The Dad Who Leads By Asking

Oct 11, 2019

Recently my wife, an analytical software engineer, complained to me for the umpteenth time. Our eleven-year old son was again fighting her tooth and nail to avoid doing simple math homework.

Math is his best school subject. He loves it. But it quickly becomes the hardest one in the world if his mother sits him down to do it, when he’d rather play video games.

As my wife grumbled, I suddenly remembered to ask the solution rather than state it. “Why do you think that is?” I said, quizzically.


She named three reasons for the boy’s stubbornness:

• Our sons respond with more nerve and defiance to women than men
• Kids in general prefer screen time to homework
• She has trouble changing her way of speaking to them

I paused, waiting to create a smidge of tension. Then I said, “Of those three things, which one do you believe is the easiest to change?”

You could hear the logical wheels turning as she pondered the question.

“Obviously, you’re not interested in getting a sex change, so we’ll have to adjust for the fact that you’re a woman,” I joked. She relaxed a little.

“Then of course, there’s no arguing taste,” I mused, as the dominoes began to fall.

She finished the quiz: “I suppose the easiest thing for me to change is how I speak to them.”



Have we ever had so much free access to information? Yet it’s clear – we are more invested than ever in learning everything except what matters most.

How to effectively, lovingly communicate with each other.

As the priest and shepherd of your family, you have to show people the way things work … often without telling them you’re showing them.

(Pay attention here, guys … it’s very reassuring and attractive to wives if men can calmly demonstrate how to solve a problem without lecturing, complaining or criticizing).

I called in our son and sat him down. I sat between them, with his math homework in my lap.

“Grant,” I said to him, “here you have a zero with three digits to the right of the decimal. Are those digits tenths, hundredths or thousandths?”

“Thousandths,” he answered, with zero hesitation.

“Ok, so how do we express that as a fraction? What is the denominator?”

“One thousand,” he said.

“Ok, so if the number is 0.048, what is the numerator? How many thousandths is that?”

“Forty-eight,” he replied.

“Correct. But is that fraction in its simplest form?”

“No,” he said. “It can be reduced.”

“To what?”

“Twenty-four over five hundred.”

“Is that the lowest it can go?”

“No …”

We continued down the line until he’d finally calculated the right answer. I turned to my wife.

“How many statements did you hear me make to him?” I asked. She shook her head and said, “None.”


You may say, “That’s all very nice. But our problem is not the same as yours. We can get our kids to do homework.”

I hope you have a child who easily receives this kind of information without resisting. However, their resistance will come up elsewhere.

The problem may even be between you and your beloved. “Yeah,” you might sneer, “my wife would never admit she’s the problem.”

To that I would respond, “I don’t think my wife to be ‘the problem.’ I think how she handles communicating to my son is the problem.”

It’s hardly a stretch for most women to concede that they misinterpret (or correctly reject) poor communication from their husbands.

If your wife survived teenage intra-female relationships, she can almost certainly concede that even her clearest sentiments are subject to misunderstanding … or worse.

None of this changes another reality: even the best communicators in the world get no further if they resort to spouting information. Neither will you.

You won’t get there by being authoritarian, intimidating people into fearful obedience.

Nor will it profit you or those you lead to become supple and let them get their way all the time.

In this moment, I had to question both my son and my wife to get them to invest more than defiant tones, white noise and empty words.

We want buy-in. Cooperation. Proper, balanced alignment of priorities.

Strong leaders know this. The best ones hardly ever bark orders like a military sergeant – including those who wear military uniforms.

They want subordinates who are invested in good outcomes. Asking intelligent questions is among the world’s best and most reliable vehicles for developing them.

When your children are grown, don’t you want them to ask the same kind of questions you’ve learned to ask yourself, before making a decision?

Then learn to ask questions. Intelligent questions. Irresistible ones, which compel the people you’re asking to think.


Our Lord provides excellent, traditional, Jewish rhetorical examples of this …

“The LORD God called to Adam, ‘Where are you?’”

“The LORD said to Abraham, ‘Is anything too hard for God?’”

“There the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”

“The Lord said to Jeremiah, ‘What do you see?’”

“Which one of you, if your son asks him for bread, will give him a snake?”

“What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I say?’”

“What does it say in the Law and the Prophets … how do you interpret it?”

“John’s baptism … was it from heaven, or from men?”

We don’t read these questions and think God asked them because he didn’t have Google and needed information!

We should notice, however, that every time he asked them, even to opponents, no one could argue or offer alternatives.

