As a leader you’re called to invest, influence, and lead others. But for this to be a success, it begins long before you reach the office. Leadership begins at home.Leadership begins long before you reach the office. It begins at home. Click To Tweet
During the summer of 2004, I filled my schedule with activities serving as a junior high and high school student minister in a church on the north side of Indianapolis. My schedule was packed, and it was my own doing. I promised the church I would fill the summer with lots of opportunities for students, and I was bound and determined to make good on that promise.
In the month of June, I took high school students to a conference in Michigan, then down to Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, for a leadership retreat. Soon after, we traveled to Honduras for a week-long mission experience.
Three weeks straight without a break.
July looked pretty much the same — a junior high week of camp, another mission trip, and an Elder-Staff retreat to boot. I moved through the summer exhausted, but I wasn’t slowing down. Along with the week-long events, most evenings were filled with church gatherings, meetings, counseling appointments, etc.
Through it all, I felt full of life, eager to lead, and excited to invest in students’ lives. But I lacked something important. My wife and children were drowning at home without me. My wife played the role of a single parent for two straight months –exhausted. My schedule was too busy and moving too fast to notice. In my mind, I had a job to do. My job represented my calling, my mission, my life.
I justified my busy schedule with leadership. I remember arguing with my wife one evening on our front porch during that summer. “I’m the leader,” I snapped. “These people depend on me. The students need me to lead them.”
“We need you to lead us,” she retorted. I rolled my eyes and stormed off. Why can’t she see the importance of what I am doing? I thought to myself. Through my self-centered fuming, I had a realization as I spun her words in my mind — she was right!
I spent all of my time leading others, but neglected my leadership among the most important people — my wife and children. Honestly, I wasn’t really leading others that well either. I believe this came as a direct result of my poor leadership at home.
Leadership begins at home.
In 18 years of leadership, I’ve come to understand that leadership begins at home — with your family, the ones who mean the most. When I choose to lead my family first, my leadership with others increases exponentially and it’s healthy. When I neglect my family, my leadership weakens and it’s unhealthy.
Here’s why it’s essential that leadership begins at home:
1. You can’t lead others if you can’t lead your family.
I know this sounds harsh. In fact, I’m being quite blunt here. But, this is true. A long time ago, when I was a newlywed with no kids, an older, wiser man told me this simple truth — “Lead your family first.” It didn’t really resonate with me until I had children. He was right though. As I stated earlier, when I am engaged at home and leading my family, my leadership among others is healthy.Lead your family first. Click To Tweet
2. Leading your children changes the future.
Do you realize that, as a parent, you shape the future? That’s one of the primary gifts you’ve been given as a parent. Your investment in your children, your wife, or your husband directly impacts the future.Do you realize that, as a parent, you shape the future? Click To Tweet
3. Your children are watching you.
I don’t want to freak you out or make you paranoid, but your children’s eyes always watch you. They take life cues from you and learn how to become a man or a woman just like you. This moves me to keep my leadership at home in check!
3. Integrity and character are tested at home.
Your wife or husband, and children know your idiosyncrasies, weaknesses, and failures. They love you in-spite of these things. That’s why maintaining your integrity, even on the testing grounds of the home front, is so important. If your children bear witness to weak integrity and fickle character at home, do you really expect to have solid integrity and strong character in the office?
4. Your children become the kind of leader they see in you.
As much as we hate to admit it, our children will grow up to have some of the same characteristics they see in their parents. I want my children to someday become individuals and leaders with strong integrity and rock-solid character. If they lay witness to me publicly leading others, but failing at home, this will greatly impact their future leadership.
My intention is not to discourage. It’s to challenge. I have made so many mistakes in my years of leadership. I have failed my family more times than I’d like to admit. One of the most amazing gifts I’ve been given is grace.
A chance at a start fresh.
Believe it or not, if you’re reading this and shaking your head in conviction, you’re not a hopeless case. I will bet that your wife or husband and children are grace-giving human beings. They love you, and they will allow you to start over to become the kind of leader they need (and that you need to be!). It begins by humbly asking for their forgiveness.
Then, make good on your promise and become a great leader by first leading the people who are living this great life with you!
The future depends on this. Those who you lead day in and day out also depend on this.When your leadership begins at home, your leadership outside of the home will blossom. Click To Tweet
=============Mike Berry is a husband, father, author, blogger, speaker, and leader. He and his wife Kristen have 8 adopted children and have served as foster parents for 8 years. Along with blogging and writing, he is also a speaker and family consultant. || www.confessionsofaparent.com || @itsmikeberry ||