Five Tips to Raising Godly Leaders
Raising children is a hard task. It’s wonderful and difficult and humbling all at the same time. I’m convinced more praying is done by parents trying to survive the day, much less 18 years, of raising another human into a well-adjusted, healthy, happy adult! And to raise a leader? So much the harder.
But we’re not talking about just raising any leader… we want to raise godly leaders. People who will stand up for what’s right, follow the moral compass God has instilled in us, and take the road less travelled. But what does that entail?
#1 Lead by Example
- How many times have we done or said something we wished we hadn’t, only to have our child repeat the phrase or behavior? Proof positive that they are watching and following our example… always! This can also be a positive thing. Model the behaviors and traits you want them to emulate.
- Want them to have a good relationship with God? Let them see you reading your Bible or praying and discussing important issues from a godly perspective.
- Want them to care for the “least of these?” Let them see you, or better yet, invite them along.
If you’re in a position of authority, let them see the way you treat others, both above and below you on the organizational chart. They’ll remember. They’ll repeat those lessons you’ve shown.
#2 Invest in Their Confidence
There are so many ways to pour into your child’s self-esteem. But so much of how your child sees themselves is a reflection of how you see them. Speak positively (though not insincerely) into their lives. Call out the good things God has put in them. Foster and water and help grow those giftings. Encourage them to be bold and try new things… even at the risk of failing.
Even learning to fail can help their self-confidence (“See? You didn’t completely fall apart or lose who you are when ____ didn’t work out the way you’d hoped.”)
Provide opportunities and encourage what they can become instead of speaking limitations and obstacles. (“You’re not smart enough to become a lawyer,” or, “You’re not tall enough / good enough to play that sport.”) Maybe they’ll fail. Maybe they’ll learn they don’t have the talent or skill set.
Instead, you can be honest while still being supportive (“You’re going to have to work twice as hard as the others, but if you want to try, I’ve got your back!”)
Empowering your child, whether in decision making or problem solving, will serve them well the rest of their lives. You don’t want to cripple your child by making every choice for them so they never learn how to decide. Nor do you want to rescue or protect your child so much that they never learn how to solve problems on their own. Empower them in age-appropriate manners.
- Allow them to choose their clothes… and experience consequences (such as weather) accordingly. They’ll learn!
- Empower them to choose (and eventually) make their own lunch (within safe structure). “Make sure you have protein, a veggie or fruit, some sort of carb and a non-sugary drink.”
- If they are having an issue with completing assignments or chores in a timely manner, ask for their input in a solution.
- Is your child having issues with another kid? Get their insight! “Why do you think this is happening? What do you think should be done? Would you like me to give you my opinion or step in, or do you want to try to resolve this healthily on your own first?”
A servant leader, one who thinks no one is “beneath” him or her, one who is willing to roll up their sleeves and work shoulder to shoulder on the grinding work to ensure an organization thrives, is the leader everyone hopes to work for. So why not raise one? Raise the person you’d like leading your company! And that begins in childhood.
Let your child see you serve your spouse and be served by your spouse. Demonstrate a “we” not “me” mentality. This can be lived at home as well as in the community at large. Volunteer at a food pantry or animal shelter. Visit the forgotten or elderly at a VA or nursing home. Make cards for shut-ins from your church or a child sick from school.
Teach your child to think of others first and how they can practically walk out the admonition of “love your neighbor.”
I can’t tell you how many times my older son will say something and instantly have it repeated by his little brothers. And fair or not, just like our kids are watching and listening to us, the younger ones are following the examples of the older ones. Older kids set the example. Reminding them that their behavior affects the behavior of others is a life skill that will follow them out of the home and into the world, for better or for worse.
This also comes into play with learning to negotiate. Three kids want to watch three different shows on one TV? Awesome! Teach them to negotiate and compromise… the TV doesn’t go on without a consensus in our house.
No tech or outdoor time until the playroom is cleaned? Teamwork! “Work together to knock it out fast and you’ll all get to play sooner! Would you like help dividing up who focuses on what or can you figure this out?”
Dictators are not leaders. Learning to rely on others to accomplish a goal, listening to their ideas and coming up with a strategy that benefits everyone is the hallmark of a great leader.