How To Be A Servant Leader In Your Family
Leadership is a topic that is usually discussed in a business or work context, but today I want to talk to you about leadership within the family. Let me share my thoughts with you on how you can be a ‘Servant Leader’ in your family.
The word ‘Servant Leadership’ makes some of us uncomfortable because it sounds like we are being asked to act as a doormat for other people or as if we are being asked to play the role of ‘the nice guy’, who is weak and taken advantage of by everyone.
But that is far from the truth.
Servant leadership is about being a real man. It is one of the most powerful forms of leadership where you serve your family with unconditional love, going the last mile for your wife, exercising authority with compassion, putting your family’s needs ahead of yours, taking leadership decisions without thinking about your own agenda, doing the right things that need to be done and leading your family to a good place.
1. Serve your family unconditionally
Robin and I have been married for 36 years. Over the years as I have tried to practice servant leadership, I have made many mistakes and learnt many lessons. Let me share some of them with you.
One day during our early years of marriage, I decided to help Robin with a few household chores like cleaning the car, sweeping the patio, cleaning the rooms etc. After doing the work, I did not receive any appreciation, not even a ‘thank you’ from her. So I felt disappointed and started sulking. She looked at my reaction and asked me, “You did all of this because you wanted to help me or because you wanted the recognition?” At that moment, I realized that my real motivation for helping my wife was wanting to be recognized, instead of wanting to serve unconditionally.
When you do things for your family, do it unconditionally. Do it for love. Do not expect something in return all the time. You are not your wife’s ‘Majesty’ who needs to be served, you are her ‘Partner’. You got married so that you can serve each other. So start giving your time, resources and effort to your family unconditionally.
2. Honor your marriage covenant
Marriage is a covenant - you took your vows in front of God and men during your wedding, you agreed to partner with your wife, to help her, encourage her, share everything with her, be there for her and serve her. You said the words “...for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer” in front of the group that was gathered and in the presence of God. You need to honor this covenant by practicing servant leadership.
Breaking the marriage covenant need not always involve extreme actions like infidelity; being lazy and not serving your wife as promised during your wedding vows also amounts to not honoring that covenant. Take a decision to honor your marriage covenant and serve your family unconditionally.
3. Stop trying to change your spouse
Why would you date someone, fall in love, get married and then try to change them? You liked them and fell in love with them only because of who they were, right? Why would you want to change them into something else? It does not make sense.
God has made each one of us unique. Your spouse may be different from you, but that is how God has made her to be. Understand that, accept that and learn to love her for who she is. A servant leader always accepts people as they are and will not spend time trying to change them or mould them into someone they are not meant to be.
In my family, I have certain strengths and Robin has certain strengths. She does not know much about certain things that are my area of expertise and I am not good at certain things that she is very good at. But over the years, we have grown to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we have learned how to complement each other. Be strong and help your spouse in areas where she is weak, and ask her to help you in the areas where you are weak. Servant leaders are not afraid to talk about and deal with their weaknesses.
4. Put your family’s needs ahead of yours
Servant leadership is about placing your family first. For example: You may like to spend time fishing, golfing or doing whatever you like to do to relax, but you have to consider if that activity deprives your family in any way? Are you spending time on these activities when you should actually be spending time with your family and children? Are you placing your personal needs ahead of the needs of your family?
There are seasons in our lives. When your children are growing up, it may be a season for you to sacrifice certain personal needs and devote your time for the betterment of your children, teaching them, coaching them, playing with them or simply hanging around with them. In another season, you may have to focus on spending more time with your spouse, serving her and helping her.
Think of these seasons as time of sowing into those precious relationships. This will give you a great harvest of joy, peace, happiness and fulfillment in the future.
5. Invest in your personal development and learn from others
Equip yourself to be servant leader. You can read books, listen to podcasts or programs like Ted Talks and equip yourself for this role. Invest your time and effort in personal development. You won’t wake up one day and be a better dad or a better husband; you need to be with people who have done this before - ask them questions and learn from their lives.
Choose your mentors well; don’t go after people who have no understanding of what a good marriage is. Look for people who have the right value system, people who have walked the walk for many years, and have the experience that could help you.
Do you want to come home with pocket full of money to a house full of strangers?
Finally, I want to say that money and success are good things, we all need it, but do not go after them at the expense of your family. If you do that, one day you will come home with a pocket full of money to a house full of strangers. Get your priorities right today. Here is an actionable step you can take right now towards being a servant leader:
Go to your family - to your wife and children and ask them how you can serve them. Ask them if there are areas where you have fallen short of as a dad or a husband. Ask them how you can be a good servant leader to them in the days to come. You may not hear what you want to hear, some of the things they say may hurt your ego and pride, but listen to them, stand up like a man and take it. Subject yourself to their scrutiny, be a leader of integrity and start changing your ways. This will help you build a strong relationship with them.
Make a decision to serve your family unconditionally from this day onwards, prioritizing them and investing in them. If you do this, you will soon find yourself enjoying the fruit of your investment; the dividends will be immeasurable.
Leave your comments and let me know your thoughts or questions.
Live on Purpose,