One of the greatest needs in our churches today is strong leadership. I don’t have any studies or scientific knowledge to back it up, but I believe that although there are a few people that are born with a natural spark of leadership, most leaders are bred.
If we look around at the world and the children of seemingly rich and successful people what do we find? We find that their children were given many life lessons at the feet of their parents that trained them to be able to handle any situation that enabled them to make better and faster decisions. Many if not most children follow the footsteps of their parents into vocations or at least strive to achieve the same standard of living and life status as their parents.
Many times as Christian parents, I feel that we put so much emphasis on Spirituality and being “right with God”, that we forget that there are character lessons we need to also teach our children. We need a balance. The priority should definitely be teaching our children to walk with God. Teaching them to read their Bibles. Teaching them to pray. Teaching them to win souls. But we also need to teach them how to be leaders and not be followers. How to use good judgement. How to make decisions. How to stand up to peer pressure.
How can we raise the future leaders of our churches?
Encourage an Attitude of Leadership
Teach your children that they are the leaders. Tell them that they are the leaders. Tell them that in our family, we are the leaders. Teach them that leaders behave a certain way. Leaders care about others. Leaders don’t bully others. Leaders don’t make fun of others. Leaders come up with ideas. Leaders implement their ideas. Leaders are not afraid. Leaders stand up for what is right. Talk about leadership.
Teach Leadership Skills
When your kids come home from school, ask them how their day went. Ask them what happened on the playground. Ask them about the different situations they had to encounter. When appropriate, look for an opportunity to ask them: And what did you do? Did you act like a leader or a follower? The goal is NOT to make them feel like a failure. The goal is to help them to learn to self-identify when they are acting like a leader and when they are acting like a follower. Ask them who everyone follows. Help them to make a plan in the right situation and in the right way to show leadership and get others to follow their idea. For example if there is one kid that leads the group. If that child is always telling the entire group what to do, what games to play, who is on what team etc., your child should be able to identify that they are following the other person and that the other person is acting like a leader. Ask your child if they are happy with that situation. Ask them if they sometimes would like to play another game. Ask them to explain to you specifically what happens in detail and give your child ideas on what to say to try to get the other kids to follow their idea. It may seem like a small thing, but when your child comes home and is excited to tell you that they were able to get the kids to play foursquare instead of tag, you have just given them a taste of leadership. There is a healthy balance here. It is not about trying to teach your child to be the domineering kid that always has to get his way. It is about teaching them the skills they need to exert leadership.
Teach them the Character of Leaders
Care for Others
Teach your children that true leaders rise above the gossip and pettiness of childhood. When your girls come home and they tell you that so and so said this… and now Sally is not friends with Jane because Jane said this… don’t brush this off! This is the time to talk to them about what is going on. Talk to them about what happened. Ask them, how do you think Jane felt. Ask them, what do you think you should have done? What did you do? What should you do next time? Teach them that when Sally comes to them and tells them that if they are friends with Jane that she won’t be their friend anymore either… what to say! How to handle it!
Teach your children to not judge others. If your family has a standard of only wearing skirts (like ours does), then great! But don’t turn your children into “modesty police”. Teach your children, we do this because this is how our family does this. We do this because we believe the Bible teaches this. Don’t talk about the other families in the church that don’t have the same standards as you do. We don’t want our kids going around thinking, “well I am better than they are because I wear skirts and they don’t.”
What ideas do you have? How do you train your kids to be leaders?