What Pastor Clayton Baird Taught Me About Leadership

Clayton Baird

I have been privileged to serve as a leader in my church for almost 11 years now. During this time, I’ve seen thousands of lives impacted and changed; my own life included. It’s been an honor to serve alongside high level leaders/pastors; and to learn from them along the way. With that said, this post is about a specific pastor that I served with named Clayton Baird.

For two years, I had the opportunity to serve under Clayton Baird’s leadership. I will say this about Clayton, he is an amazing pastor, but an even more amazing leader. Recently I was going through my notes from the 2 years that he was leading the ministry that we were part of together. I learned more about leadership from Clayton during these 2 years than I ever had before!

Today, straight from my iPhone notes, I want to share my top 10 favorite leadership principles that I learned from Clayton Baird:

1. Walk in Humility

Humility in leadership is like a timeless piece of clothing; it is always in style. Humble leaders wear an attitude of gratitude. God doesn’t make leaders; God makes humble servants that turn into leaders.

2. Don’t Seek Promotion

All promotion comes from God. You do what is right for the right reasons, and He will do the rest. God sees the labor of your hands; even if no one else does.

3. Lead Yourself First

Jesus led himself by getting to that quiet place to receive from God. Our relationship with God needs to be the focus in leading ourselves. Are people inspired to follow God by watching the way you live?

4. Develop Culture

In your life, you will have what you allow. Culture is not found, it is built. If you are missing something in your life, whether in business or ministry, you cannot just wish for it, you must take ownership to build (develop) the atmosphere that you desire.

5. Build Your Platform

Great leaders don’t inherit big platforms they build them. We need to give our best in what we are doing. What you do today is what causes your platform to grow.

WHAT MAKES A TRUE LEADER? Read the post: A Leader Is One Who Knows the Way Goes the Way and Shows the Way

6. Focus on The Team

Teamwork makes the dream work! Good leadership isn’t about advancing yourself it’s about advancing the team. The best teams are made up of a bunch of nobodies that love everyone. When people feel liked, cared for, trusted and encouraged, they’ll work together. Be creative in how you encourage others on your team.

7. Empower Others

Good leaders become great because of their ability to empower others, not themselves. Ask yourself, “How can I empower others to step up?” Empowering others is key in great leadership. Empower others to take ownership and to lead in their own way, not in your way.

8. Always Cast Vision

Don’t expect people to know the vision; always vocalize it. Cast vision all the time! Make sure the team feels valued within the vision. You must care for people before they will hear the vision. People will buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.

9. Duplicate Yourself

Leaders are measured by the caliber of leaders they develop, not by their own leadership. Are you duplicating yourself? Replace yourself before you ever leave a position.

10. Be Passionate

Passion causes people to bring excellence. Passion will cause you to overcome any obstacle in your path toward success. Single mindedness on a team comes from passion. 3 Things passion brings: Passion brings purpose. Passion brings vision. Passion brings a ‘can-do’ attitude.

Humility in leadership is like a timeless piece of clothing; it is always in style. Click to Tweet

Clayton Baird didn’t just teach these principles that I have listed, he modeled them for the entire team that served with him. I learned how to really walk in these leadership principles by observing the way Clayton lived, not by listening to him! Clayton is now serving as a lead pastor at a growing church in Northern Ireland and I know that he is modeling what it means to be a true leader to the people around him.

Are you someone who knows Clayton? Has God used him to impact your life? Please comment below!

Written by Alex Sanfilippo

My mission is to live a life honorable in every way to God my father. I am passionate about building disciples and strengthening the church. My daily goal is to be a positive influence on the people around me and to make the world a better place.

27 thoughts on “What Pastor Clayton Baird Taught Me About Leadership

  1. Pingback: Lead Like Jesus
  2. Awesome article about one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. I’ve been fortunate to be around many great leaders in both business and ministry and I can confidently say that Pastor Clay is the BEST leader I’ve ever known. Its rare to find someone who is so incredibly humble, yet has such profound influence on those that surround them. Definitely miss him big time but I’m positive that NI has been and will continue to be changed for the better because of Pastor Clays presence there. We love you P Clay!

  3. I loved what you said about “passion” in this post. Pastor Clay certainly modeled no matter what area of ministry, whether he was preaching on stage to thousands or just speaking to one person. It was contagious, and I think a huge part of why he was so successful as the Sub 30 pastor, and will continue to be successful wherever God chooses to use him. So grateful for Pastor Clays incredible example of passionately pursuing our King in every area of life!