God always teaches us answers he already knows, which our silence and/or answers confirm.

As fathers, I believe it’s a great way for us to elicit and enjoy the respect of our wives and children.


This is a huge component of the true path of godly leadership. It always gives the person beckoned to follow the choice to accept or reject.

“Choose this day whom you will serve,” Joshua told the Israelites … and God has always presented his people with choices.

We too must choose … to lead the people in our care by asking them to follow. Not by saying, “Will you follow me?” That’s too obvious.

“Which path do you think is the right one?” is a better way of asking. Because ultimately you’re supposed to point them down God’s path, not yours.

As an epilogue, both Mom and son are working just a little harder at trying to communicate better … and that is the choice God wants us to make, because it pleases Him the same way it pleases us.

Paul Edwards
Guest Discerning Dad

Paul Edwards is the international bestselling author of “Business Beyond Business,” host of the “Influencer Networking Secrets” Podcast and a strategic connector and mastermind facilitator. You can learn more about him at

Guest- Paul Edwards- The Dad Who Leads by Asking

VIDEO A principled principal who’s a powerful example

Laura Hollis spotlights leader of high school with impactful video for his ‘kids’

Sept 5, 2019

The principal of Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana, is a gentleman named Shawn Henderson. Henderson has been Riley’s principal for two years, and his affection for and dedication to the school has endeared him to the students and their families. It is evident in everything he says and does. In addition to his own administrative responsibilities, Henderson attends as many athletic and club events, school competitions and student performances as any given 24-hour day will allow (and his Twitter feed is proof).

Henderson is a physically imposing man, tall and muscular, but has an affable demeanor and a contagious grin. In every conversation with him about Riley, he exhibits that quality that excellent educators strive for: a commitment to high standards fueled by love of the students and belief in their capabilities.

Last week, Henderson released a brief but powerful video on YouTube that offers an even deeper glimpse into the strength of his character.

In one of what he calls his “Fireside Chat Conversation With Mr. Henderson” – this one recorded on a street corner in South Bend – he tells the story of how he almost killed his best friend 25 years earlier, at that very location.

In the video, Henderson explains that hatred, gang violence and even murder were common in his neighborhood, and it affected his view of himself. “I didn’t know what ‘being the best you’ meant. So I wanted to be everything that everyone else was,” he says. Henderson and his friend were standing out on that street corner that August evening in 1994 and saw a guy walk by who they knew carried a weapon. Henderson called out to him, “Hey, man. Let me see your gun.”

The man removed the clip and gave the gun to Henderson, who, thinking that there were no bullets in the gun, jokingly held it to his best friend’s head, more than once.

Henderson relates that they were all laughing and cutting up. “I was going to pull the trigger. Because I thought it was the cool thing to do.”

But he hesitated. “I kept hearing this voice say, ‘Cock it back.’ … When I cocked the gun back and put it up to my friend’s head again, a bullet fell out of it. There was one in the chamber.”

Henderson pauses at this point in the video, and the realization of what almost happened resonates just as strongly in his voice today as it must have when he was a high school freshman. He is blunt when he acknowledges how close he came to destroying a life and a family, all because of teenage bravado and poor choice of role models. “(I was) mimicking things that I’d seen on TV, mimicking things that I’d heard in music videos,” he said.

The story is dramatic, but the lesson, Henderson feels, is a simple one: He did not know what being his best self was. So he closes the video with this admonition for his students: “(M)y words today is to tell you to ‘Be the best you.’ There’s gonna be temptations out there. There’s gonna be obstacles that you’re gonna face. There’s gonna be a lot of challenges and different things that you may not want to do, and you may feel like quitting, but don’t quit.”

I spoke with Henderson a few days after the video was released, and he stated that although he had shared the story with individual students in the past, this was the first time he had made a public statement about it. The timing was right, he says, because students today face even more challenges than he did.

“Sure, we had movies and music videos,” he says. “But students today have the internet, smartphones and social media. They’re exposed to everything, and it’s 24/7.”

That pervasive culture is hard to counter, Henderson says. He also expressed concern that so many of Riley’s students face pressure not to achieve. “They want to fit in, like we all did,” he explains. “But being their best selves is not accepted by some of their peers.”

In that climate, Henderson believes that the best approach is openness and honesty. “The faculty and I want to focus on building relationships,” he says. “I’m open with the students. I don’t lie to them.”

Henderson made the video because he wants his students to understand that he faced many of the same challenges they do – and that he overcame them. So when he tells them, “I believe in your potential,” they believe him.

