"Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God." -Psalm 42:11-
It has been said that the best leaders in history excelled in leading themselves first and that this entailed talking to rather than listening to themselves.David was no stranger to despondency, but was well groomed in the ability to counter these thoughts with reminders of his true identity and the victorious future it promises. Scripture depicts him in open, honest conversations with God and himself over the battles of fear and unbelief raging within.
Could it be that David's open discourse with God and self, resulting in an ability to self-inspire, motivate and regulate, played a key role in setting him up for prolific leadership and the legacy of being a man after God's own heart? I have little doubt that this was the case and thus regard the transfer of self-regulatory skills as a top priority for the intentional parent. All small children ( and sometimes not so small!) struggle with the inability to understand themselves emotionally. Left unaddressed, this will lead to levels of blame-shifting and relational dysfunctionality none of us need in our lives!
My wife, who is an Occupational Therapist, was the one who taught me the importance of this. Ever since our boys were about three years old, she kept a very close gauge on their emotional well-being; often assisting them in naming the emotional issue they were battling with and helping them identify counter-thoughts and activities that will lighten their load. Now, at age seven, she would still assist in recognizing the roots of their despondency. Often she would suggest that the relevant boy withdraw to his room to work it through and come up with a counter-thought on his own. At times when the internal battle is too intense, she would ask the little guy's permission to join him on the big red cushion in his room. Lying next to him, she would act as both a comforter and thinking-partner in co-identifying the perceptions lurking behind the negative emotions. These would then be weighed up against the truths and promises of God's Word. Needless to say; it has the desired effect every time! Prayerfully and with humble expectation, I await the day our boys will be able to master the skill of self-regulation, turning them into mature men. Men after the Fathers own heart!