“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
I read about leadership, listen to podcasts about leadership, talk with others about leadership, look for ways to implement leadership, and the most difficult place I find to lead is at home.
Fourteen years ago, the Lord gave me my first life-long ministry, marriage. Twelve years ago, He gave me my second life-long ministry, motherhood. Of all the leadership training I have indulged in, the greatest teacher has been the leadership required of me as a mom. It is ground zero for applying scriptures akin to Ephesians 4:2 and Colossians 3:12.
Earlier this week, our youngest, which is now an upcoming First grader (that happened overnight), had lost (or so I thought) another video game we had rented from our local video store, Family Video. I say “another” like it has been a chronic issue. Reality is that he has only lost one other video game, almost a year ago, that we had to purchase because it enjoyed making our house its home, in a hidden nook somewhere. However, it is NOT the first thing he has lost, misplaced or forgotten. Being the baby of the family, paired with a relaxed view on life, we are consistently having to implement fresh methods of motivation (to his future wife, I am working hard to have him ready for you in a decent amount of time, but, you may have to wait longer than the average Cinderella story).
Nonetheless, we began the search for the missing video game. We got on our tip toes in an attempt to see above our eye level, we were on hands and knees looking under furniture. We pulled out drawers, moved every piece of the couch (and cleaned while we were under there, who knew when that moment would present itself again), threw pillows and cleaned the entire upstairs living area. Did I forget to mention that my three children also witnessed my adult tantrum? I kept my cool, the best I could. I did not yell, or flail my arms, kick or throw anything, but I was visibly and audibly frustrated, by this lost item. Unfortunately, I shamed my six year old for losing another item, told him I was about tapped out paying to replace library books and video games and promised him that if we didn’t find the game, he would lose the privilege of renting anymore video games (this is serious news when we aren’t even one week into summer vacation). Casually, to no avail, I looked for the video game in any random place I could imagine, until bedtime.
The next morning I woke up and began talking with the Lord. “Lord, it’s just a video game, I know. But, would you please help us to find it? You are good at finding lost things. Please help us find this lost thing.” My boy woke up about an hour later and piled himself on the couch (a punishment that he incurred was that he could not watch TV or engage any type of screen, until the game was found). Laying on our downstairs couch, with head propped up by an orange pillow and the covers pulled up to his chin, he said, “Mom, where did you put it? You had it last when I asked you if I could take it to a friend’s house. You said no and put it up somewhere.” I told him that I couldn’t quite remember if I was the one who had it last. I then shared with him how I had been asking Jesus to help us find it and that He was indeed good at finding lost things. He smiled, rolled off the couch and walked upstairs to see if anyone else was awake.
Shortly after he left, I felt prompted to look between the DVD cases under our TV downstairs (which I could swear I had already done) and of course, the game lay tucked between two cases, where I had placed it, “to keep it safe.” Humility poured over me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. I owed a tender apology to my little man and to my other two children who witnessed my poor leadership skills the day before.
I walked upstairs, sat down next to my two boys, who were laying side by side talking, with my daughter laid up on the couch, half-awake, and said, “Mommy, has an apology to make. I am sorry. I was not kind to make you feel bad with my words. I was wrong to remind you of your past mistakes and their cost to me. I misplaced the game, not you. God helped me to find the lost thing. Even as an adult, I still mess up (at which point my oldest boy says, “Kind of like you do with pancakes sometimes, right?”), please forgive me? My baby, exuding some of his many redemptive qualities, climbed into my lap, nestled his head into my chest, and wrapped his arms around my neck. I asked him if he forgave me and he shook his head up and down. His heart is loving, loyal, easy to forgive and deeply tender toward others.
These moments teach me the most about leadership. To lead well outside of the home, I must lead well inside the home first. I have to choose to let patience rule over frustration, empathy over disgust, love over anger, gentleness over brashness, compassion over apathy, kindness over belittling, and humility over pride. Clearly, I have a long way to go! Yet, I am thankful the Lord gave me this six year old boy to teach me, by his actions, how to do these things.