As a former career woman, turned stay-at-home mom, I get upset when I hear mothers say staying home with their children is not fulfilling and doesn’t allow them to use their gifts. Women in management often mention the frustration of only being able to use their leadership skills at the local PTA. I am not going to debate the pros and cons of mothers working. I will say that whether you work outside the home or not, mothers are leading a project that requires the most creativity, business savvy and leadership skills possible. The critical leadership role God has given you is to lead your children to Him.
Mothers (and fathers) need to hone and develop their leadership skills, perhaps even more than the most famous CEO. Why? Because we are attempting to lead our children to follow God all the days of their lives. Whether or not we can successfully lead our children, may mean the difference not only in their lives but also in their eternities.
I was trying to find a good leadership book to suggest for parents to read to hone their leadership skills for their family. Next Generation Leader: Five Essentials For Those Who Will Shape the Future by Andy Stanley seemed like a good choice.
As the leader of a multi-campus church in Atlanta, Andy Stanley has years of experience in leadership. He breaks down the five leadership characteristics he believes are critical for a leader to develop. His five “C’s” of leadership are: competence, courage, clarity, coaching and character.
Within each category, Stanley discusses not only why he believes the characteristic is needed in leaders but also what those characteristics look like and how to develop them in yourself. Much of his advice is good general business advice. His personal stories add some depth and his discussions of coaching and character are ones I believe would be particularly helpful to parents as they contemplate leading their children.
My issue with the book in general is that although he mentions various people and stories in the Bible, he seems to remove God from the leadership equation to a great extent. In Andy Stanley’s leadership model, it appears God gifts you for leadership and then turns you loose to your own devices. There was no mention of allowing God or the Holy Spirit to guide you or praying to God for his guidance in your decision making. He doesn’t even suggest watching for God to open and shut the doors as God leads you to lead others. In fact, in his discussion of Moses and Joshua, Mr Stanley even fails to mention that Moses did train Joshua as they participated in what sounded to me like several major battles in their years wandering the desert. (He relegates Moses’ role to training Joshua in “wandering not warring”.)
I also believe that although his basic principles were solid, his overall leadership model was an older authoritarian model and not the servant leadership model I believe Jesus gave us. Stanley mentions his father, helping in the warehouse once a year. He makes it sound as if a leader is generally wasting his time helping those he leads, when he should be the visionary, focusing only on his strengths and somewhat removed from the fray. Jesus on the other hand, spent three years walking side-by-side in the trenches with his Apostles. He also served them as he taught them to serve others (whom Jesus was also serving).
Unfortunately, I believe, a huge part of being a good leader is actually really knowing the people you are leading – their strengths, weaknesses and the problems and successes they encounter while following you. Watching a few episodes of Undercover Boss, can show you what happens when a leader remains too removed from those under him. A good leader needs to show his followers he cares by entering their world regularly to see what he is missing from “30,000 feet”. Usually, it is much more than he/she could have ever imagined (and that’s only after having worked side-by-side with two or three people for a few days!).
My suggestion would be to read this book as a secular business book. The basic principles are good and would be helpful for any leader, or in our case, parent to develop. I would not follow his example of appearing to separate himself from God’s daily guidance and not spending regular, quality time helping and getting to really know his followers, though. If he had added those elements to this book, I think it would have given it the spiritual depth it currently lacks.
I will continue searching for more leadership books parents can use to help them be better leaders for their children. In the meantime, this book will give you some good basic skills to practice.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I am painfully honest though, as you can tell! Although not one of my favorites, this book does have some valuable ideas in it.