Children require leaders. So much so that if one is not provided for them, they will instinctively seek one out. That is human nature, and we as adults do the same thing – seeking a leader if one is not provided for us. We do it when we are dissatisfied with a job – usually because management has failed to lead – so we either seek a new position under a different leader in the company, or we seek a new company, field, or career altogether. The human tendency to seek and gravitate towards leadership is fundamental; we need to remember that children seek this leadership as much as we do, but they do not have the capacity to recognize that they are seeking it.
Which means we have to provide it or, without knowing it, they will find a substitute in the absence – or vacuum – of leadership.
We can recognize this lack of leadership from an adult when we see children joining gangs, not wanting to come home, or simply “checking out” when they absolutely have to be with family. Failure to Lead is a fundamental failure to Dad. A leader does not have to be a Dad, but in order to be a Dad, you have to be a Leader. And the only people you have to lead are your wife and children. You do not have to be a Scout leader, a manager at work, or some great orator or politician. Your purpose in your vocation as a Dad is to lead these children and this woman to Heaven, even to the point of it perhaps costing you your life.
Leaders lead by example. In no way is a person able to lead f they instruct but do not follow their own advice. One cannot expect “Do as I say, not as I do” to be an effective Leadership style – it never has been and it never will be. As Emerson put it, “What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”
Children do not have the capacity to distinguish the difference between behavior and advice if the two are dichotomous. They simply see the behavior is what gets you successfully through the day – even if it is successfully bringing you down – and any verbal direction is wasted on them.
So to Dad one must first be willing to Lead.
To Lead, you must DO things in your own life that are observable and measurable by your children. By observing you, they grant you credibility and authority and in so doing, make further assumptions about your behavior they want to emulate, because they see the success of what is observable. These assumptions further instill in them good habits and bring them closer to that ultimate goal: eternity with God.
For instance, if they observe you praying, and you actively engage them in prayer, they will – once you have established credibility through your consistency – assume that you pray at other times when they cannot see you: Bed time, business lunches, and moments alone. Knowing their Dad is fully capable and willing to do these things, they will eventually – GASP! – try it on their own. And that is when you know you are successfully Daddying in that area. Could you imagine Saint Joseph not leading his family?
Most of the ManHusbandDad techniques, strategies, tactics and habits begin or build upon the behavioral changes I discuss at Husbanded.com. Those involving Leadership are the most crucial, because Leadership is so crucial to be a Dad. I do not think you will be successful at the other principles of being a ManHusbandDad if you do not give Leadership the most time and attention.
Take the Lead…