The Leading Role
"Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching." Proverbs 1:8 (NIV)
When our third son was born, the balance of power shifted in our family. My husband and I were outnumbered and the three little blue-blankets knew it. Every day it seemed a conspiracy was afoot to make me slightly bonkers.
I devoured parenting books but usually slapped them down on the coffee table in disgust. The authors offered great advice, but not one told me what to do when three little boys were misbehaving in three different ways at exactly the same time.
Was I the first mother in the history of the world to have this situation?
Frustration at my inability to get things under control increased daily. Why couldn't I manage my children? I had been successful in my career, scored high in leadership on several spiritual gifts tests and easily led others in clubs or organizations.
So what happened? Where was my initiative? My influence? Rather than a leader to follow, my boys saw a frazzled woman with no vision. No wonder they weren't lining up to obey.
And there I was feeling like a prisoner with three little wardens. I had relinquished my authority and was simply trying to survive.
The day finally came when I decided to make a change. It was the day I realized motherhood is another opportunity to lead. Proverbs 1:8 reminded me that that God had called me to instruct, teach and lead my boys, not the other way around!
The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. It energized me to consider motherhood as a leadership role. And I longed to learn more.
Yet I was also concerned about usurping the authority of Jesus and my husband in my children's lives. Each day I prayerfully asked God to help me live within His hierarchy of honor and respect while showing me how to effectively lead my children.
I was desperate for direction and wisdom from God, which meant lots of time in His Word seeking to understand my position in Christ and as a mom.
It meant reminding myself on those really hard days, "I am the mother, I am the mother."
It also meant leading and modeling the behavior I wanted to see in them, rather than pouting, which is what I often felt like doing. And oh my, is this hard.
Leading as a mother is particularly difficult given the dailyness of it. Plus my emotional responses aren't always logical. So when I get worn down with challenges and disappointments, I'm tempted to let my children lead. Rather than setting the bar high, I think about lowering it just to get through the day.
Sometimes I do. Sometimes I give in when I should stand strong. And in those moments of weakness I've discovered God's grace is there for me ... especially then. For it's in in the weakest moments of my parenting that God has seemed the closest. And knowing He's there for me gives me courage to try again.
Since those hard early years, God added two little girls to our family through adoption and those little boys are now 20, 18 and 16. I truly love teaching and instructing my kids. But some days are still hard; on those days I remind myself that I'm the mother. And I'm still seeking God's direction and wisdom for this new phase of parenting and transitional leadership.
Leading my children is the hardest job I've ever tackled. The costs have been high. But for the five young people who call me "Mom," it's a price I'm willing to pay.
Dear Lord, thank You for being a leader I can follow. You inspire me to be the woman You've called me to be. But I need Your help to encourage and inspire those You've put in my care. Stir up in me a passion for godly leadership. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Few people willingly step into positions of leadership. Why do so many avoid leading?
We all have the opportunity to lead others. What is one thing you can do to develop your influence?
1 Corinthians 11:3, "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." (ESV)
Proverbs 31:30, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (NIV)