Dictator or Servant-Leader? – Part 1

I recently received an e-mail with this suggestion for a Dad’s Corner:

“You mention in a previous Corner that you think ‘many dads are dictators and are only thinking about themselves. You also rightly point out in other Corners that fathers are heads of their families and should make family policies for the good of the family.

“What are the differences between a dad who is a ‘dictator’ and one who is fulfilling his duties as spiritual leader and protector? This is an area in which I sometimes struggle as I try to lead and protect my wife and young daughter. I do not want to be legalistic or frustrate my wife, but I do want to keep ungodly influences out of our lives and our home as much as possible. My wife and I do not always agree about what or who may be a bad influence, although we are both fairly conservative Christians.

“How does a dad find the proper balance between honoring his wife, seeking her input on decisions, and being the leader without becoming a dictator?” A Dad’s Corner Reader

This is an excellent question, and one I believe all fathers would be good to ask themselves. First, let’s define “Dad—the Dictator.” He assumes sole and absolute power that in practice is unconstrained by the Word, the Lord’s leadership, or the pleas from his family. In essence he selfishly and hypocritically misuses his God-given authority to lead his family even though he may appear to others to be very religious. He might feign to follow God’s Word, but has no regard for anyone else’s knowledge of Scripture. He becomes the sole source for all spiritual discernment because there is no one else that he would look to with respect or from whom he would seek counsel.

“The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined” (Psalms 10:2). Since he has the power of authority, he will make decisions for his own entertainment, comfort, or pleasure. I know of one dad who would spend every Saturday away from home on his hobby leaving his wife alone and behind to watch the young children. His wife would have loved his companionship and help around the house, but Dad was seeking his own fun. Praise God that later he came to repent of his selfish focus.

In Dictator Dad’s pride, it is his way or no way for his time usage. His family may be starving to death spiritually, yet Dad is too busy to feed their souls the Word of God: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock” (Ezekiel 34:2-3). He is focused on the flesh and things of this world, but he is not willing to expend a little effort to raise his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

The Dictator may set family policy that is actually good, but he will cause resentment because he doesn’t abide by those policies himself. He might set a policy of no TV and yet watch movies on his computer. He could banish sugar consumption from his children’s diets and yet have his special treats when he is away from home or the children are in bed.

You will likely see Dictator Dad setting down his rules and policies with an I-don’t-care-what-you-think attitude toward his family. He doesn’t make the effort to lovingly and compassionately explain his decisions to them. Communication takes time and energy, but he isn’t willing to do this because he is focused on himself.

The Dictator may be very religious, but looks down on others who are not at his perceived level. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” (Luke 18:11). He often will have a critical spirit toward his wife, and she won’t be able to please him because he views her as less of a person than himself. Therefore, there is no need to ask her opinion on things because her opinion is of no value to him.

Dictator Dad’s main concern with others is how they can serve him. If he doesn’t get his way, he will be angry, because it is his way or no way. “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom” (Proverbs 13:10). Because of his pride, he is quick to mock, belittle, and throw a fit.

Dad the Dictator sounds pretty awful, doesn’t he? Can you imagine a woman vowing before God and man at the marriage altar to obey and follow him? I’m sure the wife in this position has had the same thoughts on occasion. We have met so many dictators through the years. It is easy to fall into a selfish, proud spirit, and it is amazing that it doesn’t happen more often for all dads. When you consider what the Word says about our hearts, it is a wonder we are ever the servant-leaders the Lord has called us to be. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Dad the Dictator is not a nice guy. Proud, angry, mocking, and hypocritical character qualities are not the type that will draw the hearts of his family to him. “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5). Clearly, he is an abomination to the Lord.

This Dictator Dad description should be enough to give each of us something to consider. Are there areas of our lives and leadership where we resemble Dad the Dictator? If we are saved, then we go to the cross first in repentance and then to those we have offended asking for forgiveness and working toward restoration. The Lord is quick to forgive, and if we are sincere, our families will be as well. Next month, we will look at the servant-leader dad, his qualities, and how he leads his home.

Holly Homemaker – Part 3

We are continuing a series of articles inspired by a comment that was made in response to this blog post that we had on our Titus2.com blog. Here is the post if you care to refresh your memory, and the comment follows.

5 Year Old’s Enthusiasm

chorepack

From a recent e-mail: “I wanted to send this sweet picture of our oldest, Audrey, wearing her ChorePack the first week and getting ready to unload the dishwasher. She RAVED about how she loved the chore pack because it reminded her of everything she needed to do in the morning instead of her forgetting things that needed to get done. We’ve loved the system so far! Thank you for creating it.”

