5 Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Be Leaders Instead of Followers

Jennifer Waddle

iBelieve Contributor
Published: Aug 29, 2023
5 Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Be Leaders Instead of Followers

"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

As Christian parents, we want to raise our children to be Godly leaders and shine the light of Jesus in the world. However, this process begins by following Jesus and learning from Him to become the leaders we were created to be.

Contrary to the current tide of worldly influence, it is possible to encourage our kids to be leaders instead of followers. When we help them see how their strengths are much-needed in the world and how God has created them for a divine purpose, we are guiding them to step into the leadership role they were called to. Here are five ways to encourage your kids to be leaders instead of followers.

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A mom and daughter reading a Bible, a young mom is shot to death while reading the Bible to her infant

1. Teach Them Jesus' Way of Doing Things

"Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command." John 15:12-14

Jesus' teachings of love, service, and acts of kindness are the best guidelines for helping our kids become leaders. By exemplifying these attributes in our own Christian walk and encouraging them to do the same, we are equipping them with the tools needed to be leaders in their schools and communities.

Share examples of Jesus' life and ministry from the Gospels. Talk about what Jesus taught and how they apply to our lives today. Encourage your kids to pattern their lives after the Savior and lead with compassion and grace.

Remember that this doesn't mean we teach our children to embrace behaviors, beliefs, or decisions contrary to God's Word. Instead, we teach them to treat everyone with kindness and respect while adhering to the Bible as the ultimate truth. The more we point our kids to Jesus and His perfect example, the more we encourage them to be compassionate leaders who genuinely care about others while standing firm in their faith.

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Mom and teen daughter hugging

2. Nurture Their Identity in Christ

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

In this day and age, it is crucial to remind our children that their identity is found in who God made them to be, not in what they "feel" like on any given day. Otherwise, they'll be tossed around by every wind of teaching out there and easily lose their footing. It's important to point out that our emotions can change in an instant - just like the weather. And when our feelings govern us, it can lead to confusion and conformity.

By nurturing your child's identity in Christ, you'll be giving them Christ-confidence to be leaders instead of followers. And once they begin to grasp God's loving plan for their lives, they'll want to share it with the world around them.

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Child sharing flower to someone

3. Cultivate Godly Character

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Ephesians 5:22-23

The strength of our children's character will often determine whether they are leaders or followers. For example, a child who has been allowed to tell "little white lies" with no consequences will likely revert to deception in order to get away with more significant things in the future.

It might be helpful to think of your child in the future and how you'd like to see them as Spiritually grounded, well-rounded members of society. If there are any adverse character issues now, how might they continue to struggle with them as adults? By cultivating Godly character in our kids while they're young, we'll help them outgrow some of their childish tendencies and empower them to lead with strength and confidence.

The bottom line is character counts. The Bible gives us a list of Godly attributes, beginning with the fruit of the Spirit, to cultivate in our children as they grow up to be leaders instead of followers.

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Mom and two kids

4. Encourage Courageous Faith

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

It can sometimes be difficult for our kids to display courageous faith - especially in certain public settings. However, it's imperative we encourage our kids to display their faith and even share it with others.

Discuss ways to remain strong in the Lord while respecting their school rules and standards. This will require great discernment and wisdom from God, so pray hard about how to equip your child to resist cultural sin while also being subject to their teachers, community leaders, and peers in a biblical way.

I suggest sharing Bible stories of men and women of faith who experienced rejection from those who didn't understand. Remind them Jesus Himself went through the worst kind of rejection and was ultimately crucified on the cross for the world's sins. Yet, for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

We can encourage courageous faith in today's culture, and it begins with reminding our children of God's continuous help and limitless strength in battle.

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Grandpa talking with grandchildren

5. Expose Them to Strong Leaders

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

Exposing our kids to strong leaders is crucial in cultivating their leadership skills. When they understand that others have gone before them and they are not alone in their leadership journey, they'll be inspired to remain strong in the days ahead.

Try to find exemplary people in your church or community who can take your children under their wing. Read stories of Christian martyrs and other followers of Jesus who are bravely making an impact in their part of the world. Hopefully, our kids will learn from their experiences and adopt their leadership qualities into their own lives, encouraging them to lead with faith, integrity, and compassion.

Think of pastors, missionaries, community leaders, or even successful professionals in their respective fields. Consider apprenticeship or mentorship opportunities that might fit your child's strengths and talents well. Strong leaders can serve as role models, demonstrating what it means to live a life of faith, humility, and dedication to serving others.

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happily family relaxing on Sabbath in bed

It Takes Humility 

It is possible to raise Godly leaders in a godless world, but it first takes a humble heart to follow Jesus and learn His way of doing things. Let this be the school year you encourage your children to be leaders instead of followers and trust God to direct their steps.

Photo credit: ©Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto

Jennifer WaddleJennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayerand is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesnt Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth. 

Originally published Tuesday, 29 August 2023.