I am always looking for quick and catchy ways to encourage our daughters, and one day when I was hopping out of my seat to get them out of their car seats I said “be a leader and a light today”, and it has really stuck with me.
This was about a year ago, and since then I’ve spent some significant time reflecting on those two words of encouragement. To be a leader and to be a light. Both are high callings, both are things they are fully capable of, both are based on biblical principles, both are encouraging and both are important.
The intent of this post was to share a simple little saying, and the meaning behind it so that you could use it to encourage your own children. But as I’ve been processing writing this blog post for a few weeks, and thinking about all that I want to say – I can’t help but think this applies to more than just children. As adults we sometimes need a reminder to be leaders and lights, as well.
BE A LEADER
I’ll never forget one of the first blog posts I read posted by one of my favorite business authors Simon Sinek (if you haven’t read Starts with Why, you need to). The blog post is based on the idea of the difference between a manager and a leader.
A manager dictates what people should or shouldn’t be doing. A leader listens, encourages and leads by example. This idea has deeply touched my professional career – but has also impacted how I raise my children, interact with my peers and more.
I want to be known for leading people with love – not telling people what they should or should not do, should or should not believe. I want to act in a way that is worthy of a “following” (whether that be direct reports, my children or people that may “follow” me on social media). I think the word leader is closely connected to the term influencer, and should be treated as such. True leadership requires discipline, hard work, sacrifice and it is not given freely. The truth is – a good leader is only one poor decision away from losing all respect and the title “leader”.
To be a leader means to uphold ourselves to the standard of which we were created and called to – that God has a mighty plan for our lives, to treat people as they wish to be treated, and to lead by example, not with harsh words or judgement. To be brave enough to go first, stand up for someone or something, to walk in boldness and confidence – knowing who we are and whose we are.
I want these same things for my children.
BE A LIGHT
“Be a light” is a term that has been seemingly coined by Christianity and can easily be glossed over. But it is also a high calling – we are called to be the light to the world! But even if you aren’t a Christian, this is still something that can be applied. To bring light into darkness means bringing joy and peace to heartbreak – to love the unlovable or the hopeless. To bring energy and positivity into a gloomy space – to encourage those that need it most.
This can also be easily applied to my professional career, my marriage and parenting my children. I want to bring humor and positivity into those negative meetings or those hallway conversations that easily turn to gossip. I want to bring hope to a heartbroken co-worker or friend. I want to share the love of Jesus with my children and my coworkers (even if I’m not saying His name).
It can so easily be applied by sharing an encouraging word with my spouse – giving him a compliment when he may be struggling with something. Or cheering my child on and being present for the simplest of accomplishments.
For my children, being a light means reaching out to the child on the playground who no one picked to be on their team, or offering to help when someone drops their books. It means not taking part in the mean jokes or icky talk about someone else. It honestly just means looking and acting different than those around you – taking the high road, even if it’s at personal cost.
That’s what I want for my children. That’s what I want for my career. That’s what I want for my marriage. That’s what I want to be my legacy.
Be a leader and a light today. I’ll be working on doing the same.