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9 Things I’ve Learned About Leadership From My Family

leadership family

Leadership starts at home. How you love and lead at home has a dramatic effect on how you love and lead in the church. That’s not always an easy truth to embrace, but it’s undeniable.

There is no org chart at home, and if there was, doesn’t it sometimes feel like your two-year-old is in charge?

You may lead a large church or campus or department, hire staff, and people follow your lead. Then you come home to two teenagers you dearly love but sometimes make you second-guess if you are doing the right things.

That’s just real life. And if you listen and learn, you not only become a better mom or dad but a better leader.

It can be challenging to lead well at home, but it just may be the most important environment you ever lead.

Why is it so tough?

Your family sees you at your best and your worst. They love you, and they also get frustrated with you at times, right?

One of the things I love most about my family is the grace they extend me. I’ve been married for 40 years and a dad for nearly 32 years, and I’m still learning.

Some of the greatest leadership seminars I’ve attended were held in my home to an audience of one, and some of my best mentoring is from my wife and kids.

9 Things I’ve Learned About Leadership From My Family

1. A Light-Hearted Spirit Wins the Moment.

When my kids were young, I led our family in a Bible study. Unfortunately, I was entirely too serious when I began, and the kids would “fidget, giggle and play.” In response, I’d attempt to get everyone under control.

I didn’t see that the best thing that could ever happen was to have my kids giggling and having a great time while we studied the Bible. But then, my wonderful wife, Patti, helped me see it, and I got it immediately. So from then on, we had a great time.

A light-hearted spirit always wins the moment. The people you lead need space to breathe and absorb all you communicate, especially when you need to deliver something serious.

2. Never Separate Strength and Compassion.

It didn’t take me long to learn as a young dad and husband that my family wanted both strength and compassion.

Strength without compassion can feel like unbridled authority, and compassion without strength often enables undesired behavior.

The combination of strength and compassion provides leadership for the healthiest environment possible.

Jesus modeled this essential combination; He was unwavering in principle yet always demonstrating compassion.

Whatever the circumstance, whether you are training a child, developing a leader, casting vision, or leading a meeting, practice the combination of strength and compassion.

3. Example Is Everything.

When the kids were teens, I asked them to turn their cell phones off during dinner. My daughter said, “Dad, yours is on.” I responded, “But I may receive an important call.” She said, “We might too.”

Another great lesson.

The example we set as leaders speak volumes to those we lead. Double standards are never a good or acceptable idea.

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Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together.