Successfully Leading by Example No Easy Task
Well, I’m not a big advocate of leading by example when I don’t feel like being an example.
My kids imitate me whether I like it or not. I find myself on the “not like it side” more often than I’d like to. I see my worst qualities in my kids. Obviously, I set a powerful example.
I was reminded of that when my kids started to fight one morning. My two middle kids rarely fight. Even so, I decided not to get involved. I thought it would peter out pretty quickly, and I was in a bad mood.
My husband had been gone the five days prior and had worked late the three nights since he’d been back. I was tired. I was irritable. I felt sorry for myself. I had a license to be grumpy.
The gist of the matter was my daughter wanted the lights on. My son wanted them off. I sided with her.
About an hour later, my daughter asked if she asked if she could delete her brother’s number from her phone.
He’d sent her the same text message 40 times.
I was AFRAID you didn’t have the ability to be a total worthless drama queen who has to have the universe tailored exactly as you wish. You are the worst thing to happen to this family since. . . well. . . ever. I hate your freaking atoms with every fiber of my being.
I was shocked! Appalled. Flabbergasted. Mad. Slightly amused (at his control of the language) but mostly mad.
“Why on EARTH would you talk to your little sister like that?” I snapped at him. “Have you lost your mind?” Where on earth did he get THAT from?
He turned to her, and just as eloquently as he had insulted her, he apologized.
“I get mad, sad, and angry at you almost every day. But, those are just feelings. Everyday I make a conscious decision to love you and nothing you can say or do will change that. I love you from the bottom of my heart. You are my little sister, and I want to care for you and protect you. I would die for you. Will you forgive me?”
I was shocked at how my child spontaneously spewed such venom at his sibling! I mean, where did he get THAT from?
Sometimes God speaks to us softly. Sometimes He clobbers us over the head with a big stick.
That was a big stick moment. I don’t know about you, but too many times when I have the opportunity to set a good example, I mess it up. I should’ve called my kids back right then and apologized for my attitude. But, I didn’t. Instead, I rationalized they’d made me yell at them. They were fighting.
But, my nasty, sarcastic attitude said, “You’re kidding yourself.”
I’m only human. I have my limits, I thought. I’m not Jesus!
The fact is, they were treating each other exactly as I’d treated them.
They were following my example.
I did eventually apologize to my kids. Not as soon as I should’ve. Another bad example.
I wish I could say I learned my lesson. I did learn this: My kids will behave exactly as they see me behave. Not as I tell them to behave.