Fathers and mothers, not Harvard Business School, are raising the next generation of leaders. Those who will lead families, churches, businesses, and even government in coming decades are presently receiving leadership-training in our own homes. We may not realize it, but we are qualifying (or disqualifying) our children for influential and effective leadership by how we are parenting them. And if our children are to lead in any realm of life, then we must develop optimism in them.

An optimistic view of people
First, we must teach our children to have an optimistic view of people. Matt Perman recently blogged about how the best leaders have a high view of people.

If you don’t have a high view of people, you shouldn’t lead. If leadership involves lifting people up to do and become more than they realized they could, then you can’t do this if you look down on people or think that most people are not capable of much.

Matt based this on the truth of us all being made in the image of God. Of course, that image is significantly damaged and defaced by sin, but its outline remains. And that is not to deny total depravity. In fact, Christians who believe in total depravity should have an even more optimistic view of people. Because we believe that grace is more powerful than sin. We believe that where sin abounds, there can grace much more abound.

If children are brought up in a pessimistic home where neighbors, “friends,” pastors, teachers, and other family members are verbally “hung, drawn, and quartered” at every meal, then they are not going to have a high view of people. If only the negatives and failures of people’s lives are discussed then they will develop a hopelessly pessimistic view of everyone.

But if children are nurtured in an environment where conversions are rejoiced over, growth in grace and gifts is celebrated, and even evidences of God’s image or “common grace” in the unconverted are celebrated, then children are going to see the potential of every individual. They will look on even the most hopeless cases with believing optimism.

An optimistic view of the future
In the same article Matt went on to say that the best leaders also have a high view of the future. He quotes Marcus Buckingham who says that one of the essential talents of leadership is optimism, because “leaders rally people to a better future.”

If you don’t believe that the future can be made better, then nobody will want to (or should want to–that would be strange) go to the future that you have in mind.

Again, Matt grounded this forward-looking optimism in the truth, this time upon the biblical doctrine of providence.

If parents express cynicism and suspicion about every new event or endeavor in the school or in the church or in business, then children are not going to be enthusiastic about innovating, creating, or leading themselves. But if parents encourage new ventures, stimulate creativity, speak confidently about the future, and express their trust in God’s providence, that produces a rich and hopeful soil in which strong leadership can germinate, grow, and eventually come to full flower. 

An optimistic view of God
So, if we want to produce godly leaders for the home, the church, and the state, we must begin now in our own homes and raise children with an optimistic view of people and an optimistic view of the future. And this is all rooted in an optimistic and high view of God.