Great leaders were first great followers. And the truly great leaders remain great followers no matter who they are called to lead.
As a Dad, our duty is to lead our children in The Way of Life. To do this, we must first lead our wife with the Matrimonial Sacrifices and, in order to do this, we must first follow all great men on the path of the Twelve Righteous Virtues. But becoming a Husband and a Dad do not abdicate our responsibility to our calling to be a Man. In fact, they provide us opportunity to be the leader that becoming a Man has trained us to be.
A Dad who leads must first be a follower, and you can easily and without error calculate the type of Husband and Dad a Man is by observing who he follows. Who he follows correlates directly to how he leads.
We know this is true because instinctively we tell our children not to hang out with certain people, because they will become like them. And if they become like them, they will lead like them.
“Don’t hang out with drug dealers,” we say, “or you’ll become one.”
It’s a proverb as old as the world, and codified in Catholic scripture first in Joshua 33 and when St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
Do not be led astray: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Paul was himself quoting the Greek writer Menander in his play Thais, nearly four hundred years earlier while echoing the admonishment of Joshua, one of the most significant leaders in Israelite history, 1400 years before Christ walked the earth.
This is not insignificant – and it ain’t rocket science either:
We become the leader we follow!
As a ManHusbandDad, we become busy, looking for quick fixes, easy shortcuts, and any number of techniques to help us do and be better. But we rarely look at what we are already doing that either counters those goals of being a ManHusbandDad or reinforces them. Give yourself an honest assessment: Who do you follow?
Can your wife and children define you by the television networks and shows you watch? Is it All-ESPN all the time? Is it Spike TV, Adult Swim, or some blatantly liberal and unapologetically myrmidon news network? Do you follow untoward Twitter accounts, facebook pages, or You Tube accounts? What does your Netflix or Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Spottily channel queue reveal about your tastes and what you find acceptable to entertain yourself with?
Are you one-click away from a pornography site, and not by accident?
Or does your bedside table have some good books on it? Are you at ease handing over your tablet or i-device to your kids because they will see shortcuts to the Bible, good books, and blogs from people of high moral character and respect?
Do you pay attention to your children and wife or is phubbing your inadvertent message to them? When you follow people on social media and make them more important than your family by letting the phone be your master each time you get a notification – you stink as a leader, because you’re following the wrong people.
And while these examples are not people in the sense of being in their presence so as to follow their lead – these are the things our loved ones see us following more than the individuals we may respect and revere.
God is our ultimate Abba, as we are called to be to our children. St. Joseph knew this and first became Mary’s Husband, and gave her all the attention and leadership necessary – leading her through perils before Christ was even born. Ans Jesus followed God to become the greatest servant-leader in eternity – dying for his spouse, The Church, because He first follows God the Father – Abba – His Dad.
We can be pretty sure Jesus didn’t pick up the Jerusalem Times, the Sadducee Sentinel or even the Pharisee Press or subject himself to media in its available forms when He was leading his disciples – or when someone came to him with a need. We DO know that His disciples constantly saw Him following God the Father by His prayer.
And that’s where a ManHusbanDad starts: Prayer. We lead our wives and children by first following God. And by praying, and asking for help and doing and being what God tells us to do and be, who we follow becomes VERY apparent VERY quickly. And when we are solid in who we follow, we can only be solid in our leadership. A leadership that our wife and children will readily follow.
To lead, one must follow. To be a great leader, one must follow a great leader. There is no greater leader than Jesus Christ, who follows Abba. Just as Joseph did before Him. And as Joshua did with Moses, who also followed our Abba. And as Paul followed Peter, who followed Jesus – who followed Abba as they all learned to do from Him.
We must lead our families to the greatest Leader by following Him and those who follow Him. In that way we can be assured that when we die, our children will know who to follow.
They will follow the Leader…if we do.