The Secret to Fathering or Leading like God
When I got “C”s on my report cards, my dad would say, “Did you try your best? Yes? Well then, okay … No problem.” My mom would ground me for a month if I got a B or lower.
As I’ve matured, I’ve come to see how supportive and loving my dad was and how much my mom believed in me. But as a child, I experienced my father to be neglectful, passive, sometimes enabling, and often expecting too little of me. I experienced my mom to have high expectations, but inconsistently present in my life.
Renowned researcher Angela Duckworth, conducted extensive research on how students, athletes, employees, and organizations achieved success. She found that successful people displayed high levels of grit, resilience and the ability to fail — yet still pursue their goals and passions.
In chapter 12 or her best-selling book, Grit, she provides the following paradigm for determining your parenting style — wise parenting being the ideal of course.
My dad, who I experienced as supportive and undemanding, fell into the permissive parenting category. At 8 years old, I remember staying out with my friends until midnight or later on a regular basis without Dad laying down appropriate boundaries or establishing consequences for violating those boundaries.
My mom, who I experienced as demanding but absent and unsupportive at times, felt like an authoritarian parent. Working 80 hours/week, she would work from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., come home rush through some chores, make some edicts, and go to sleep so that she could work her 2nd job from 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. and do it all over again.
It’s hard to support or demand when you are absent so they would both fall into the neglectful categories at times.
For my own parenting, I would like to submit that I fall into the supportive category most of the time. I believe our kids clearly feel loved and supported in their unique personalities. They’re happy. On good days, we keep our expectations of our children high and spend the time to coach them towards those expectations. We sacrifice material comforts in order to be a one income family. We eat dinner together every day. We have weekly family meetings and devotions to God.
But we struggle to effectively instill responsibility and respect in them. For instance, our kids really need to be in bed by 8:30, but more often than not we let them play, dance, watch shows, read books, and talk instead of putting down a hard line. Sleep deprivation is not responsible.
Actually, these principles can apply to any relationship. A good husband carries high expectations for his wife and provides high support to encourage and equip her. Likewise, so does a good teacher or a good friend. In fact, any leader gets better if he/she keeps expectations and support high.
Even organizations perform better and healthier when they have a culture of high expectations and support. When a church or organization fails to provide either high expectations or support, it under performs or becomes a miserable place to work or do ministry. But, when a person or organization expects much of me and shows me how to meet those expectations, I feel empowered. I would submit that The Crucible Project is that kind of organization. High on expectations and support.
Let’s take this a step further. We can even judge God by this paradigm and find that He does not fail us. He has extremely high expectations — the highest — and yet He also provides us all the spiritual, material, and relational resources to meet those expectations.
And of course, we must watch out that our view of our parents and others does not cloud our view of God as the wisest Father of all. Our understanding of God makes all the difference.
When I see and hear God as both supportive and demanding, as a coach or perfect, yet nurturing Father, one closer than a brother, right there with me, win or lose, then,I feel empowered and secure.
So men, I wonder:
- Where did your parents fall on this paradigm? How did you experience them as a child?
- Where do you fall as a parent on this paradigm? How do your kids experience you?
- How about your spouse? Where is she?
- Where would she place you? How does she experience you?
- What person — or what place — in your life provides both high expectations and high support?
By Marc Mantasoot
Marc completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2004 and graduated from our two-year transformational program in 2008. He wants to help others pursue their God-given joy and free the world of ego. He is an award-winning poet, writer, small groups/discipleship coach, high school English teacher and martial arts trainer. He provides powerful methods for life transformation at marcmantasoot.com. His greatest joys: Creating scenes with his son, lining up My Little Ponies with his baby girl, and pursuing his irresistible wife.
Photo Credit: Ted Kerwin via Creative Commons