You look down into the sparkling eyes of a rambunctious preschooler and think, “You’re going to be a great man or woman one day.” But how do we as parents, grandparents, aunts, or caring friends foster in this young one what it takes to become a leader in the next generation?
We need to begin where Proverbs tells us all wisdom begins. Teach them to fear God (Proverbs 9:19). How do they fear God? Proverbs 8:13 says, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil.” In society today our culture tells us that what is bad or evil is good and what is good or righteous is evil. For our children to succeed they need to base their understanding on what God says is good or right. The only way to know truth is to read and study what God says. Spending time in family devotions or spending time mentoring a young one in the Word will help him or her know God’s Word. Only this will lead to long life and true prosperity.
This generation of children must learn the importance and value of integrity and honesty. We must model these values but also teach our children by holding them accountable. For example, my children knew that to disobey would incur discipline, but to disobey and lie would double the disciplinary action. The Bible is very clear that God despises dishonest lips. Our world teaches the contrary. The world says just don’t get caught. We must instill in our future leaders the understanding that God knows everything and we ultimately answer to Him. Great leaders are men and women of integrity.
Leaders must also learn the power of the tongue for good and evil. The Bible speaks often of how perverse speech, filthy language, gossip, slander, and even arrogance are all a part of the sin nature and will ultimately bring ruin into our lives. God tells us to get rid of these things. With our tongue we can encourage, speak truth, uplift, build up, and share the gospel. Speaking truth may not always be pleasant, but God blesses the one who speaks it. Next generation leaders must choose good over evil each time they open their mouths. We, as their mentors, must model good speech as well as hold them accountable and affirm them when they choose well.
Great leaders are hard workers. They need to learn that servant leaders earn respect. Jesus set the example by not just telling His disciples what to do, but by showing them. Just as Jesus led by example, so should we. Don’t just tell your next generation leader what to do, show her. Allow her to shadow you as you work and play. You may be further along in your career now, but tell her how you got started. Remind her that hard work is required. Proverbs speaks often of the rewards of hard work. In a society that expects something for nothing, we must instill in our children that laziness leads to failure, but hard work has its own rewards.
We can teach our children all of these things, but we must start early and repeat them often by our actions, attitudes, and words. Look down into those eyes once more, it won’t take long and they will be looking eye to eye at you. When they do, I pray you will be gazing into the eyes of a great leader.
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