and that in addition to being called into prayer, our leader may reveal to us about what we have discovered. This is different than just unloading a bunch of problems where they don’t go. Your covering should listen when you have something to say, and offer guidance as necessary.
11. Provide security and confidence – The callings we have in ministry are not easy. Being in ministry means ministers face unique challenges as pertain to their office and that can encompass an entire spectrum of different issues. Your covering should be one to affirm your calling (after God has first called you to it) and one who can provide a strong confidence in you as you walk through the calling you have. This means on the days you feel like you shouldn’t be in ministry, your leader should be one to encourage and shake you into reality, making you realize how important this work is.
12. Love you – Sometimes people miscommunicate, feelings can get hurt, and things need to be clarified. Beyond this, your leader should walk in love and seek the best for you. The bottom of the whole matter? If your covering doesn’t walk in love and display that love toward you, your covering is never going to do for you what you need.
(c) 2013 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved. From “Ministry School Bootcamp,” Published by Righteous Pen Publications, Inc.