Life Lesson 146 ~ Family Leadership

"Christ is the head of our house, The unseen guest at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation."  ~ Unknown

When you think of leadership what comes to mind? The leader of a country, a sports figure, maybe it's a job title or a position? So how often does the word family come to mind when we think of leadership? Probably not as much as it should right?. I mean someone has to be the leader, guiding and steering our families through adversity and hardship right? What about our dreams or our efforts and accomplishments, who spearheads those endeavors? There's usually someone behind us or beside us rallying, lifting us up and motivating each of us to push past what we see as our limits right? In every family there's at least one person who takes the reins.  That's leadership...where the buck stops, the fault lands and the liability for all decisions good or bad when push comes to shove. Now that said leadership can be in a more traditional sense where the father is the head of the household or it can land anywhere in-between as well. Now before anyone gets themselves in a tizzy or has a conniption fit as we say down here in the South, let me be clear what I'm talkin' about. If we are being honest with our reality today examining family leadership, we know it can come to us in many ways.. as a single mom guiding her children or it can be much like our home where we lead together as a unit, as a united, unified team. As parents, as a husband and a wife raising our boys Johnny and I have had to learn together,  "a true leader is one who is humble enough to admit their mistakes." And let me tell you, we have made our share of those along the way. If either one of us were to tell you we were perfect, rather than fair to middlin', that we hadn't made our share of mistakes or a bad decision a time or two or hundred during our 20 years as parents, then I've absolutely got a bridge to sell you. The honest -to- goodness truth about being a leader as states, especially in a family is knowing "a good leader is a good servant."

I can tell you Johnny and I know without a doubt our leadership training has come on the job. Nothing about being a parent is easy. Well that's not necessarily true. There is one exception to that rule. And what is this one deviation you ask? Well we've found it's in the way we love our children completely and unconditionally as parents. The reality in being a mom and dad, as leaders of our family is we have to understand a few simple truths. The first one is in exercising our humility not as the 'the boss' but as servants.. I personally love the way Higher Perspective imparts the differences between being a leader and a boss to us. "A boss: demands, relies on authority, issues ultimatums, says, "I", uses people, takes credit, places blame, says, "go",  and last ,my way is the only way. A Leader : coaches, relies on goodwill, generates enthusiasm, says, "we", develops people, gives credit, accepts blame, says, "let's go", realizes there's strength in unity."  This kinda reminds me of Philippians 2:3-4, " Don't act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves. Don't be concerned only about your own interests. but also be concerned about the interests of others." You see as parents, the responsibility to lead our children comes to us.  We are accountable to God for how we instruct and prepare our children. As husbands and wives our job is to put God first, and in doing that our family thrives. True to the point, as Donald Walters states, "Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance."

Leading our families, is not an easy task, and anyone who says it is, needs a reality check. In a world of social media, easy access to anything and everyone how do we lead by example without falling flat on our faces? It was hard enough on our parents and grandparents, but the world we live in today more than challenges our ability as parents to lead our families. I think more than ever before we have to be willing to allow our kids to be themselves. We're not here to produce little carbon copies of ourselves or followers, no we're charged with raising our children to be leaders in their own right. As parents and as a team leading our family together Johnny and I have done our best to model what Marvin J. Ashton speaks of. "Be one who nurtures and builds. Be one who has an understanding and forgiving heart. Who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them." The thing Johnny and I have learned, is our children already have greatness in them. God put it there. It's not our job to carve it out of them, to make them great or noteworthy. No it's our responsibility to simply help drawl that same God given greatness out of them. It's funny so many times through the years we've been told we have amazing kids, how strong, kind and genuine they are. And  yes as amazing as that is to hear, Johnny and I know it's not because of anything we have done, but what God has done through us. See as parents and partners in the raising of our children it's our job to encourage, them not to withhold it just because they're different from us. It's just not all about us as parents, and it's not a my way or the highway mentality either. Discipline yes, rules absolutely, but a dictatorship, no. Our roles as leaders are to bring the best out in those we love, and in this case our children. It's not to have them fearing for or questioning our love for them. We can be proud of our kids, but it's not our job to ride their coat tales. What I know from experience is this: Parents who lead with love and direction aren't the ones clipping their kids wings but providing them a runway to take off from. These kind of parents lead in life and in their families but they don't take credit for talents, abilities and achievements that aren't theirs. They simply provide the means for their children to get there. Bottom line, parent leadership isn't just a title or a position Being a real family leader means we lead with humility, and we don't take credit for things we didn't do alone.

"The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold but not bully; be thoughtful but not lazy; be humble but not timid; be proud but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly." (Jim Rohn) This is honestly one of the best paraphrased versions of Ephesians 6:4 I can think of.  It says this, "Fathers, don't exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master." And what we as parents need to understand is our children have been given to us for a short time. In those years we have to learn not only to trust them but to learn to trust God as well. Leading means trusting. The reality is we may not always agree with everything our kids believe, how they think or what they do but that's the beauty of trust. If you trust that you've done your part, showed them the way, guided and encouraged them, and given your children the right tools, they will succeed. The other side of trust is this, if we believe the Word of God to be true, then we have no other choice but to trust Him. Doesn't matter which path they take if you have raised them and led them with love and humility, then you have nothing to fear. Proverbs 22:6 reminds us of this, point your kids in the right direction --- when they're old they won't be lost."

 As I say often to my family, "What's comin' will come and we'll meet it when it does." That's how I see life, and the truth of leadership. We can spend our days fretting or we can spend them trusting the One who has already led and prepared the way. The truth is Life Lesson #146 ~ Family Leadership, is not about me, or my husband, it's not even about our children and all they have planned. No, today's life lesson is solely about the One who was led to the Cross and then led us to His Father's saving grace. I'm thankful for the ability not only to lead but to serve my family with my husband, by his side.  I encourage you to take these words with you as you go today from Psalms 25: 5. This scripture is where my hope and my heart are grounded daily. "Take me by the hand; Lead me down the path of truth. You are my Savior , aren't You?" My Savior indeed.

"Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence." ~ Sheryl Sandberg



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