In the last couple of posts, I talked about why the homeschool environment is a natural place to birth leaders, and why raising our children to lead is important. But you may be thinking, “How do I go about teaching them the leadership skills they will need?”
Learning to be a good follower is a prerequisite for being a good leader. Successful leadership requires an understanding of how authority works, and where one fits into the chain of command. Even the secular world grasps this concept. Most companies require management employees to go through a training process, which often involves coming up through the ranks. When they don’t, problems with discontent often flare up among the workers. The Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant commented, “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Luke 7:8).
Throughout the Bible, we see seasoned men of God training up future leaders by first giving them opportunity to follow and serve in everyday ways. Elisha served Elijah for many years before he came into his own prophetic ministry. Jesus said, “Follow me” to His disciples long before He sent them out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and have authority over unclean spirits. Those same disciples eventually raised up others to be leaders through a process of helping them first learn to follow: Paul with Timothy, Peter with Mark, John with Polycarp.
Paul encouraged whole churches who were under his care to follow him:
Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. — 1 Corinthians 11:1
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them who walk like unto us, whom you have for an example. — Philippians 3:17
So that’s where we can get our children started — by teaching them to follow us. In the process of following, they will learn two things:
- How leaders should treat their followers — because they become acquainted firsthand with how it feels to be in submission to someone else.
- How to lead by watching someone else model it for them.
We learn how to treat people, and how not to treat them, based not only on specific instruction given to us, but also on both the good and bad things we have experienced at the hands of others. As your children learn to follow you, they will see both the good and not-so-good ways you handle leadership. And they will make mental notes of how they will do things the same or differently when they become parents. It happens with every generation.
Obviously, our goal is to lead in the very best, Christ-like way possible. But even when we don’t, the Lord’s grace is there to help our children learn humility and submission.
Next time, we’ll begin looking at hallmark qualities of a good leader, and practical ways we can instill them into our children.