This is Oneida: Learn to follow before learning to lead

By Larry Gritton

Published: September 1, 2019

One of the objectives of our ministry's work is to train Christian leaders, and nothing does my heart more good than to cross paths with former students who are living and working for the Lord. Jesus said, "Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Jesus chose, called and equipped the common men and women of His day, but we must first learn to follow before we can learn to lead. We provide structure and we hope that all of our students will ultimately adhere to our structure, because it is for their own good and will hopefully lead to a life of service for each of them.

Larry Gritton

When I consider leadership, I tend to think of servanthood. Jesus was a servant leader, and each of us tasked with leading should follow Jesus' leadership model. Leading well involves encouraging others to follow Jesus and His commands.

Oneida has been blessed with many servant leaders throughout our 120-year history. We recently saw one of those servant leaders earn his eternal reward. For two decades, Mr. Dan Midkiff served humbly and tirelessly in the Oneida ministry.

Submitted photo

Dan & Pattie Midkiff

Mr. Midkiff played baseball at the University of Kentucky, served our country, oversaw massive property and cattle operations in Texas, and did so much with his life. Perhaps, though, the Lord saved the best for last as Dan served faithfully in our ministry in his latter years. He was always willing to help, yet never imposed. He was a talented, brilliant, gifted and resourceful man, yet when I think of Mr. Midkiff I ultimately think of servant leadership. He had a servant's heart and spirit. He was a friend to anyone and everyone who ever crossed his Oneida pathway. He was my friend and a great support to me, and I will miss him.

It takes many amazing people like Mr. Midkiff working behind the scenes to make the Oneida ministry thrive. Those faithful, behind-the-scenes servants don't often get thanked by students. They don't often receive a pat on the back, yet they faithfully serve and lead by example. I know the Lord raises up new servant leaders for our work. He always has and I believe always will. It takes a special person to serve at Oneida, and it takes an especially humble and gifted person to serve long-term in our ministry. Please pray for our faithful servants as we begin a new school year.

The best way to teach our students to become leaders is to teach them how to follow Jesus Christ, the ultimate servant leader.

Larry Gritton is president of Oneida Baptist Institute in Oneida, Ky.