Leadership Lessons from the life of a 6-year-old.
Our post last week focused on the practice leadership in marriage and how beyond having authority, what ensures a healthy union are the leadership activities carried on in the marriage by both partners.
Sunday the 27th of May, was marked as Children’s Day and presented an opportunity for us to celebrate our children. It also served as a reminder to us as parents and the nation at large of the awesome responsibility we have to train and nurture these wonderful children to become the very best of what they were designed to be by God, and to put in place systems and structures that can facilitate their emergence into their future better prepared than we were.
The Children’s Day activities in my local church last Sunday was climaxed by an inspiring homily by an adorable 6-year-old boy – Timilehin Falana. Beyond being an excellent impression of an adult preacher, he brought the word with precision and boldness, and could not be distracted by the cheers and applause of the congregation. He was simply anointed for the moment. Apparently, he had to respect the timer which had been programmed for 10mins, and was already indicating “Times Up” otherwise he was ready to continue with his message. He was out of time but not out of message. As you can imagine, the buzz is all over social media, and as at the time of my writing, the video has recorded 504,000 views on Facebook alone.
If we keep in mind that in our discus, leadership is an activity, it is actions taken and not a position, what we see in the life of Timilehin, presents several lessons on leadership, which are worth exploring. First off, it will be relevant to diagnose effectively how he got to this point of being able to minister the word so fluently with scriptures quoted by heart. As we all know, he was not born that way six years ago. His father tells me, he joins him to listen to CD’s and DVD’S of preachers and from there developed a passion for it so much so that on his own when back from school, and done with his homework, he slots in the CD’s to listen to the word! What a testimony!
What we see today in Timilehin is the exercise of leadership activities by his parents, in using their God given authority to render service and train a child in the way of the Lord. This should be celebrated, particularly when you consider the gross abdication of responsibility and complete work avoidance of many parents, in passing the bulk either to the school or children’s church to teach their children certain foundational disciplines that should be learnt at home. We need more fathers and mothers who by their actions will inspire and mobilise their children to follow their positive examples.
19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
This was God’s testimony regarding Abraham that he could be counted on to exercise the needed leadership to instruct his children and entire household to learn Godly values.
In Genesis 14:14, when Abraham needed to rescue his brother Lot, he took with him three hundred and eighteen trained servants born in his house. The father of faith – Abraham was obviously a trainer who understood that authority bestowed must be used wisely to achieve a purpose and defined goals, even where the children are concerned. His leadership can be seen in transfer of faith values spanning three generations – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is unlike Eli, whose sons Hophni and Phinehas did not follow after the values of God – and the entire family and lineage paid with severe consequences.
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
To train is to teach a person, a particular skill or type of behaviour through sustained practice and instruction. It is a verb which indicates an action or activity. It involves the doing of something. Synonyms for train includes, instruct, teach, coach, educate, demonstrate something to, make something clear to, put someone through their paces, give lessons to, etc.
Our children arrive on the earth as clean slates, it is whatever you write on them, that will be displayed to the world. As parents, we have a duty to exercise leadership to train our children in the way they should go. We can’t afford to get too busy prioritising other things, whilst the children are left in the hands of care givers and the school alone. Parents have the primary authority from God over the children, so must be ready to discharge the needed responsibility to raise them up. We live in an interesting generation where our children need desperately to be taught the fear of God, discipline, respect, tolerance, diligence, what success means and values necessary to be light in their world. It requires a collaborative effort between the relevant stakeholders i.e. parents, school, church, community and the nation, but must begin and be established in the home.
It is important to stress to parents that our God given authority over the children is not in perpetuity. It is only for a season, so whilst you still have their attention, use your authority wisely to point them in the right direction. Also understand that each child is unique and different from the other, so we must avoid comparisons, and rather apply an adaptive approach. An important leadership competence required for parents to develop, is the capacity to diagnose effectively. This will involve identifying the unique strengths, vulnerabilities and even triggers of each child. If the diagnoses are wrong, then inevitably the prescription or approach will be wrong. The children spend only a few hours with their teachers in school or at church, so it should be strange when as a parent you are presented with a diagnosis that you are not familiar with by the teachers during a Parents consultation meeting. As parents over our three children, my wife and I, have since learnt that our children are uniquely different and gifted, so our approach must be crafted in like manner. And as it is with adaptive work, some of it is experimental and involves discovery in the process of taking action.
I will end by reminding parents that the authority we have over our children is primarily to develop and foster the right values in them and not to irritate or abuse them.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
The deliberate actions of the parents of Timilehin to develop in him an acquired taste for the word of God at such a young age, and instil the confidence to stand before a crowd and deliver the word without distraction is an example worth emulating. A child who is confident and eloquent is one who has been given an opportunity to express himself in the home without being inhibited. A leadership skill worth emulating.
We have too many daunting challenges in the family unit, which obviously requires the practice of leadership to make progress on them. It is not just enough to bask in the authority position of being father or mother, without taking steps to carry out the necessary leadership activities to raise the stars of the next generation.
Join the chariot today to exercise leadership in the home to raise the future of our nation and world.