It took me longer than a lot of people to let go of childhood and begin growing into adulthood. My turning point came when I realized that if some day I were to get married I would probably end up having children, and that if I had a son he would likely grow up to be like me, and that if I had a daughter she would grow up to marry a man like me. I could not abide the thought of any daughter of mine marrying that sort of man, or any son of mine being that sort of man, so I began making a conscious effort to grow and mature. It was probably several years before any noticeable change appeared in my life, but I have now almost reached the point that I could comfortably say to a child, "Look to me for an example of manhood." I'm not saying I'm mature enough or that I don't need to grow any more, but the difference between Curt2004 and Curt1994 is staggering. I still have quite a bit of stuff to figure out, though.
After several years of pondering, researching, and picking the brains of older Christians, I feel like I'm beginning to form an idea of what a leader is. I shared some thoughts and the thoughts of others earlier this year (in three parts: one, two, three). Since then I have learned a little more and have formed a rudimentary idea of what a leader is. To me, an effective leader needs three things: a love of his people, a vision for their future, and the ability to move them toward the vision's completion. For a husband/father, that means setting goals. A husband/father must set financial, social, professional, educational, emotional, relational, domestic, and spiritual goals for the family. He should have a plan and set about equipping and encouraging every family member toward those goals. He should have new goals in place before present ones are reached so that the family never stagnates. He should demonstrate in his own life how individuals in the family should live and act and relate. I've only begun growing into this role as a husband, and my understanding of it will surely change as time goes on.
In a post yesterday, and in a follow-up today, King of Fools pointed to a comment on a post at Dean's World questioning whether being a good father has anything to do with being a good president. I don't know that there's any correlation to be drawn between the two roles, but I do know—as KoF so rightly said—that a man needs to be a strong leader in order to be effective in either role. He discusses some of the issues concerning leadership, which I will not rehash here. It is thought-provoking stuff for me, since I have long wondered how a husband/father should fulfill the role of leader in a household.
I don't know that a man must be a good husband in order to be a good president. Surely there are examples of excellent presidents who were wretched husbands, and excellent husbands who did little more than occupy the Oval Office. As I look for leadership qualities in the two current presidential candidates, I must admit that neither comes across as a consummate leader. Honestly, I don't think I've seen a true national leader in my lifetime (in the United States, anyway) except for Ronald Reagan. I do feel like Bush truly cares about the people more than he cares about himself, that he loves this country, and that he will defend it no matter what it takes. On the other hand, I have not seen John Kerry demonstrate a single leadership quality during his entire campaign. I have no idea if either, neither, or both of them excel in the role of husband or father. But I do know who's getting my vote.