Leadership Begins at Home

This is a guest post by Dave Stone. He is the Pastor at one of America’s largest churches, Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and is the author of the recently released Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, and Laughter. At the end of this post, I’ll tell you how to get a free copy. You can read Dave’s blog and follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Why do some of the sharpest leaders step up in the workplace but flake out when they walk into their home? Is it fatigue? Work overload? Or are they just out of their element?

A Distracted Husband - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DoxaDigital, Image #13166567

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DoxaDigital

With Father’s Day approaching, this blog is written from one dad to another. Mom’s, I encourage you to keep reading too because you’re our partner, and often our greatest supporter. Hopefully the single parents who read this will also be encouraged and challenged.

Most of us tend to view leading as something that’s work-related—it’s something we do with and for our constituents, co-workers, or congregants. And if we’re lucky, we hope that our leadership will trickle down to our family lives at home. But we’ve got it backwards.

A little girl asked her mom, “Why does Daddy always bring work home?”
Her upbeat mom answered, “Oh, Daddy has so much work to do that he can’t get it all done at the office.”
And the child said, “Why don’t they just put him in a slower group?”

If only it were that easy. Work flows to the competent, which makes time of the essence.

Living for the Ladder

The more you achieve in leadership circles, the more tempted you will be to put family on the back-burner. Don’t become consumed with climbing the ladder of success. Someday you may find yourself at the top of the ladder—all alone. The joy of success comes when your loved ones are by your side supporting you.

Since leaders are pretty time conscious, let me suggest three crucial times when you can lead your family.

  1. Mealtime: Guard it. Protect it. You may have to eat early or late—just make certain you do it together as often as possible. Harvard professor Dr. Catherine Snow followed 65 families over an eight-year period. She made this profound discovery: Dinnertime is of more value to child development than playtime, school time, and story time.

    If eating around the kitchen table trumps the benefits of school, then you’ve got my attention. At the table you can affirm, teach, listen, reinforce, and laugh! Life lessons can be learned here. So put away your phone and look into your family’s eyes.

  2. Travel Time: Like it or not the inside of your SUV or car has become the modern day living room. As you shuttle your kids to and from, you have quality training time. Jesus taught his disciples while he travelled. He always seized teachable moments.

    Leading your family isn’t measured by how many different directions you go. Non-stop activity rarely breeds character. Use your travel time to point your children in the right direction.

    You won’t always have them riding with you. Someday they’ll be driving separately, and it will be sooner than you think. Take advantage of your captive audience (see Deuteronomy 6:4–9). Remember you are raising them to release them. So use your travel time to prepare them for when you’re not there.

  3. Bedtime: Sometimes we miss out on this pivotal time to lead our little ones, especially Dads. I’ve been guilty of leaving the tucking in and bedtime prayers to my wife—that’s a leadership cop out on my part. You may spend your workday delegating duties, but please don’t do it here. This is an opportunity for each parent to affirm, console, encourage, and bless your kids just before they fall asleep.

    My parents took turns. Often one of them would pray by my bedside. “Oh Lord, I can’t wait to see how you are going to use Dave.” So, instead of falling asleep wondering if God could use me, I dreamed of how He was going to use me. They were vision-casting for me as an elementary student. That’s leadership in the home.

Restructure Your Day—and Your Priorities

Centuries ago, the Hebrews actually viewed 6 p.m. when the workday ended as the technical beginning of the day. What if you were to change the way you view the home front—and you allowed your family to get the first fruits of your energy instead of the leftovers? Your children need to see, hear, and sense that they are more important to you than your job.

Remember, in order to lead in the home you must actually be in the home.

Thomas Nelson, Dave’s publisher, has agreed to give 50 copies of his new book, Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, and Laughter to my readers. To get a chance at snagging one, you must take the following three actions:

  1. Leave a comment below. Answer Dave’s question at the bottom of this post.
  2. Fill out the special form. I have set up a separate contact form to make it convenient for you to provide your mailing address. Please do not put your shipping address in your comment. This will automatically disqualify you.
  3. Twitter a link to this post. You can do so automatically by clicking here. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook.

