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on Leading the Next Generation


A Leadership Lesson From Ancient Egypt

If you’re like me, you oversee young people as part of your job, whether you’re a parent, teacher, coach, employer, youth pastor or mentor. We learn an intriguing lesson from ancient Egypt about how parent’s led their children in the home. Unlike other cultures that seemed to prepare children for their life ahead, ancient Egyptians almost seemed to prepare their children for death.

According to the book, Egypt and the Egyptians, young men and women were essentially raised to take over for their parents when they became elderly, a relatively short period of time given that Egyptian men in peasant society lived an average life span of 33 years and women only made it to 29. Formal education was lacking, so most kids learned about morality, work, faith, and more at home.

But it all led up to the kids taking over…everything. They had to be ready to run the house; take care of the chores, work the fields and generate income. Hence, it was all about getting ready. Ready for when it all belonged to them.

No doubt, this priority can be taken too far—but I wonder if we can learn from the Egyptians. We live so much in the “now” that we fail to prepare our children for life without us. Really, the top job of a parent or leader is to teach kids how to get along without them; to work ourselves out of a job; to empower the follower to “get” it (click to tweet).

Question: How are you getting your young people ready to live without you?


  1. Pat Batchelor on August 23, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Great Article Tim…

    Love your kids like you wont have them tomorrow, and train your kids like they wont have you tomorrow!! Great balanced perspective.

    • Tim Elmore on August 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Great way to remember it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Roger Nielsen on August 23, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Thanks Tim,
    Love your articles. Just read The Power Of Partnerships that you and John wrote. It’s good to have mentors in different areas of life. John ( leadership), Skipper (Holiness and Godly living), and you with children, youth, and the next generation. Thanks Tim for being who HE created you to be, not a carbon copy of anyone else.
    Looking forward to meeting you in person in the near future.

    • Tim Elmore on August 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks so much Roger! I appreciate the encouragement and you sharing how you’re practicing this principle. Look forward to meeting you, too!

  3. Dave Arnold on August 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks, Tim. Good reminder. I work with refugees and immigrants from the Middle East in East Dearborn, MI and see this type of thing first-hand. The kids, when grown, take full responsibility for their parents: not nursing homes or assisted living. It’s so different than American families. I’ve learned so much from this culture.

    • Tim Elmore on August 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      Wow! Great example. Thanks for sharing!

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A Leadership Lesson From Ancient Egypt