Is “Inspiration” Enough?

Some leadership thoughts from a funeral service

My family’s schedule was impacted this week by the death of my mother-in-law. You can insert all of the standard mother-in-law jokes here if you want to. But, none of them were true in our case. My wife’s mother was an incredible woman. And I loved her dearly.

It is at times like these that we pause and look at a life well lived. And it is altogether fitting that we do so. Mom led a life that by all measures was well-lived. For a skinny girl with glasses that preferred books to boys, she had an incredible life and an incredible impact on so many.

But, merely reading her obituary does not really give you the true sense of the impact that she had on the lives of her family, her church, and her friends. She was an amazing woman. I was blessed to know her for almost 43 years. She was an inspiration to multiple generations who knew her as “Mom”, Aunt Jo Ann, “Grandmama”, and “Greatmama”, except that title was already taken by another extraordinary woman that is walking the streets of Glory today as well, so she just became Grandmama to a new generation.

Is there a leadership angle here?

This is just an observation on my part. But, it seems that we are willing to be inspired by Jo Ann and folks like her. But, are we willing to be instructed and to do the work in our own lives to have these virtues and values instilled in ourselves?

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A Mother’s Love Affects the Brain

Mother - Brain

No wait!  That isn’t a setup line for a punchline. A recent study shows that nurturing a child early in life may help him or her develop a larger hippocampus, the region of the brain that is important for learning, memory and stress responses.

Brain images have now revealed that a mother’s love physically affects the volume of her child’s hippocampus. In the study, children of nurturing mothers had hippocampal volumes 10 percent larger than children whose mothers were not as nurturing. And research has suggested a link between a larger hippocampus and better memory.

One of the study authors had this to say; “We can now say with confidence that the psychosocial environment has a material impact on the way the human brain develops.” Dr. Joan Luby, the study’s lead researcher and a psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO said, “It puts a very strong wind behind the sail of the idea that early nurturing of children positively affects their development.”

What Did the Researchers Do?

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Train up a child…

I’m the father of three little kids, and we’re just starting school for them. I’ve wondered a bunch lately about the things that they will learn this year, and where they will be successful, where they will struggle, and how I can lead my family through both ends of that spectrum. I’ve wondered how well they will be reading and writing, what sort of social experiences they will have… you get the idea if you are a parent.

I’ve also been thinking lately about the things that my children need to learn: an understanding of football, baiting a fish hook, how (and more importantly, when) to throw a punch, how to safely handle a pocket knife (for my oldest, at least), for a few examples.

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Leadership Lessons from a Godly Mother

883790I was reminded in church this morning of the importance of a Godly mother and the development of leaders.  Today was special not only because it is Mother’s Day and I had the chance to be in church this morning with not only my mother, but my mother-in-law as well.  I was also able to be there with my daughter-in-law and our son as they dedicated their son.  It was a special day.  But it also was an opportunity to consider the importance of mothers and to consider the impact of a mother’s dedication to raising a leader.

We worshipped in a typical Texas small town First Baptist Church.  The people were warm and friendly and it was refreshing to my soul.  The pastor spoke simply but eloquently and caused me to think again about the important leadership role that a mother plays in the lives of her children.  And I have borrowed liberally from his message this morning in writing this piece.

Consider with me for a moment the Godly example of Hannah from the Old Testament book of First Samuel.  The first few chapters tell us the following things and they are an example of the impact a Godly mother can have on her child for now and for eternity.  Here is what I see from looking at these first few chapters in the book of First Samuel.

Hannah prayed desperately for God to give her the desire of her heart.  She prayed deeply and earnestly that she would have a child – a son.

Hannah prioritized the raising of her child.  She made sure that she taught him the things that would be important to him as an adult and that would prepare him for great things.

Hannah dedicated her child to God and to His service.  She saw herself as serving a greater purpose than just feeding and diapering.  She believed that she was a steward of the gift that God had given her.

Hannah was faithful to the responsibility to parent.  She was dedicated and she was steadfast in her sacred task.

12748So, what are the leadership implications of this story? 

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