Posts Tagged ‘strong willed child’

A child who is never required to bend their will to the parent they can see is unlikely to submit their will to a God they cannot see.

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At a very young age, my son Patrick was a take charge kind of guy, and I used to joke that even though he was a “born leader”, there didn’t seem to be anyone willing to follow a five year old.  While that line was good for an occasional chuckle, it actually encapsulates a very real issue for those birthed with a calling to leadership.  I believe that God equips us with the gifts and abilities needed to fulfill His divine purposes in our lives; and I don’t believe that they just magically appear when we need them.  I sense they exist within us (often times in seed form) from the time we are born, and that they must be nurtured and cultivated along the way.  If this is accurate, it may be more fitting to say, “born to be a leader”, as it acknowledges that one must grow into such a role.  Even after the prophet declared that David would one day be king, no one bowed down to him.  In fact, he was sent back out to the fields to tend the sheep (for years).  Similarly, recognizing this calling in the lives of our children doesn’t mean that we should put them in charge of the nursery, or even let them pick out their own clothes.


While the idea that our kids could one day become “leaders of men” may sound glamorous, raising a child with classic leadership traits (e.g. fearless, proactive, outspoken, stubborn, independent…) can be a challenging endeavor.  Such a child is generally classified as “strong-willed”, which some view as an affliction, or even a defect.  I remember being told that I needed to “break” my son’s will/spirit while he was still young, but the Lord strongly impressed upon me that this was not His desire.  He showed me that He’d put these qualities within the boy for a reason, and that I needed to help him to develop into the man he was created to be.  Again, that sort of thing sounds good on paper, but how do you do it?


As I prayed, I sensed that the first step was to teach Patrick to recognize, and yield to “legitimate” authority.  The scripture teaches us that fear (i.e. awe, reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  It is the recognition that there is a power greater than ourselves, and that we are subject to it.  No matter what position of leadership he might be destined for, learning to submit to those with genuine authority is an essential trait.  Leaders who miss this step in their development generally become tyrants.


Another important concept was the proper application of the strength that God has given him.  Helping him to understand that this power wasn’t meant to simply get him what he wants, but that it is intended to be a resource for God to protect and serve the children He loves.  Ultimately, authentic leadership isn’t as much about controlling people, as it is about serving them.  Leaders who fail to grasp this principle are likely to become bullies.


As we’ve travelled further along this path, I’ve sensed that the first charge for any emerging leader is to lead by example.  For how can someone be trusted with the governance of others, when they are unable to govern themselves.  In fact, good leaders often attain their position by simply walking with integrity, and finding that people have fallen in line behind them.  While this organic emergence into a position of leadership is ideal, it isn’t always possible.  But how a leader steps into that role is a critical factor.  Those who seize power/control rarely hold onto it for very long, and are far more likely to have it ripped from their hands.  Installation into a leadership position is best facilitated by those who possess legitimate authority over that position, or by the consensus of those who would be subject to it (e.g. electing a Union President or team Captain).


As time has gone on, I’ve come to recognize leadership qualities in all of our kids, and to understand that they are all called to lead in one capacity or another.  At the very least, they will need to lead their families.  As such, these principles apply to them as well.  And while I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, I would offer the following condensed list to anyone trying to raise a “born leader”.


Raising a “Born Leader”


  • Don’t attempt to break their will/spirit, endeavor to mold it
  • Teach them to recognize and yield to legitimate authority
  • Teach them not to use their strength to oppress or abuse, but to protect and serve
  • Teach them that they must first lead by example before they can expect an actual leadership position
  • Teach them that positions of leadership are best when they are given, and not seized

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