“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” —Jack Welch
Over the past 5 years, I have had the opportunity to encourage hundreds of families on techniques for builder stronger marital and parental relationship skills. I have certainly been encouraged by some of the results that I’ve seen.
For example, I recently received a message from a young man that my wife and I met at a marriage retreat that we conducted for a military group from Maryland. During the retreat, my wife and I had the opportunity to talk one on one with him and his wife. They were in the early years of their marriage. And, they were struggling—with even some talk about whether this marriage would last. Over the course of a couple of hours, my wife and I felt like we did the best we could to help them.
His message to me a month of so ago warmed my heart as he talked about how wonderfully he and his wife have been doing. I was elated. I just couldn’t stop smiling. During the email exchange I asked him what turned things around. His response was simple yet profound:
- I stopped making excuses
- I started living for my wife
As I think about this young man’s response, it reminded me of the quote above by the renown leadership guru, Jack Welch. Before we become a leader, we can legitimately focus on our own growth. But, once we don that leadership mantle, then success is about developing others.
While many of us think about the importance of leadership development in our vocation and places of business, we are often remiss in considering our leadership in the most important venue—HOME.
As such, we spend countless hours investing in those outside our home and often little, or no, time developing those most close to us.
And, just a glimpse into pastors’ struggles, reveals the cruel realities of this leadership deficit at home:
- 77% of pastors surveyed felt that they did not have a good marriage themselves
- 50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce
- Almost 40% of pastors polled admit to an extramarital affair since beginning their ministry
What is the message?
We must first lead our homes. And, this blog is dedicated to that topic. Yes, leadership topics will be addressed more broadly. But, it has to start at home. Without that, the trajectory of your life will fall far short of its intended impact.
If you are a spouse, you have the leadership responsibility to develop your spouse into the person s/he dreams to be.
If you are a parent, you have the leadership responsibility to guide your children along the path to fulfill their destiny.
If you are a sibling or a caregiver of any nature you have leadership responsibility.
How you handle your home often dictates how you will lead in the other areas of your life. And, as important, it will prepare those within your sphere of influence to indeed be leaders themselves.
Marriage is an opportunity to lead the one to whom you are committed through the mountains of success as well as the valleys of difficulty. Herein lies its beauty and its challenge.
I’m so thankful that my young friend above realized early in his marriage two important aspects of leading home. We all have to stop allowing excuses to exonerate our poor behavior. Let’s own it.
Then, we have to realize, “it’s not about me”. At least it is not only about me. We each have to focus on the needs of the others in our path. When we do, the course of our relationship exponentially shifts.
Now its your turn.
Why do you think pastor’s marriages struggle as they do? How, if at all, might these statistics shift if pastors could adapt those two suggestions made by my friend?
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.