Family life is the most important area of leadership. Yet leadership in the home often gets overlooked by books and seminars. When we lead our families, we create a family culture. And that culture can thrive with health or wither with stress.

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When I wake up each day, I become a creator of an atmosphere. My family atmosphere can either be enjoyable or difficult. It can be sunny and light or overcast and dull. Or it can be outright stormy if I take myself too seriously. Take this morning for example:

I woke up at 5:00 AM. Why? Because I love waking up early on Saturdays? No. I was torn from peaceful slumber because my ten month old was standing in her crib crying. So, I picked her up and held her. She fell asleep. I laid her down in her crib. She immediately woke up and started crying. I picked her up again…. parents with babies – you can relate! We went through this three times. She finally fell asleep after an hour of this cycle.

I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. I’m an eight hour a night kind of guy, so this was pretty disturbing.

Bleary eyed, I zombie-walked into my office. I’ve been waiting for over a week for a new camera tripod. I’ve been excited to make videos for the leader journey tribe. So I opened the box sitting on my desk, pulled the new tripod out, and a feeling of delight filled me like a kid with a new toy. Then I adjusted the part that holds my iPhone and “Choingggg!”  spring loaded parts went flying across the room. I pulled too hard on the adjustment piece and broke it. Darn.

This is not the way I had my Saturday morning planned. Which leads me to this:

FLEXIBILITY with Family.

My little series of challenges could have made or broken my mood. My day could have been overcast with inner grumblings. But I’ve got a child and a wife. My mood will directly influence how our family atmosphere feels.

Later, my wife walked into the kitchen where my daughter and I were hanging out. Grace was playing with Tupperware on the floor and I was making breakfast. Stacey was in a good mood. I was teetering between grumpiness and a pity party. Stacey said, “What’s wrong?” I responded with “oh, nothing…” But she could see that my mood needed some improvement.

I shared my list of complaints. She offered to pray for me and I gladly accepted. Seem like overkill? Well maybe. Maybe I should have just sucked it up. But aren’t these the things that knock us off track?

  • Our child wakes us up earlier that we wanted
  • Our Spouse fails to acknowledge an act of kindness
  • Our routine gets knocked off track
  • Our task list gets crowded out by more pressing matters
  • “This is not what I want…”
  • “I’m having a hard time here…”
  • “My………….”

See the flow? It’s a narrow focus we wake up with. Me. My. Mine. Myself. My list. My wants. My passions.

That’s when it’s time to be flexible. Flexibility means giving in to the need of the moment. It means making the needs of your family more important than your own. To lead well in my home, I need to place my daughters needs (being comforted at night) above my own (getting eight hours of sleep). I need to be flexible to maintain peace and joy. Easier said than done right? I’ve found a technique that works pretty well.

Here’s three things to remember the next time you need a dose of flexibility:

  1. Be thankful for your family and be specific. Say what you’re thankful for out loud. Or quietly if necessary.
  2. Use the “But….positive” technique. It looks like this: “I don’t like being woken up at night but I sure am glad to have a precious little daughter to hold.” (I got this from the book “The No Complaining Rule.”
  3. Remember that to lead well, you need to serve. That means looking out for the needs of you spouse, your children, etc. It looks like momentarily putting your own needs aside. Servant leadership is the most valuable kind.

The opposite of this is rigidity. Taking yourself way too seriously. Or your task list. Or your calendar. Your own wants. Rigidity means you are the center of your own universe and others should orbit around you. Trust me, your family members don’t see this as a virtue.

Flexibility is like a great oak tree that withstood the wind. Strong winds came and the tree bent and flexed with the pressure. The result? The tree actually got stronger. But there was also a rigid tree. It lacked water and was weak and stiff. The same winds blew against it, and because it was too rigid it snapped.

Which tree resembles your reactions?

Be sure to cultivate inner flexibility with your family. Only then can you create an enjoyable atmosphere. Only then can you lead well and enjoy the journey. By the way, we ended up having a great day. Being flexible enabled me to enjoy my family, and it enabled them to enjoy my company too.

How can you grow in personal flexibility today? Share your thoughts below.

*If this has encouraged you please share it and spread the word. Thanks!