Raising our kids to be leaders


He threw his full weight on the couch, slouching into the leather. Arms crossed, he groaned, “I don’t want to go. I’m tired of going.” He continued listing all the complaints he held about attending his running class that evening.

My hand pulled a quick zipping motion across my lips and my eyes sent a clear message about what I wanted him to stop doing that very moment.

“What? I just….”

“Nope. Stop right there. We will continue this is private. I’ll meet you upstairs.”

“Am I in trouble or something?”

“Nope, just wait for me upstairs.”

The two younger brothers stared back at me. They had running shoes on, water bottles filled, and suddenly their excitement seemed to fade away. I offered a quick smile, told them to play, and I’d be back in a bit.

I sat on the bed and faced my 11-year-old, Jacob. In his eyes, I see such a strength of character, such a heart for God, such tenderness holds guard around that heart.

I always start by assuring him I’m not upset (when I’m not).

“Jacob, you didn’t choose to be a leader, but God chose you to be a leader.”

His eyes raised. Curiosity awakened, so I continued.

“To be a leader doesn’t mean you simply choose to be a leader. Sometimes you don’t have a choice in whether you are a leader or not. Your only choice is whether you will lead well. Will you be a good leader or a bad leader.”

“List for me some leaders that come to mind.”
He rattled off some well-known great leaders. I reminded him of some poor leaders. Then I reminded him of some leaders that became leaders simply because others began to look up to them.

Each of us has been created with roles to lead and roles to follow. We were created by God to follow. To follow Him. We are His sheep. He is our Shepard. At the same time, He gave us dominion over creation, we rule over it. And in those roles, we will often have people who look to us to lead them in their roles.

We may be a leader at home, a follower of our teacher at school, a leader of our friends on the playground, a follower of our older friends in the neighborhood.

We are both leaders and followers. Our choice is what kind of leader we will be and what kind of follower we will be. In that conversation we focused on leading.

“Jacob, you didn’t choose to be a leader of your brothers. God chose that you were the firstborn brother. By that given right, you were placed in a leadership position. Your choice is how you will lead. Do you want to be a good leader or a bad leader?”

“Of course, good, mom.”

“Do you remember how God described the Israelites as they wandered through the wilderness on their way to the promised land?”

“They were grumblers and complainers.”

“What happened to them? When they reached the promised land, how many entered and how many were not allowed to enter?”

“Like 2 million got there, but only Joshua and Caleb got to enter.”

“What do you notice about Joshua and Caleb that is different than the other Israelites?”

“The Israelites grumbled all the time. Joshua and Caleb didn’t.”

“One thing I want to point out about Caleb, he kept his focus on God. The Israelites focused on their circumstances. When we focus on God, we can lead well, we can follow well. When we focus on ourselves and our circumstances, we can become grumblers who can’t lead or follow. Look how negativity and complaining spread like wildfire. It took over the camp. It infected all but 2 people! It’s a nasty disease, which at its root is ingratitude, selfishness, and pride.”

“Your brothers, whether you like it or not, look to you to lead them. They adore you. They love you to pieces. They look to you to guide them. They base their likes and dislikes on yours. They are following your lead. When you stop liking something, so do they. When you complain, so do they. When you talk negatively about a person or situation, they start looking for the bad as well. On the flip side, when you point out something positive you took notice of, they take notice of the good around them to.”

His slouching shoulders straightened.

“Don’t worry. This role God gave you isn’t hard. It shouldn’t stress you out. Really all you have to do is be like Caleb. The Lord described Caleb as having a different kind of spirit, one who followed him with his whole heart. It all boils down to loving God with our whole heart. When we do that, leading become easy.”

To be a good leader, we have to be a better follower. We have to follow God with our whole heart. Then we will be a leader we could never be on our own.

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As a mom, if I plan to lead my kids well, I have to follow God better.

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I have to follow with my whole heart as I pray my children can do the same.

Lord, bless our children with a different spirit that is able to follow you wholeheartedly. Despite the voice of fear that mocks them, let them charge forward knowing you lead the way. Rise up a new generation of children who passionately follow you because Your truth is planted so deeply in their souls that following you isn’t a struggle. Use them to lead well those who follow them. And use them to lead those people straight into your arms.

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