  4. Thanks Clay for being real and helping people see Jesus and not religion. Thanks for being in NI, obviously close to our hearts. Keep using that soccer ball to spread his love!

  5. Miss Pastor Clay and Beth so much!!! I have notes filled in my phone of all the awesome messages that he preached!! I use them as my quiet time and reflect of what I learned from those messages! He is a great example as a leader and it was truly an honor to sit and learn from his wisdom and knowledge of life and how to be a great leader no matter where you are in your walk with God, Thank you Pastor Clay for always making me want to go deeper and learn more about the Bible. Pastor Clay preached many messages about being a great leader and one thing that stuck with me that he said once is “Leadership is not about the position you want to be in, it’s about who are you becoming in the process” this is one quote that will stick with me for life. Seriously love you Pastor Clay and Beth you two are truly HIDDEN HEROS, that is another great message he preached out of the many, “We need hidden HEROS that don’t need the credit” he forsure don’t seek after credit but he is leaving a legacy all over the world! I can’t wait to see and here about all the people he is gonna save in Ireland, I really hope ireland knows they have a great family, Pray for y’all often and one day the Kernohan will come visit!!

  6. This dude Clayton Baird…. first and foremost, he has changed the way I lead, study, pray and the way I look at Ministry. Being able to sit under his leadership for the time that I did has been SUCH a blessing to me and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t haven’t been close to being ready to step into the Sub30 pastor role had I not learned from the best! I never wake up striving to fill the shoes left behind (mainly because my foot is way bigger than his) but also because his level of excellence in leadership would take a lifetime to fill, rather I just strive to lead well and fall more in love with God’s word the way he did and still does!

    His passion to see people’s lives changed by the gospel and his passion for developing leaders is absolutely next level. All of us here back in Jacksonville have been beyond blessed to be under such great leadership but those over in the U.K. have so much more blessing on the way. Europe isn’t ready for how God is gonna use the Baird’s!

    So thankful to call you a great friend and pastor, you’re the man! Love you Clayton Baird! We miss you and your family!!

  7. Wow.
    This is so good!
    I was listening to a leadership podcast from Craig Groeschel and all these characteristics/traits line up precisely with what he was teaching. And in my opinion, if your leadership and your ability to teach others is anything like that dudes, you are on the right track!!

    AKA Clay is the man and so are you, Alex, for writing this message!

  8. Feel like I could write a book on this, but a comment on an extremely well written and honest post will have to do for now.

    To say Pastor Clayton Baird was a great leader is maybe the understatement of the century. He did truly model and teach in a way that made you want to follow. There is not a moment that went by that I didn’t feel like I learned something from him. Not just how he lead a serving team or a growing ministry in a church, but how I grew to know him as an amazing leader of his own family with his wife and son. Watching him develop and learn a new leadership style as a father was incredible and it is something I have tucked away for when it is pertinent to me later in life.

    I agree with Alex, that there a few leaders that I have been around that compare to what Pastor Clay taught me. I am hopeful that I get the honor and privilege of finding more servants like him and prayign that I will be one myself one day.

    Side note…the only place he was not a good leader was on the golf course where he lost many leads against me in his time here! BOOM!

  9. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Pastor Clay, but I do miss sitting under the teaching that God placed on his heart every Wednesday and then Sunday at sub30, and on occasion Sunday morning service. Everyone is Northern Ireland is so blessed to be able to learn from all that God has placed on his heart and in his hands. God has surely blessed him with knowledge and wisdom.

  10. I don’t even feel like I really know Clay as well as many others here, but what I do know about him has greatly affected both myself and my family. We came to Celebration after initially moving to Jax to help plant a church (which has since disbanded). Initially showing up I know that I personally was really broken and bruised from the church plant disbanding and also from wounds from being a youth pastor and other things that fell apart. While we were visiting Sub30 deciding if this is where my then fiancée and I wanted to plant ourselves, one night Pastor Clay preached a message where I remember him saying “I feel like tonight I’m supposed to put the fight back into some of you.” I remember feeling like “This is me.” I look over at my fiancée with tears down her face and knew that this was it, we found our home.

    We get married and end up having twins (yay), and throughout the whole pregnancy Pastor Clay was always asking me how she is doing and how I’m doing and about the babies’ development. After they were born and we were able to bring them out into public, Pastor Clay found me after Sub30 one night and said “I’m really glad to see you. Can I see your wife and kids?” In that moment, I realized : “Wow. This dude remembers my family and I.” Celebration is a huge church with a ton of people, but Pastor Clay showed his love to my family and I by remembering us, asking us how we’re doing, and always showing that he was interested in us and cared. His messages, along with other amazing people at the church and the Holy Spirit have since really helped to put back into my heart a passion for God, and my wife and I have always stated how much we really love our church. Part of the reason that Celebration ever became our church was because of Pastor Clay, his fervor for Jesus, desire for the truth of the Word, and his attitude towards my family and kids. So, thank you Pastor Clay, for helping to be the example that let down my guard, and let my family and I feel apart of a church that we now feel as family. Bless you man, and hope to see you and your family again soon!

