Have you ever heard of the term, “leading up”? It’s commonly referred to in the workplace for an employee/inferior leading their boss/superior through something new or difficult. I believe leading up can happen at any capacity, even as far as kids leading parents.
Switching Roles: Kids Leading Parents
I have an 18 month old son, Israel, who is very strategic at getting my attention. He is…attached, to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, Israel is fine playing by himself while I do house work and he even likes to help (they just don’t make ’em like that anymore). He isn’t needing to be catered to, he just needs to know that my attention is easily accessible. However, when I am needing to research something on the computer, or talk on the phone to friends and family, he senses it, maybe even smells it. It doesn’t matter where he is, the kid just KNOWS that my attention has shifted, and that he must get it back.
Today was especially difficult because my 6 year old daughter, Ashlynn, was sick with a fever and needed to stay home from school. While she was resting and Israel was happily playing with some toys, I decided to watch a live broadcast of an event with my church. I couldn’t attend with the kids being home with me, so I decided to tune in online. During this event, our senior pastor always gives a 30 minute nugget on leadership, I always look forward to these events and anticipate learning something new. After worship, right as he gets on stage to speak, a few things happened in a very quick sequence.
I took my notebook down to start taking notes. Two minutes in, Israel sensed the shift in attention. He very quickly started crying and begging for me to hold him. I walked away to my bedroom to continue watching. He proceeded to follow me, and cry louder now. I angrily growled under my breath and firmly informed my 1 year old “Mommy just can’t deal right now!” At which he sadly laid down on my bed and rested his head on my pillow as I left the room.
He didn’t follow me this time.
I couldn’t focus anymore, as I heard him sadly (and with a frustrated cry) trying to entertain himself. Conviction took over my heart as I imagined the rejection he felt from me. I knew that we were experiencing the same frustrations. Fresh out of a job and staying at home, I was craving leadership development, fearing I had lost it completely. This moment was important to me. Israel, freshly having his mommy home all day, was craving my attention. This moment was important to him.
As I walked into my bedroom, I looked at my frustrated little boy and calmly said, “We both aren’t getting what we want today, are we?” I picked him up and cried tears of release as I held him to my chest.
At that moment, I understood the lesson God was trying to teach me through my son.
Leadership doesn’t only happen by listening to a well-known leader’s talking points. It doesn’t just happen through reading or listening to podcasts. Leadership happens in everyday moments. It happens in the sacrifice of your time to show compassion for another. Leadership happens through understanding that things don’t always happen in YOUR time. It happens in knowing what season you’re in, and being present, letting God use that season to develop you. Often times, when you least expect it, leadership can even happen through kids leading parents.