Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 5

(To read the first parts in this series, please see this link.) I had to drive to Kansas City this afternoon to deliver some software to a client. I invited Teri to accompany me. We were enjoying our ride as we traveled down a four-lane section of highway that had a sixty-five mile per hour speed limit and several traffic lights.

I could see the light ahead of me turn red and along with the two cars behind me, we began bleeding off speed as we came to a stop. I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw a burgundy car still traveling at the speed limit, or more, bearing down on the intersection in the left lane next to us. I quickly glanced ahead and saw two cars beginning to pull into the intersection, on their green light, in a collision path. Just then, the burgundy car’s driver slammed on the brakes, and the car began skidding. There was absolutely no way that car was going to stop or even reduce his speed enough to matter.

I quickly looked forward, and the two cars were now approaching the same point on the pavement as the “red-light runner.” The two legal cars hit their brakes and were able to stop before venturing into the path of the speeding car. Obviously, they had seen this car flying down the road and were entering the intersection much more slowly than they might have under other circumstances.

Thankfully, I have never witnessed a fatal accident, but I came as close today as I would ever care to come. Tragedy was averted because the lead car was being observant, looking ahead for danger as he proceeded. Had the driver not been attentive, it likely would have been terrible for all those involved.

What kind of driver are you? I’m not talking about your skills behind the wheel, but your methods as leader of your home.

Old Testament Lot was a man who reminds me of the person driving the burgundy vehicle. If it hadn’t been for God’s grace, he would have reaped more serious consequences than he actually did.

In Genesis 13 we read that there was strife between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s. Abram asked Lot to pick where he wanted to live, and Abram would go somewhere else. “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other” (Genesis 13:10-11).

Lot chose the best for himself. He was a selfish man. Because of decisions like this one, his family would know that most of his decisions would likely have a selfish motive to them. This would cause them to question his leadership of their family. We see this questioning clearly when the Lord was about to destroy Sodom. Lot tried to convince his sons-in-law to leave the city. However, since Lot had not demonstrated real leadership, they would not listen to him or follow him. Instead they thought he was joking.

I believe we see that Lot was also lazy. He was a shepherd, but he ended up living the easy life in Sodom. His motives are later confirmed when the angels tell him to flee to the mountains, but Lot wants to live in another city of his choice. Because of Lot’s laziness, he was willing to raise his family in the morally corrupted environment of Sodom. He knew it was a wicked place; that is why he wanted to protect the angels from sleeping in the city square. Yet, Lot would not take his family away from there for their own good.

May we not be of a like mind with Lot. I struggle with laziness, and that is one small reason why we don’t watch any TV. I know my own sin nature and how tempted I am to watch what is a snare to my soul and would corrupt my family. Sure, a dad can justify the desire to be entertained by feeling he deserves a mindless break and that he will be careful about what he watches. However, regardless of your efforts to avoid damaging shows, you will still be bombarded with lewd and inappropriate commercials. Even news bites present things done in darkness, which Scripture says are not to be spoken of: “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:12). Watching television will have an affect on the dad’s soul and the children’s. Dads, which are we more concerned with: our pleasure and entertainment or the purity of our families? What other harmful influences may there be that we have been too lazy to protect our family from?

Lot was willing to sacrifice his daughters for others. At first that may seem noble, but is it? A noble act would have meant being willing to sacrifice himself for others. That is our example in Christ. (Certainly, Christ would have us sacrifice our selfish entertainment and pleasure to keep our family pure as we serve Him.)

Often parents tell us how they desire to reach the lost by using their children to evangelize in different places and activities. Frankly, as I observe their decisions and listen to the justification, it sounds much like the excuse I believe Lot would use for being willing to send his innocent daughters out to appease a lust-incensed mob. Dads, the result will be the same. I believe you will either lose your children, or they will be corrupted by others’ influence and never be what they could have been. We are to evangelize, but we are to be the ones doing it. May we not sacrifice our children, but protect them as a father should (John 10).

God’s priorities were not Lot’s priorities. In the morning the angels urged Lot to arise, hurry, and flee the city. (How many of us think we would be in bed if we knew our city was about to be destroyed?) In Genesis 19:16 we read that Lot “lingered,” and the angels took hold of his hand and those of his family members, bringing them out of Sodom. If Lot had been in tune with the Lord when he was told to leave all the angels would have seen was his dust. Lot was not a godly leader of his family. We also see this confirmed when his wife looks back after having been told not to. They both loved the easy life, but she was not strong enough to only look forward.

I wonder if this isn’t analogous to dads who choose not to spend time with the Lord Jesus in the beginning of their day. Most often the “reason” is they are too busy. That just isn’t true; we all take time to do what is important to us. Most of us will not go without eating, because we feel it to be important. If our time with the Lord were seen as critical to our walk with Him and leading our family, then we would do it every day regardless of our circumstances. The truth is that we consider other things more important than spending time with our Lord. We are relying more on ourselves than we are the Lord, otherwise we couldn’t bear not to spend time with Him. May we not be found in bed (like Lot) when we have the urgency of meeting with our Lord first thing in the morning.