  11. When I think about a true man of God who has dedicated his life to following, preaching and proclaiming the word of the Lord, I think of Pastor Clay. This man is an amazing communicator, has an amazing heart for people, a great selfie taker (important to me :)) and all around a disciple of God.

    When I first joined Celebration almost 4 years ago, I didn’t know what a #Sub30 was. Then when I started to get involved and in leadership, I quickly learned how impactful Pastor Clay was for the entire church.

    Just recently I was re-reading one of his messages The Bounce. This message was so perfectly illustrated from the fall, the impact, the restoration and the elevation that not a single person was untouched by the purpose of that sermon. Pastor Clay has a heart for the young and the old and has a way of connecting people together in a way that I had never seen before.

    You are loved and you are missed Pastor Clay!

  12. I went to Sub30 for the first time 2 years ago and Pastor Clay was standing greeting everyone at the front doors and then I saw him on the stage and I was so surprised that a pastor would be the one greeting. He also taught me so much about humility and teamwork. We aren’t successful with out community and he was always highlighting his support system that helped him be who he was. Clay taught me so much the last 2 years and I wouldn’t be the leader I am without his awesome leadership.

  13. Official crying like a baby. Haha.

    Words alone will NEVER be able to express the gratitude and appreciation I have for each and every one of the people who have commented on this thread. And thank you Alex for being generous and so kind to even mention me in the first place.

    The years gone by at Sub30 in JAX are legitametly the fondest memories of ministry I have ever had. The team God assembled and the amazing people that joined the services week in and week out were incredible! Over the course of a few years being able to see so many individuals find salvation in Christ and purpose in life was the most fulfilling thing to be a part of! The team was so strong, dedicated, passionate, looking out for one another… and we had FUN along the way! Building the kingdom is hard work, but it’s always so much fun when you do it alongside people you love!

    The simple “I miss you guys” doesn’t even come close to the depth of genuine void I have from not being around all these people that I love so much. WE MISS YOU DEARLY!

    When we are back in JAX this spring I say team dinner at MShack again!!!! Alex is paying!!!! YESSSSSS!!!!! LOL

    In the meantime, just know that you ALL are thought of, loved, believed in, and prayed for always! Can’t wait to hug your necks and see you soon! I honor you all!

    Life is so much less about WHAT we do in the kingdom, and so much more about WHO we do it with.

    Friendships make the journey amazing!

    And my journey is constantly blessed by all of you.

    Cheers! (a little UK for you right there) ha

  14. To me, Pastor Clay embodies what it means to be a servant leader. His passion to love people and live authentically are obvious and his teachings are so on point! I subscribe to the Northern Ireland podcast just to hear him 🙂 I’m so thankful that I was able to be under his leadership the last two years at sub 30.

    Clay and Bethany, thank you for your obedience, kindness, and love. Know that we’re as your sub 30 and celebration family are always praying for you and though we miss you greatly, are excited for all that God is doing through you.

  15. Clay was and is a great leader to serve under and alongside He always has a vision for the future but always gives his all in the present moment, never losing sight of the task at hand. He is truly a great example of humble leadership and faithfully speaking the word of God. Thanks for your heart and dedication to the Kingdom of God!

  16. Where do I even start ?

    Pastor Clay has made me a better person. Just having the joy of being under his leadership and hearing his heart for God has helped me so much! I remember when he was the Fuse Pastor a few years back, every message he spoke in that season taught me about the essence of God and how I could encounter him. At the time I had been hurt by church and by youth leaders and Pastor Clay showed me that there were genuine leaders that loved God and that could in turn lead me in a healthy way. I am beyond thankful to know him and to have sat under his teachings for a few years. He has equipped me with practical tools for my walk with God and I am forever thankful!

    I also adore his wife Bethany???? She was my mentor back in the Fuse days and I was SO much of a hot mess lol. She helped me to embrace my uniqueness while growing in my weaknesses. Her loving heart and intelligent mind was a breathe of fresh air to be around.

