You Can Never Not Lead

We are always leading. While a lot of what we do seems benign, there’s a motive behind everything we do. And people are always watching. Almost nothing we do is in complete secret. The question is ‘In what direction are we leading?’ Toward goodness…or away? Toward strong character….or away? Toward Jesus… or away?

Nowhere is this principle more apparent and amplified than in Hollywood. With “paparazzi” always on the scene, a star’s every move is watched by millions. And whether they want to accept it or not, people…especially young people …are following them, copying them. Their clothes, their tattoos, their behavior and the decisions they’re making.

The sports world is the same. When Charles Barkley was a player, he made the now-famous declaration that he “wasn’t a role model”. He realized the weight of responsibility carried by a successful professional basketball player and tried to shuck it. He couldn’t. No one can. Funny that even today as a commentator, whenever someone says “That’s terr-a- ble”, it’s someone copying Charles Barkley.

As fathers, this principle needs to be front and center. Our kids are always watching what we do. They’re watching how we handle pressure. How we eat, drink, exercise, rest and take care of our bodies. How we treat their mom. How we make decisions. How we handle conflict. How what we say matches up with what we do. How we respond to ‘the least of these’ and people in need.

One of the unforgettable pictures from my “BC” days was heading out to the driveway to wash the car one Saturday afternoon. I had my jam-box in one hand and a six-pack of Miller Lite in the other. I looked back and my son was following me, toting his little jam-box and a six-pack of Coke he’d taken from the pantry. It was a moment of clarity I’ve never forgotten. He was doing his version of what he saw me doing. That’s what our kids do. Even when they grow up.

Too many of us try to be apples instead of onions. We put a shiny, red skin on the outside for our kids and others to see. We want to look like good Christian men who go to church and do everything right. But inside, we might be sweet, sour, crisp, mealy, bruised, or just plain rotten. On the other hand, an onion is the same all the way through. When a man decides to be all-in with Jesus, life gets simpler. No more posing. No more posturing. No more acting one way in front of your kids and another way at work. No more ‘golf course’ vocabulary when you’re with your buddies and ‘God-speak’ around church people.

Matthew 6:33 says “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you”. “Seek” is an action word. You can’t ‘seek’ passively. You have to initiate to seek. The first place for leadership is self-leadership and “seeking His righteousness” means becoming an ‘onion’. Asking Him for the courage to remove everything that’s not ‘onion’ from our lives. Asking Him for the faith to say and do what is right, even when it’s hard. And mustering the will to lead consistently…to be God’s man…inside and out.


Question: Are you ready to embrace your full-time leadership responsibility? Are you ready to chunk the apple and become an onion? Tell us about it here….. 

12 Responses

  1. Todd says:

    Regi, with my 3 young boys and a wife far better than I deserve this is better than gold, thanks.

    It also was an incredible list of reasons and benefits for men taking the step of going through as it certainly leaves the apple on the shelf and brings out the onion, peels it back and shows all what’s inside. It also is an exemplary way to model humility, obedience, and priorities to those that look to us for leadership.

    The keyword for me from your post is courage.


  2. Rene Sandifer says:

    I know this is written with Fathers especially in mind. But this is so true in more ways than one. After desperately/needing a woman mentor in our church (my husband had just joined the staff) and asking the Lord to raise one up, pleading for Him to raise one up; at 50 I heard Him say “YOU be the mentor you so desperately needed. YOU love women. YOU invite them to study my word and apply. YOU share your authenticity.” Now 3 years later, as I continue to be faithful with what He entrusts me to, I have looked and seen that though I thought I was only affecting a few handfuls that came/come to my studies, there are several small groups beginning from them, pursuing women and loving God’s word in their sphere of influence. I am overjoyed at HIS doing. And so grateful for His leading.
    “They” ARE watching. Everywhere. Yes, especially when you are not aware. I almost forgot that my four children (even as young adults) are constantly watching as well. Thank you for reminding me they are ever learning and watching, too.
    Your posts are always so spot on. Thank you.

    • Regi Campbell says:

      What you’ve said is what I hope many will say….”Why not me? What holds me back from pouring what God’s put in my cup into the cups of those coming behind me?” We’ll never know it all….not even close. But we can at least share what we’ve learned with others. And that calling is failed before it starts if we’re inauthentic in our faith, being one way in one environment and another in others.

  3. Brian H says:

    One of the guys in my current RM group had a dad who was heavily involved in his church even being an elder. He also frequented strip clubs and lived a life of complete duality. It shocks me that his son still came to faith after witnessing that. I also imagine the effects of that will have long lasting consequences.

    • Regi Campbell says:

      The keyword these days is authenticity. Without it, we have no voice at all. Thanks for the comment Brian.

  4. Regi,

    We’ve found this to be true because of our youth group. There were times when us youth leaders thought we were only leading on Wednesday nights. Come to find out the youth were watching more than just Wednesday nights. They could see our actions on Facebook, around town, etc. We were never not leading.

    • Regi Campbell says:

      That’s one of the biggest criticisms I hear from young people. Their Young Life leaders, Sunday school teachers and small group leaders talk the talk on Sunday but forget to walk the walk the rest of the week. They ask “Which one’s real?”

  5. Hoo says:


    As always an excellent article.

    I completely agree.

    I know I must lead intentionally.

    However, I’m burnt out right now.

    Can you perhaps write something along the lines of how to address what “rest” means to you and how you execute it as a leader in the family and else where?

  6. John Richie says:

    Kids stop listening to what you say in their mid teens but they watch you like a hawk. They are not picky judges looking for irrelevant inconsistency but are instead desperately looking to confirm that you really believe what you say and that they can trust it too.

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