There is a Fathering Leadership life skill that brings success in every area of life.
- In parenting it raises children into mature, responsible, confident adults.
- In marriage it fosters respect and cooperation – the foundation of romance.
- In church leadership and discipleship it brings healing and growth to the broken.
- In business it produces productive and creative employees.
- In friendship, too, it is key to the depth of relationship for fulfillment, accountability, and growth.
What is this Fathering Leadership life skill?
In a nutshell the skill is speaking the truth in love. At one level this is very easy to understand. Yet unpacking and applying its meaning, where you actually live and in the various relationships of your life, is not so easy.
Two Parenting Scenarios – one where the skill is not applied and one where it is.
- A 14-year boy comes home from school with a failing grade in math. The father reprimands him, “I told you to study more. What’s wrong with you? No more playing your stupid computer games for a month.”
In this example the child is corrected with shame rather than dignity. His personal identity is attacked. Something is “wrong” with him. This approach will shut down learning and emotional growth.
- A 14-year boy comes home from school with a failing grade in math. The father dialogues to reach the boy’s heart, “Why do you think you’re struggling in math so much?” He asks this in a tone of voice that is not demeaning but neither does it communicate the child is off the hook in terms of his responsibility to the class. The child explains that despite the teacher’s instruction and examples, he cannot seem to understand the material. The father then asks why the child didn’t bring this up sooner. The boy says he was embarrassed. Subsequently the father gives reassurance that there is nothing wrong with needing and asking for help. So they agree to get a tutor and proceed with closer monitoring of the boy’s progress (healthy accountability).
From this example we see the child’s identity is valued. He learns more deeply that even when he fails it does not mean he is shameful, deficient, or lacking value. He learns that there are steps that can be discerned and taken to move forward when you find yourself stuck in life. The lack of having this positive experience in childhood is why most Christian adults are stuck with habits and relationship problems they never get past. They never learned the skills and emotional strength necessary.
The same principle applies in marriage. There was a 20-year study done examining the commonality of traits seen in successful marriages. The number one skill found in these marriages was a spouse that can stand up for himself/herself without putting the other down (speaking the truth, but in love). This type of spouse will get consistent respect and cooperation in the marriage; and the foundation of respect is the only foundation where romance can consistently blossom.
Picture a new Christian in his late 20’s. He is so excited to have discovered a spiritual life and to be in church. However, he grew up in a fatherless home with a mother who had numerous boyfriends, many of which treated him with degradation. As a result of this he battles many rejection and abandonment issues. Often he says inappropriate things, can be judgmental, and gives up too easily on things.
A Fathering Leader has the ability to disciple this new believer in a valuing way. The leader has matured past needing to put up a wall toward the immature behaviors of this young man. This leader can consistently express covering love, patience and care when the disciple gets his feelings hurt over little things, withdrawals when his unreasonable expectations aren’t met, or even acts out publicly. Over time the disciple experiences love drawing out his heart again and again, instead of emotional abandonment. This consistent and unconditional love brings a very healing and maturing effect upon this young Christian.
The business leader who creates a culture of dialogue and space for creativity is a Fathering Leader. In his realm mistakes are not criticized. He creates an environment where people are not guarded and protectionistic, and where everyone helps each other. It’s a place where teamwork is encouraged, people are not put down or gossiped about, and there’s no backstabbing. Devaluing behaviors are not tolerated. This type of company will be on the cutting edge.
Many people, especially leaders, have no one they would call a close friend. Yet, we are wired by God to need relationship. When a relationship is trusted and even accountable, the two parties feel a sense of fulfillment and grow as a result. There is a confidence and security in knowing the other is truly there for them and can be willing to embrace weaknesses and failure without being exposed.
A Great Example of this Fathering Leadership Life Skill
Mr. Miyagi from the movie, The Karate Kid, had this primary Fathering Leadership life skill.
Think of how he related to Daniel in the movie. Miyagi instructed (discipled) Daniel. There were times they had fun and times when Miyagi was firm. There were times Daniel acted in inappropriate ways but Miyagi was never demeaning to him. Even in correction. I would encourage you to watch this movie again to get a fresh picture in your mind and heart of what this skill looks like.
You see the skill applied in terms of Mr. Miyagi teaching karate and mentoring a fatherless youth. What would this skill look like in your life? In your family, ministry, work, and friendships?
Understanding this skill even helps in how you relate to God. The more you grasp at a heart level that Father God uses this skill as He relates to you, the more you will grow — even in the midst of your failures.
Reaching the World
I believe a hurting world is waiting for Christians to mature and walk in this advanced skill of loving others well. The fatherless are looking for true Fathering Leaders to love, accept, and disciple them through their lives.