The Oreo Method

Do you like Oreos? What is your favorite part? My favorite Oreos are the golden ones- the crispy outer shell and that sugary cream center. Leadership is a lot like Oreos. No, leadership is not crunchy on the outside and smooth on the inside. But, they do have more similarities than you would think.

An Oreo is made up of three parts- the two cookie shells and the one cream filling. Leadership is also made up of three parts just like an Oreo. One time, I taught about how we can lead like Jesus if we are focusing on leadership as an Oreo. (As a bonus, everyone in the group got to enjoy Oreos too!). But the point of it is, how are we stewarding each part of leadership? Each part represents a portion: 1) Who are you investing in? 2) Who is investing in you? and 3) How are you leading yourself well?

Many leadership authors and experts like John Maxwell, Jenni Catron, and David Buehring have described a healthy definition of leadership as always pouring out to others simultaneously to someone pouring into you.

And my guess is that you said your favorite part is the cream based filling. That’s the most important part because the cream filling represents you! You are the cream filling- how you fill yourself, grow yourself, and lead yourself is crucial to how you lead others and are filled by others. If you ignore the center, leading yourself well, you’ll be empty and won’t be able to receive or give. (And it is no longer an Oreo if there is not a filling.) Have you ever been there? I have. The Oreo method can help you cultivate some of the healthiest styles of leadership. So today, I have three encouraging points for you:

Invest: (The cookie part) 

Who are you investing in? Who are you giving your time to? Who are you discipling? Pastor Heather Zempel at National Community Church always says, “Your discipling should extend to the third and fourth generation.”

Be Filled: (The cookie part) 

Who is investing in you personally? Do you have someone who you can go to anytime with the joys or the complications of leadership? Is there someone in your life who has permission to call you out or call you up to a greater level of leadership? Growing and developing is a challenge, so who is helping you work on your gifts and character simultaneously so that both are sustainable long term?

Lead Yourself Well: (The cream filling) 

How are you leading yourself well? What practical things can you apply today that will make you a healthier leader tomorrow? Jenni Catron says, “Lead yourself well so that you can lead others better.” Sometimes, the best test to determine the health of your leadership is to ask the people who you are leading. What do I do well? What is a growth area? Spend some time this week reflecting on your leadership style. Are you who you want to be as a leader? Would you follow someone like you?

Leadership is like an Oreo. If one of the three pieces isn’t present, it is no longer an Oreo the way it was designed to be.

Now, treat yourself. Go eat some Oreos, and as my friend Jenni Catron says, “Continue to lead yourself well!”


  • Kiersten Telzerow

    Kiersten Telzerow lives in the Washington, D.C area with her husband, Matt, and their goldendoodle named Luna! Kiersten serves as the Small Group Director at one of the campuses at National Community Church and is a Master of Divinity student at Wesley Seminary through Indiana Wesleyan University. She loves being in community with people and learning about their stories. When Kiersten is not studying, her favorite thing to do is spending time with family and friends, trying new coffees, attending leadership conferences, or reading a new book. She loves all things small groups and believes that we were never meant to exist alone - community is always better!

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Daniel Thomas

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Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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