Successful leaders train up other successful leaders. This is true in the home as well. As parents, we know our children are gifted and talented by God, but they still need training to use those gifts well. That includes the spiritual, emotional, social, financial, and more. The goal is a well-trained grown child who has the tools necessary for living life as a citizen of God's Kingdom. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they will use their training every time they should. Yet they have the tools in their tool belt, ready to use for each appropriate situation.
We have grown accustomed to hundreds of habits as part of life. Although our children do learn by observing what we do, they retain their learning by doing. For instance, just because a child observes us making their bed, doesn’t mean that they will be able to successfully accomplish this task without some training and practice. Even after they’ve acquired this skill, they may not willingly perform the task without some accountability. In the end, when parents have successfully coached their children through some of these life skills they will later yield fruit in their lives.
Moses was one of the Israel’s greatest leaders. He led a nation to freedom. At first, his tendency was to do everything for those he led. However, Jethro, his father-in-law, instructed him that, for the good of the people as well as the good of Moses, he needed to delegate some of his responsibilities.
When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone…Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace” (Exodus 18:14:23).
“Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you…?”
It isn’t good for us to do all of the work while others watch doing nothing. That doesn’t raise up leaders. This can be difficult for several reasons. First of all, it means giving up control over something that we’ve had absolute control over. A great example is when we first teach a child to do something like making their bed. The temptation might be to do it ourselves. For one thing, it’s easier and quicker. For another, it will look better if we just do it ourselves. However, if we never allow a child to practice this skill, they will never improve. Don't let your needlessly high standards keep your child from learning life skills.
“What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out…”
You are needlessly wearing yourself out when you refuse to delegate tasks. In addition, you are teaching your children to do the same. It is the habit of a good leader to know when to ask for help. If you do everything for your children they will grow up feeling entitled, like the world exists to serve them rather than the other way around. Giving tasks to others makes them feel like a valued part of a community rather than outsiders who are dependent on a dictator.
“the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone…”
We are told over and over again in Scripture to release the care of worry. “Carry each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Ga. 6:2). "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Asking for help can be a real test of our trust. This can be the difference between living in perfection and excellence. An excellent parent releases the control of a certain task knowing that the end result of a prepared child is more fruitful than a task not perfectly done. God does not want for us to live under the burden of trying to do things alone. He knew that a solitary life would be to much for us to bear.
“Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves.”
Unloading dishwashers, folding towels, making beds, these are all great tasks to begin your life skill training. Later, you can add things like cooking, menu planning, and laundry. For your young adults, allow them to make small decisions themselves. Ask them to seek God’s will on their own. We can’t expect someone to know how to make big life decisions, if they haven’t had experience in seeking out scripture, seeking God’s will and asking for godly counsel on smaller decisions. Regardless of what stage of life you or your children are in, allowing them to experience small victories prepare them with the know-how to apply the same skills learned on a smaller scale to bigger problems that may come their way.
“If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”
Letting go allows God to get involved in the training of our children! Here we are promised that He will direct us and that those we lead will live a life of peace!
It is easy to get caught up in the every day things that must be done. However, we must keep the main thing the main thing. We are called to train our children, not to get a list of menial projects done daily. When we refuse to delegate we hurt everyone involved. We hurt ourselves because we aren’t meant to bear all of that responsibility alone! We hurt our children because we teach them a sense of entitlement and keep them from learning necessary life skills. Training our children through these daily tasks can seem like an interruption, but the truth is that it achieves our most important role as a parent; raising strong, capable leaders armed with life skills that will aid them for all that God has for them.
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster