Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 2

Last month I shared that being a good leader of the home involves making wise decisions. The most critical aspect of how to make a wise decision is being “plugged into” the One Who is wisdom personified, and that is Jesus Christ. Since He has a plan for each of our lives, we must seek Him to find out how He would have us lead our families. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

There is a trap that is easy to fall into when leading our families. This trap caused a man to make one of the worst decisions ever recorded in the history of mankind. This man was warned not to make his bad decision, but because of his pride he would not listen. He knew what he should do, but he just couldn’t make the final decision properly. It was his pride that caused him to make this poor choice.

Pilate sentenced the innocent Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, to die a cruel and torturous death on the cross. God used a bad decision for our good as it was necessary for our salvation. God foreknew which decision Pilate’s pride would lead him to make.

Pilate’s wife had warned him. “When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19). In His mercy God gave Pilate a second chance to avoid making this horrible decision. Because of his pride, he would not listen to his wife.

Pilate himself knew that Jesus was innocent, “. . . saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matthew 27:24). Pilate called Jesus just! He had rendered the proper evaluation of Jesus, yet Pilate still made the wrong decision.

Pilate’s position of power was the most important thing to him, and the Jews knew it. “And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha” (John 19:12-13). Pilate’s love for himself and his position is what finally caused him to pronounce a death sentence on Christ, even though he knew Jesus was innocent and being falsely accused because of the Jews’ jealously. You see that in our pride, others are expendable for our selfish motives.

Pride is such an awful thing. It causes us to worry about what others are going say about us if we make a decision they don’t like. Pride is what makes us want to take a poll before we make a decision so we can keep our families happy. Unfortunately, we want them happy so they won’t cause us any trouble.

This is such a terribly sad thing to see in families. For example, what if the children want to watch TV and worldly movies? What if your children decide they no longer want to be homeschooled? What if a daughter wants to dress in tight, seductive clothes? What if the teens want to participate in youth group? I believe we are in agreement that our children can put a tremendous amount of pressure on us. Our pride, thinking of ourselves, may lead us to make the wrong decision. I wonder how many parents of a pregnant, unwed daughter have later regretted decisions they felt they were pressured into.

Please don’t misunderstand. Love for others and wanting them happy is a good thing. But if we are in a position of leadership, that is not to be the basis for a decision. We must be committed to make the right decision regardless of whether people like us for them or not.

All three of the decisions I mentioned last month could have produced people who were unhappy (ranging from disappointed to irate) with me, depending on what I chose. It would have been a safe decision, and easiest on the family, to have Sarah stay home. She would have been disappointed, but she was at peace with whatever I chose. Certainly I knew she would be thrilled to go. I felt God telling me she was to go. I rejected the windows, and as a result, the company discovered an easy cure for the manufacturing defect. Not only am I pleased, but others will benefit as a result. Lastly, I chose to stick to what I believe God’s leading was regarding the message board post. Yes, the woman was exceedingly displeased and expressed it with no little passion. However, it was the right decision.

The Jews would have been extremely upset with Pilate had he released Jesus. This would have been a real test of what kind of man Pilate was. I find that it is an incredible test for me, too, when I make an unpopular decision. About six years ago, I decided we were going to change churches, and the family was not pleased with my choice. I had agonized over the decision and believed the Lord was saying we needed to change, but the family was involved and comfortable where we were attending. I made the decision that we needed to change, and we did. Time has a way of proving decisions, and soon the family all saw that it was God’s plan for us.

I have also made poor decisions in the past because I struggle with pride. Two decisions in particular come to mind, and both had to do with one of my children. This child is very skilled at applying emotional pressure. Instead of dealing with the root cause, I gave in on both decisions. Over time my heart convicted me, and I asked that child’s forgiveness. In addition, the child and I jointly chose to reverse those decisions.

Pride will also lead us to make stupid decisions. “And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not” (2 Kings 20:13). Hezekiah’s pride caused him to want to show those representing the king of Babylon everything of value. In return, the king of Babylon would later attack and carry away all of the treasures Hezekiah had shown the Babylonian emissaries.

Pride may lead a father into purchasing a bigger house or a fancier car just so he might feel good about himself. We have also heard of wives who say that their husbands want them to dress immodestly to show off for other men. Those types of decisions can lead to situations that might be regretted in years to come. Severe money problems and moms who feel used are recipes for divorce. Just like Hezekiah’s poor decision, our decisions prompted by pride may not have immediate consequences, but the consequences will come nonetheless.

There is so much more that could be said about how our pride will cause us to make terrible decisions. However, we can see the serious danger our family is in when we make decisions that are influenced by our pride. “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). Our Lord will give us the right decision if we will humble ourselves.

May we be men of God and pray, “Lord, may I cling to You and know Your mind so I may serve those You have called me to serve. May I protect and lead them in the way You would have them to go. Lord Jesus, enable me to be a man of God.”

Worthwhile Toys or Should it Be Tools?

Regularly I receive e-mails requesting that I write a Mom’s Corner on a specific topic. Here is part of one such note:

There were a couple of areas I would really appreciate Teri tackling in future Corners. One area has to do with toys and suggestions for timeless, durable, worthwhile toys.

With Christmas quickly approaching, I thought this might be an appropriate subject for the December Mom’s Corner. Considering we have eight children in one family, we have had plenty of experience with toys!

Let me begin by sharing some of our goals for our children’s playtime that in turn translate into goals for toys. As we began our parenting adventure, Steve and I did not realize that the toys our children played with had an influence on their character development and even their future appetites. If we allowed the children to have a toy with an evil face, they played with it as an evil individual and their play took on an evil bent. If we gave our children an electronic game, they spent hours sitting and playing with it. They lost interest in any type of active or creative play. Your goals, even for how your child spends his playtime, are important.

We choose to shield our children from as much worldliness as possible. 1 John 2:15 tells us: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Therefore, we desire that our children be involved in pure, wholesome types of play. For example, we give the girls baby dolls rather than Barbie dolls. We would like for our daughters to desire to be nurturing mommies rather than possibly giving them a hunger for dating relationships.

We want the children to develop skills while they are playing. That means we will invest in puzzles, games, quality reading books, and even tools. Creativity is on our list of goals for playtime. Therefore, we avoid electronic toys with lots of “bells and whistles”—the kind with a never-ending thirst for batteries. In addition, we choose to avoid toys that are faddish. We didn’t have to decide if some of the Star Wars toys were okay or not. They fit into the category of faddish and therefore weren’t even considered.

We desire for the children to be developing hearts toward families and service even while they are playing. This, then, needs to be taken into consideration when we are picking out toys. Will this toy help my child toward the goal or hinder him?


Tricycles. We would much rather our children ride trikes for outside playtime than to ride around in a battery-operated sidewalk vehicle. Outside play is the time for exercise to build strong bodies and release energy!

Educational Games

Playing educational games is an activity I enjoy doing with my children. I feel like my time spent with them is not only quality time, but also time invested in their future. I schedule a half hour each afternoon to spend with just one child. We almost always use this time to play games together. Here are our favorites.

Takeoff. Takeoff is a game that teaches the names of countries, their major cities, and flags. Even my six-year-old can play it with a little bit of help. There is some strategy, but not much. My children will often beat me!

Muggins Math games. We have Knockout and Muggins. It is a two-sided wooden game board using marbles, numbered dice, and numbered game-board holes. Any child who is able to add and subtract can play these games. All of my children regularly request this game, even the one who can’t add or subtract. “You tell me where to put my marbles, Mommy,” she says.

Sum Swamp. Sum Swamp is a board game for children learning to add and subtract. It has cute little plastic swamp characters such as a frog and snail for game pieces. We have played this game so much that the numbers have worn off the dice.

Name That State. Name That State is a board game to teach the names of states and capitals. The younger children simply have to name the state. Older children and Mom have to give the state and its capital. They love it when Mom can’t remember the capital of Vermont or South Dakota!


Each year when I order school curriculum, I also order two to four new puzzles for the preschoolers. I have a wonderful collection of puzzles that my children love to work. Most are floor puzzles. We have puzzles of varying levels of difficulty. Some of the puzzles make for playtime after they are put together. One is a city just the right size for Matchbox cars. Several become props for other play. One is a rainforest. As we put it together, John will say, “Mom, what is this animal?”

“Well, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like that. Let’s look inside the box where it shows all the animals with their names on them.”

Our puzzles are kept in a closet, and they are only allowed out by permission. That helps to preserve them and to keep interest in them high each time they come out. I expect to have my puzzles be regularly asked for by my grandchildren in future years when they are at my house!

Legos and Playmobils

Legos are the timeworn standard in the Maxwell house. Sons and daughters, older and younger play with them day after day after day. We purchase the city, police, fire, rescue, and arctic sets. There are many sets that aren’t acceptable to our family’s standards. Usually this is because of an evil theme, or because they encourage play that we wouldn’t allow in real life. We were even able to purchase a large wooden display table from a store going out of business so the children can keep permanent Lego set-ups.

The children have spent hours and hours of playtime during cold winter and hot summer days with their Legos. They build and build; then they enjoy what they have made. The buildings and vehicles are redesigned and rearranged. A new play theme is begun. While many toys the children have had stay stuffed on a shelf, Legos are forever used in our home.

Playmobils are the second long-standing favorite of our children. While the sets are expensive, they are played with for years and years. We often rotate having Playmobils out or Legos. Every few months when the changeover occurs, the children will have an added excitement in their play.

As our boys enter their middle elementary grades, we begin looking for tools we can give them as gifts. Because we are training our children for their lives as adults, we want them to begin to see value in work and find it rewarding, even as a child. Our boys are given age-appropriate work tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, and even cordless drills. Of course, it is important to use discretion as to when a child is mature enough to safely handle the tool he would be given. Also, rules as to the tool’s usage and adult supervision while the child is handling it are musts!

One year when John was seven and Joseph was nine, they were each given a cordless drill for Christmas. They were thrilled. Steve had a project planned for after Christmas that he knew they could help him with, using their new drills. Over the past three years they have used them often in other work projects with their dad. They have even been able to loan them to their big brother for work on his house.

By giving your son tools, he will learn valuable home-maintenance skills, develop a willingness to work, build his personal tool supply, and have as much fun as playing. Collecting tools will provide a young man with the supplies he needs to help him maintain his home, yard, and vehicle when he is married with a home of his own.

Set Your Goals and Make Your Choices

Our children have grown up without television. They have enjoyed parental sheltering even in the toys they are allowed to play with. While some would mock such choices, we are watching pure, wholesome, delightful children grow into the same kinds of adults. Appetites are developed in childhood. Consider well what appetites the toys you are giving to your children fuel within them. May I encourage you to pray and seek the Lord for the biblical goals He would give you for your children’s playtimes. Then translate those goals into the toys you allow your children to have.