Leadership Learnings: Martin McNeely

Dr Martin McNeely is the minister of Ballykeel Presbyterian Church in Ballymena. He has recently successfully completed his doctorate with Reformed Theological Seminary. I dare say his love of surfing means he’s glad to be in Ballymena which is not too far from the north coast!


I asked Marty for the most important thing he has learned in leadership and how he has learned it. I don’t know if it has to do with Presbyterian sabbatarianism, but he came up with seven!

Been thinking about this a lot. I would say

1. The most important thing I have learned (via Jack Miller) is to repent. I severely underestimated the ability of my pride and sin at the start of ministry. I also severely underestimated the patience of Jesus in ministry. So repenting of that, and continuing to repent and be aware of sin has been the single biggest thing I have learned in leadership. Allied to that has been the importance of:

2. Praying my way through change, especially loving ‘difficult’ people and seeing the best in them.

3. Building an encouraging team through prayer and having a vision for that.

4. Ongoing learning and reading and regular sabbatical.

5. Lots of leisure time: surfing, rugby coaching.

6. Early morning, regular devotionals.

7. Regular pastoral contact with the flock and the fringe.

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