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29).

Now, for the comment:

“That poor little girl. She’s happy because she’s pleasing mommy—like all children do. She should be out playing with friends, playing dress up or let’s pretend, MAYBE a few small chores here and there—but CHOREPACKS? You people are going to kill that child’s spirit before she’s 7. God forbid she wants to be anything other than Holly Homemaker—do they have ChorePacks for future lawyers? Or Astronauts? I hope that she grows up to realize that she’s worth more than just an unpaid scullery maid/nanny.

In this article, I would like to move into the realm of whether or not chores are important for a child. I had planned to address this topic as the series continued, but the responses to the first two articles were quite articulate. They provide other voices and other experiences beyond my own so I will start with what some of them shared with me.

“I have just read this month’s Mom’s Corner, and I wanted to say thank you for the great encouragement you are to all of us, ‘Holly Homemakers.’ Yet, another thought crossed my mind as I read the negative blog comment you had received. The idea that ChorePacks (or chores in general) are for the purpose of training up future homemakers, or even strictly for the purpose of getting the housework completed, is absurd. Are there ChorePacks for future lawyers and astronauts? Absolutely! Those ChorePacks are filled with things like . . . unload the dishwasher, do the laundry, clean the windows, take out the trash, make your bed, and other things. Chores are not designed for the sole purpose of lightening Mom’s load and training up Holly Homemaker. In assigning chores, we are teaching CHARACTER, not simply achievement and tasks. We are giving our children the tools they will need to succeed in becoming whatever God calls them to do. I would be completely negligent in my duties as a parent if I were to send my grown sons off to university (should the Lord require it) to become medical doctors if I had not first taught them how to cheerfully, and without reminder, make their beds in the morning and set the table for dinner. THAT is why, even at 5 years old (and younger), EVERYONE has chores at our house, the future professors, doctors, lawyers, missionaries, and, yes, even my little Holly Homemakers in training.” Mom F

“I just read the Holly Homemaker article. Thank you! It was interesting also that my twelve-year-old son was here and noted my response to the negative comment. He isn’t particularly fond of chores but does them willingly. I pointed out to him something that you didn’t even mention. My job as a mom is to teach my children, not only school (we homeschool) but life skills. One day my sons will leave this house—whether with a wife or on their own—and they need to be able to keep their home clean and running properly. They need to learn how and one day be able to do all the things that I do. If they can learn to enjoy chores, the better off they will be! This is true of a woman who decides to be a lawyer or astronaut also.” Mom G

“The first thought that came to my mind when I read that negative blog comment was, don’t future lawyers and astronauts need to learn how to do dishes, too?  Don’t they need to learn the values of hard work, self-discipline, or consistency?

“People these days are continuing to lie to themselves if they think that having a ‘carefree (irresponsible, child-centered) childhood’ really develops good leaders and professional workers. My husband is a professional engineer with a tremendous amount of responsibility and many employees. He handles vast amounts of taxpayer money every year. He is a rare find, as he takes this responsibility very seriously, and invests enormous amounts of time to make sure he is making the best possible decision for all of his fellow citizens affected.

“Notably, in the past two years, he has hired about seven new employees . . . five of whom were RETIRED professionals. He has had to find older men who take pride in their work, because there are no younger men with the expertise or work ethic he requires. The other two new hires did NOT have college degrees, but were men who expect to work hard to earn a living and respect authority . . . rare qualities these days. I bet all of these people had chores to do as children!

“Interestingly enough, it is my husband, the ‘professional’ who most often cleans the pots and pans after dinner for me. It is an expression of his love for me and takes one thing off of my never-ending list of things to do, as a stay-at-home mother of five young children.

“ALL children need to be brought up in a way that will help them enter adulthood with the much needed (and much lacking these days) life skills of taking care of themselves, their belongings, and their surroundings so that those things are second nature, habits. That way they will have more time to learn other things and devote to making ‘a difference’ in this world, whether it be by staying home and raising the next generation or if it is as the business or government leaders of our nation. No one is as effective as they can be when they were taught irresponsibility as a youth.” Mom H

I would agree with these ladies who wrote to me. Our children need to learn to do chores in our homes because these will be skills they will be using throughout their lives in whatever capacity God calls them to. “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). Helping with household chores is really not even a very big yoke to be born. I want my children prepared for their adult lives and to look back on their childhood with gratitude for that preparation. May I encourage you not to let the world convince you that work is harmful for your children but rather to evaluate the reality of life and set them on a path toward success. Next month we will continue our discussion with more about the importance of teaching our children.