Shawn Henderson has been surprised by the positive reaction he has received to his video. He shouldn’t be. He may have intended his video for Riley High School students, but his message has a much broader audience. No matter what their circumstances, young people can find themselves teetering on the precipice of decisions that have tragic, permanent consequences.

It takes courage to admit one’s own failings, especially in a leadership position. But the power of example is more persuasive than perhaps any other lesson can be. Shawn Henderson is that kind of exemplary educator.

Original here

VIDEO 5 Things Pastors Need to Stop Doing Immediately

Shane Idleman
Contributor to Sept 10, 2019

5 Things Pastors Need to Stop Doing Immediately

Pastors, we are not just cheerleaders, we are game-changers. We are called to stir and to convict so that change takes place. Granted, there are many wonderful pastors and churches—I appreciate their ministry, but, as a whole, the church has drifted off course. They have lost the compass of truth – many are more concerned about wine tasting and craft beers than truly seeking the heart of God.  

The pulpit regulates the spiritual condition of God’s people which affects the nation. A lukewarm, sex-saturated culture (and church) simply reflects the lack of conviction in the pulpit as well as the pew.

Pastors and Christian leaders alike must take responsibility for the spiritual health of today’s church, and the nation. We don’t need more marketing plans, demographic studies, or giving campaigns; we need men filled with the Spirit of God.

This is not a letter of rebuke (I’m in no position to do that) – it’s a tear-stained plea that we once again seek the heart of God. Here are five issues we need to overcome:

1. Stop watering down the gospel. The truth is often watered-down in the hope of not offending members and building a large audience. Judgment is never mentioned and repentance is rarely sought. We want to build a church rather than break a heart; be politically correct rather than biblically correct; coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict. The power of the gospel is found in the truth about the gospel – the edited version does not change lives.

2. Stop focusing only on encouragement. We all need encouragement, that’s a given, but most people feel beaten down because they’re not hearing more about repentance – “repent and experience times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord” (cf. Acts 3:19). To truly help people, we must preach the difficult truths as well as the joyful ones; preach the cross and the new life; preach hell and preach heaven; preach damnation and preach salvation; preach sin and preach grace; preach wrath and preach love; preach judgment and preach mercy; preach obedience and preach forgiveness; preach that God “is love,” but don’t forget that God is just. It is the love of God that compels us to share all of His truth.

3. Stop getting your message from pop-psychology or the latest fad. All of us must return to the prayer closet where brokenness, humility, and full surrender take place. God prepares the messenger before we prepare the message. Without prayer, “the church becomes a graveyard, not an embattled army. Praise and prayer are stifled; worship is dead. The preacher and the preaching encourage sin, not holiness…preaching which kills is prayerless preaching. Without prayer, the preacher creates death, and not life” (E.M. Bounds). “Without the heartbeat of prayer, the body of Christ will resemble a corpse. The church is dying on her feet because she is not living on her knees” (Al Whittinghill).

4. Stop trying to be like the world. If a pastor fills his mind with the world all week and expects the Spirit of God to speak boldly through him from the pulpit, he will be gravely mistaken. “The sermon cannot rise in its life-giving forces above the man. Dead men give out dead sermons, and dead sermons kill. Everything depends on the spiritual character of the preacher” (E.M. Bounds). Who he is all week is who he will be when he steps to the pulpit. We are called to the separated life guided by the Holy Spirit not Hollywood.

When God brings change, separation and prayer have been the catalyst. The dry, dead lethargic condition of the church simply reflects our lack of being filled with the Spirit. While 5-minute devotionals and prayers are good, they aren’t going to cut it in these dire times. We need powerful times of prayer, devotion, and worship. Again, God prepares the messenger before we prepare the message. It takes broken men to break men. Unplug the tv, turn off Facebook, and get back into the Word, prayer, and worship.

5. Stop asking, “Will this topic offend my audience?” and start asking, “Will my silence offend God?”A paraphrase that is often attributed to Alexis De Tocqueville—a Frenchman who authored Democracy in America in the early 1800s, helps to better understand this point: “I looked throughout America to find where her greatness originated. I looked for it in her harbors and on her shorelines, in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and in her gold mines and vast world commerce, but it was not there…It was not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her success. America is great because she is good, and if America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Is your pulpit aflame with righteousness – it all begins here.

More at

Watch, I Remember When the Church Prayed

Photo courtesy: Getty Images/4 Maksym

Video courtesy: Shane Idleman