    Thank you so much Pastor Clay & Bethany for being my leaders. Thank you for being who you are! I am forever thankful to have been graced by your influence! I know that you are changing the world over there in the green land lol. I wish you both and Jude all the blessing in world ???? – Vanessa Reed

  17. Oh my goodness, Pastor Clayton Baird!! Where to even begin?! My phone is flooded with notes from messages he’s spoken, random quotes he has said, and many meeting where he personally invested in so many! “Your faith should be an outlook, the posture that you hold day in and day out. Faith will command you to do what you cannot do. The order of faith is response and then restoration.” He always left us with something to think about, some challenge of how to be a better leader, Christian, and person! One of my best memories, is knowing just days before he and his family would be leaving for Northern Ireland and just hours before having to drive to Orlando to speak at church, he came way out to the country, to officiate my wedding! His wife Bethany has the sweetest demeanor and the most giving heart! Clayton has such an incredible heart for people and for the Lord! I pray God blesses him and his family one hundred fold for the way they have blessed so many!

  18. Such a great article Alex! Man. Pastor Clay is phenomenal preacher of God’s word, and I have been inspired countless times by his heart to serve, humility, and passion for the church!! Sub30 was the first ministry at Celebration that my husband and I got involved with, and we grew so much just from the loving culture and heart for God there – I know that Pastor Clay had so much to do with that! He’s an example of what true leadership is and it’s so apparent that he truly cares for the people God has called him to lead. God has great things in store and N. Ireland is truly blessed to have him!!

  19. Ah! Emotionally rollercoaster for me right now because I truly miss Clay’s leadership! He and his wife Bethany spoke life, encouragement and value into my life when I needed it most. He leads with such excellence and he made sure that he developed his team (sub30 key team) and so many others I’m sure, into the leaders we are today. I personally learned from him that, “Great leaders CONNECT with their teams.” It’s so much more than just coming in to serve along side your team every week, but getting to know them, their likes and dislikes, history, past, and things they’ve over come make all the difference in the way you serve together; because now you’re serving with family and not just acquaintances. I am so thankful for the time under Clay’s leadership and teaching, the Baird’s have been the biggest blessings in my life and I will ALWAYS support them and their ministry. Love you Ps. Clay, Beth and Jude, see you guys so soon!

  20. Pastor Clay was the one who led me to Jesus and saved me! I cannot begin to thank him enough for all the wisdom and encouraging messages he has delivered. In a time where I was battling depression and thoughts of suicide Pastor Clay showed me how loving and forgiving Jesus is. Thank you Pastor Clay!!!

  21. The great thing about Pastor Clay is that he never taught anything that he did not model every day. It was a privilege to get to serve under him- I learned and grew more during that season than any other. Jealous of the N. Ireland Campus, but grateful for all the messages, prayer and conversations that I was able to be a part of. Thanks Pastor Clay!

  22. Great post and all so true! Pastor Clay is a wonderful leader and friend! When he preaches, he makes us feel like he is just talking WITH us and not talking “down to us”. He walks through life’s ups and downs with us together. We know he and Bethany are doing great things in Ireland, but we miss them so much!

  23. Definitely miss having Clay in Jax! His messages were always so applicable and I was often able to share timely online recordings of them with friends who don’t live nearby. Northern Ireland is fortunate to have him!

  24. LOVED THIS! Pastor Clay inspired me so much in my time under his leadership. I will never forget when he hosted a communicators workshop and showed us how he prays before he preaches. To see someone with so much leadership and influence almost brought to tears as he exemplified what a heart should look like and be prepared for before receiving a microphone was eye opening. He has a true passion to preach Gods word but an even bigger passion to be a man after Gods own heart! Thankful for the time you spent pouring into the next generation here in Jacksonville, it changed many lives!

  25. Clay has made a huge impact on my life when first getting to Jacksonville. He portrayed passion and an authentic God-fearing lifestyle which made me look up to him, get plugged in to serve, and be a part of whatever he was leading..

    I can’t imagine it being easy getting up and moving to a foreign country with a family and several unknown factors, but I have no doubt that the journey God has him in is just beginning and he’ll continue to do great things for the kingdom!

  26. Great post Alex! Aside from P Clay teaching me all of those things, he also taught me a lot about honor— I learned the importance of honoring authority, honoring the vision of the house, and honoring the team I lead. I’ve learned most of my best leadership traits directly from him! Celebration NIR is blessed to have the BAIRDS although JAX misses them!!! P Clay, you’re one of the best!!

  27. I’ll go first… On a personal level, Clayton has always been a great friend in my life and has helped me develop into the leader that I am today. Clay has been a like a brother to me. I certainly miss having him in Jacksonville Florida!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.