On Friday, June 15, 2012, I will select 50 people at random. If you are one of those selected, I will notify you via email. If you don’t hear from me, you can assume you were not selected.

Question: Be honest—which one of these could use your leadership attention at home—mealtime, travel time or bedtime? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Kccariker

    Meal time for sure…gets crazy with young kids need to make eating together a higher goal!

  • Francis

    I like the idea of using my travel time to bond with my family. Great idea. Also starting my day at 6 pm so as to give my family the most fresh and prime time and to convey to them that they are more important that my work.

  • Alexandru Jurje

    Thank you for reminding us what real leadership is and where it all starts. 

  • JW3

    Love the suggestion, and yes, my wife is quite insistent about us being together for meals. A blessing for us is that, when I am not traveling, we are able to have breakfast together each day. 
    At evening, the one thing both my wife and I tell our kids (and I got this from one of Andy Andrews’ DVD’s) “I love you, always and forever, no matter what”. We do this every night, whether it’s been a great day, bad day, or if we just had an argument. They ALWAYS hear that they are loved. Cool thing – now they repeat “No Matter What” on their own! I love it!

  • Dan

    I would have to say meal time. Even though my son is 15 months old, starting now will help us as parents to maintain it as a habit. My wife and I have made a rule with no cellphones at the dinner table.
    Dan

  • Rgland3901

    I used to eat 15 – meals/ week @  home with my wife  (now age 53)  older girls [now 22 and 26]  when the girls were little. . I would even take my young girls on” a date w/ Dad for lunch.   Those were great times of fun, listening, connecting and occasionally passing on a good principle for living.  When they were younger I did a better job of  doing this.  My younger 3 kids  {age 18, 13 and 10} still see me at  5 – 6 meals together/ week with me.But  I miss the  frequent  meal times that have been replaced by work, school activities  and too busy a schedule. 

    I have been looking for more times to connect with my kids. Dinner time is the best meal time still.  We try not to answer the phone or be distracted from each other during this important reconnection time.  Your ideas to also make travel time and bed time count are great encouragement to me.  Thanks for pointing  to intentional and predictable times  I can be with them. Especially insightful was the travel times.   Great and priceless!  Thank you.

  • Doug Hooge

    Actually the one thing I need to work harder at these days is the meal time. My wife passed away in Sept last year and with both our girls grown up and on their own I really need to work at having regular mealtimes with my daughter and her family who live in the same city. It is easy to be ‘so busy’ and let the week (or weeks) go by without sitting down together and catching up on what is going on in all of our lives. More than ever I have things to communicate to my grandkids and my daughter and her husband as a result of the difficult last few months. Life isn’t always easy but it is always teaching us things to pass on to those we love.

  • Douglas Stewart @SalesRhino

    Incredible post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jenny

    I know that for me – after being out of the family home for 6 years now – even now having the chance to come back home and enjoy a meal as the whole family means so much. Not yet having a family of my own, I hope to remember all these for my children. For our family – with parents commuting into work every morning – the only one that we really had was the meals – but those meals were most definitely valued! 

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  • http://fountainoflifefellowship.wordpress.com/ Binu John

    Beautifully written! Thanks for this practical reminder for fathers on this fathers day weekend. I honor my father who raised me sacrificially. Here is three things I remember about my him. It is at http://fountainoflifefellowship.wordpress.com/2012/06/

  • Francine Grimard

    It is more difficult at mealtime because the childre are in a hurry to go to play or wach tv.

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  • Another

    Unfortunately I am reading 10 Mistakes Men Make in Divorce. This book hints at an epidemic of economically empowered women in their early 40s putting their own feelings of discontent ahead of their children. It’s not just men failing to lead. It’s also people failing to submit to anything- their spouses, vows, promises, God, or the word of the Bible. Leaders need followers. Good followers are hard to find too.

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  • Amy

    Bedtime.  By the time we finally get to bed, my husband and I are exhausted and leave little time for quality prayer, and talk.