Both of my children had recently outgrown their bicycles, so with the onset of spring and the beautiful weather that accompanies it, we got them each a new bicycle. For my son, riding bikes is something that he could take or leave, really. But for my daughter (8), riding a bicycle makes her feel alive. It’s truly a beautiful thing to watch: hair blowing in the wind, little legs pumping the pedals as fast and hard as they can go, and a snaggle-toothed grin going from ear to ear beneath a couple of sun-kissed cheeks. It gives me all the feels just thinking about it.
In addition to getting my kids a bike, I decided to get one for myself as well so that I could ride along with them (plus, getting a little exercise and shedding a pound or two couldn’t hurt me). When I first began riding with my daughter, I would often hear her say “Wait for me, Daddy!” as she pedaled faster to try and keep pace with me She wanted to make sure that everywhere I went she went, too, so as to not miss out on any of the pavement-pounding experience. But the last time we rode together I heard her say something different. “Follow me, Daddy!” she exclaimed as she maneuvered her bike in front of mine with a giggle of excitement. And you know what I did? I followed her. And she loved it. Now she was in control. If she turned right, I turned right. If she hopped the curb, I hopped the curb. Now it was me trying to keep up with her.
There’s something to be said for letting our kids take the lead sometimes–both as a parent AND a ministry leader. When you let your kids take the lead, here’s what happens:
1. It instills their confidence. Start small. Give your kids opportunities to take the lead on things you know they can accomplish. Let them get a few notches of success in their belt. This will set the stage for further leadership development.
2. It increases their capacity. After your kids experience a few small-scale wins, they’ll want to challenge themselves by trying new things and taking on more difficult tasks. Even if they happen to fail from time to time, their earlier successes will give them reason to continue to push forward and will give you a reference point from which to encourage them.
3. It impacts their character. Once your kids begin to get comfortable in taking the lead, they will soon realize that others will begin to follow them. As others begin to follow, the challenge for your child will then become being a person that is worth being followed. And they won’t always get it right, but it will open the door for you to begin those conversations with them about what it means to be a leader worth following.
Here’s some simple ways to let your kids take the lead:
- Let them pick the restaurant for dinner or choose their own outfit for the day
- Let them pass out the take-home pages to other kids upon dismissal from kids church
- Let them make their own breakfast (or better yet, let them make YOU breakfast)
- Let them read the Bible passage during small group (or better yet, let them lead the small group)
- Let them run sound/lights/media for kids church
- Let them pray over the offering or pray over the meal
- Let them lead worship in kids church (or even in “BIG” church)
The key to getting your kids to lead? LET THEM. By giving your kids opportunities to be involved and make decisions it will instill their confidence, increase their capacity and impact their character.
So how about you? As a parent or ministry leader, what are some of the best ways you’ve discovered to let your kids take the lead?