family leadership

5 Reasons You Need to Go First in Your Family

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I’m not a fan of heights. So, when I found myself with my son at the top of one of those high rope courses, I was a little less than enthusiastic. We came to a spot four stories up where somebody can hook you up to a harness so you can jump off a platform and be lowered to the ground—but not before free-falling a few feet. I was unsure of it and could tell my son was a little unsure of it, too. Then I heard those frightful words you never want to hear from your kids: “Dad, you go first.” Ugh, time for some family leadership.

With a smile on my face, I got all hooked up. With my heart pounding and my son watching, I jumped into the abyss. Of course, I made it, and my son cheered me on. And then he decided to get hooked up, too. He never hesitated when he jumped. We laughed and shared a great experience together that day. To be fair, my son probably still would have jumped if I had chickened out. But I know for sure I made the decision easier for him because I went first. Men, here are 5 reasons you need to go first in your family.

1. You can’t lead from the back.

Good leaders lead from the front. A leader has influence. That influence can be either good or bad. Dad, you are a leader whether you like it or not. Great leaders set the example, and the best way to do that is in front, where your family can see you. A few examples of this include being the initiator of important conversations, planning family events or celebrations, and being the first to say you’re sorry when there’s conflict. Don’t wait. Go first.

2. You set the tone.

A couple of Sundays ago, I lost my cool in front of my family and angrily blew up. I was embarrassed and knew I had blown it. I shouldn’t have treated them the way I did. What ensued in my heart was a war. I could stay mad and continue my idiocy or own it and apologize. So I sat my family down, owned it, and apologized. My gracious family forgave me. How you respond in challenging situations sets the tone for your family. Don’t wait. Set the tone in your house now.

3. You are your child’s introduction to love.

Your family needs a role model who’s demonstrating genuine love. A dad impacts a child’s sense of security, confidence, and view of the world. Plus, if you’re bad at loving your kids, your kids will grow up never knowing they deserve to be loved. And it’s not that they won’t seek love. They will, but they’ll settle for relationships with people who are bad at loving them too. Love must be the undergirding of our family. Good family leadership is built on love.

Much of what our kids learn from us is from what they observe rather than what we say.

4. Your kids are watching.

Sometimes I cringe when I realize the impact I have on my kids. I think to myself, “I wonder what my kids will tell their counselors about me one day.” This is because much of what our kids learn from us is from what they observe rather than what we say. Fair or not, our kids are watching us all the time. They will pick up lots of our tendencies. We are literally their first impressions of a great majority of their lives. Be a trailblazer for their hearts and show them how to do life well.

5. Your quality of life depends on it.

It’s sad watching dads abdicate their responsibility as leaders of their families. Not only do their families suffer for it, but what most dads don’t see is their quality of life ends up suffering as well. When you don’t go first and lead your family, you hurt yourself by causing your family more problems. Instead of looking to you as your family should, they will go to others for guidance, answers, and protection. And unless you want other influences leading your family, you’ll have to deal with the consequences of whatever “help” your family receives from others. It’s never too late to adjust. Start fresh with your family. They will respect you and follow you. Be a dad worth following.

Sound off: What are the biggest challenges you regularly face in family leadership?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How am I doing as your dad? What can I do better?”