According to a McKinsey report, US companies spend almost $14 billion annually on leadership development. Leadership classes at colleges and universities multiply every year and some top business schools offer customized leadership-development programs that can cost upwards of $150,000.
The emphasis on leadership has seeped all the way into our high schools and even down to our elementary grades. One charter school in New York that launched initially for only kindergarten and 1st graders opened its doors with a stated mission of preparing its students “to contribute to their communities as leaders.”
Now, I am sure there are some intelligent 5 year-olds out there. But the only area I’m going to allow my kindergartener to lead me in is down the cereal aisle. (They do seem to excel in choosing just the right sugary cereal for a lazy Saturday morning with daddy)
I’m sure most of the hyper-focused attention on leadership is well-meaning. I don’t doubt that in most cases the intention behind these programs is to produce a bevy of well-rounded, confident children. From a societal standpoint, self-assured, law-abiding, and industrious young adults would be a highly desirous outcome.
But as parents we should never abdicate the raising of our kids to current trends and fads no matter how well-intentioned they might be.
You may very well be raising the next President of the United States or Chairman of the Board at Chipotle (selfishly, this is what we are pushing at our house because mom and dad would appreciate the free, delicious food benefits).
But what is it we are chasing by training our children to be leaders?
More importantly, what are we missing by only focusing on leadership?
As Christian parents, we must look at what Christ desires for us…and then teach our children THAT instead of what society and the world wants us to emphasize.
Here is one very important thing that leadership does not teach:
“Follow me.” That phrase is used over a dozen times by Jesus. It is clear. It is concise. It is simple…yet so very hard.
We need to teach, demonstrate, and emphasize to our kids:
• Why Jesus calls us to follow Him.
• What it means to follow Him.
• When we follow Him, what He desires from us.
In some ways, following Christ will be the biggest step in leadership your child will ever take. Jesus made it clear that the decisions we make in pursuing our faith will be counterintuitive to the world:
“The last will be first.” (Matt. 20:16)
“Blessed are the meek.” (Matt. 5:5)
“Love your enemies.” (Matt. 5:44)
While we are teaching our children to be leaders, let’s make sure we are teaching just as intently for them to be followers.
The truth is, our kids can fail at being leaders, but they cannot afford to fail at being followers.