When the angels had brought them outside the city, they instructed Lot to flee to the mountains. Next, an amazing thing happened. Lot argued with them by saying, “. . . Oh, not so, my Lord” (Genesis 19:18)! This absolutely floors me! He had just been delivered by God’s mercy, after he lingered, and now he wanted to go to another city. What a picture that is of what it takes to pry sin out of our grasp. It cost him most of his family and everything he had. God had given him clear instructions, and he didn’t want to follow them. AUGHHHHH!

I wonder if that isn’t a major reason so many dads really don’t want to begin their day with a quiet time with the Lord. Could it be they don’t really want to hear what the Lord is telling them? Could it be that they don’t want to get too close to the Lord in case He might give them instructions they really don’t want to hear or obey? What price, men, are we willing to pay to have it our way? It may cost us our family as it did Lot.

May we be men of God and not live after Lot’s selfish and lazy example. Whatever it costs us, may we lead our family in paths of righteousness, protect them from evil, and obediently follow God’s direction for our family. May we not endanger our families like the driver of the burgundy vehicle and Lot did theirs.

The Case Against Anger – Part 1

I had sent Joseph (12), John (11), and Jesse (7) downstairs to pick up in their bedroom. They were given a half hour of time we would normally get to spend reading out loud together for this task because they hadn’t done it during their assigned time. When I went to check on their progress, I heard one son fussing at another that he hadn’t been working at all. The other son made an unkind comment in reply. As I listened to this verbal interaction between my sons, I found the emotion of anger rising up within me.

Tonight we had a busy “breakfast” supper. There was much preparation, and most of it needed to be completed at the last minute. We started with salads, but then moved into bacon, pancakes, eggs, and biscuits. While everyone else was beginning to eat, I was still frying bacon and cooking pancakes. After a little while, Steve kindly offered to take over the kitchen work so I could sit down to have a bite to eat. I poured six more pancakes and said, “Here are the last of the pancakes. Please keep an eye on them.”

After eating a pancake, I returned to the kitchen. “Yikes, who’s watching the pancakes?”

“What pancakes?” Steve questioned. “All you said to do was finish frying the bacon.”

“No. Before I sat down, I told you I was putting in the last of the pancakes,” was my response.

“I didn’t hear that.”

I could tell, again, I was beginning to feel angry. While I have come a long way in dealing with anger—from yelling and door slamming to irritated tones in my voice—I still have much to learn in this area. I also have a tremendous desire to be constantly characterized by a meek and quiet spirit.

I am concerned about truly conquering anger in my life, and I know many other moms are as well. I don’t want to simply control it on the outside, although that is a starting place. I pray that there would be no anger at all in my reactions.

Scripture has strong words to say about anger. “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). I believe as Christian homeschooling moms, we are seeking for the righteousness of God to be manifested. God clearly says that our anger does not bring about His righteousness.

It is easy to justify anger, and that is a very dangerous temptation. May we never, never allow ourselves to do this. We must not make excuses for our anger but rather see it as sin. As long as my thoughts say that I have a reason to be angry, I am not going to deal with that anger properly or gain victory over it.

In the situation where my boys were bickering, they were sinning. I had a choice set before me. I could allow myself to let the angry thoughts and feelings progress, telling myself that my anger is righteous anger and that they deserve it. After all, when I am angry, I get their attention.

However, to be totally honest, while I am disappointed that my boys are not being kind to each other, my anger is more related to my inconveniences. I am angry that they aren’t getting their work done, that I will have to correct them for their unkindness, that we work on their attitudes toward one another but they still are bickering, etc. My anger is focused on the impact of their behavior on me.

If I were truly concerned about the issue of sin in my boys’ lives, I would not be angry. I would be pleased that the Lord has given me another opportunity to share God’s truth with my sons. I would once again turn their hearts and thoughts to Jesus Christ, the One Who can give them victory over sin. No, that is not the focus of my heart when I am becoming angry. Rather, my heart is selfish.

What happens in my children’s lives when I respond to them angrily? First, they, in turn, learn to react with anger. While anger is certainly a part of our sin nature, how often do we hear our own angry voices and see our hard facial expressions mirrored in our children? Our children have picked up angry responses from watching their mothers!

Scripture says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Therefore, when I respond angrily to my child, I am fueling his anger as well. We then have an angry, sinful confrontation on our hands. This is most certainly a no-win situation.

Now let’s consider the anger I felt inside when the pancakes were being overcooked. This is a simple matter. What difference does it make if I said something and no one heard me? What difference does it make if the pancakes were burned? (They weren’t.) Yet my pride over wanting to be paid attention to and not have distasteful food allowed angry feelings to fester.

Here again, is there anything beneficial or positive that might come from anger over pancakes? Of course not! However, there is great negative potential if I let that anger progress. What would my children see in my relationship with Steve if I respond angrily—or even at all? Where do they see my priority if a burned pancake is more important than a sweet spirit?

Next month I want to delve further into this area of anger and dealing with it. I have a whole chapter on anger in Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit. My desire in these Corners is not to repeat what I have written there, but to continue, in different ways, to evaluate anger and keep our focus on the need to refuse it any place in our lives.

Sisters, we have a myriad of daily interactions that can cause us to feel angry. May we see anger as God sees it. May we hate the anger in our lives and the consequences it brings about as well. May we consistently be asking the Lord for a heart that not only doesn’t let our anger spill out on our family members, but one that doesn’t even have angry feelings.

To read the rest of the series, please click here and scroll down, as Part 4 is at the top.