Do your children feel led or pushed? Are you as a parent dominated by love or frustration? The two questions are tightly connected. Leading is born out of love and pushing is born out of frustration. As parents we may tell our children that we demand obedience and speak sharply because we love them and only want the best for them. Most likely our children are not buying this explanation. It feels to them as if they are being manipulated into doing what mom and dad want.
But God has better way. Proverbs 16:20-21 calls it pleasant words.
“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.”
Focusing on pleasant words encourages your children. Pleasant words also point to the true motivation which should guide each parent: conveying a deep love of God from the heart. This what the Holy Spirit commands you to do. You are to take the truths of God’s word, weave them into fabric of your heart and then present your heart to your children. This is what Deuteronomy 6:5-7 is teaching:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
So, you as a parent are to deeply love God with all that you are as a person. This love is expressed by drinking deeply of his commands so that your heart is permeated with them. Then, this love for God and his commands is to overflow from your heart with pleasant words into the everyday life that you and your children inhabit.
It is this combination of loving God and speaking pleasant words that will enable you to lead rather than push. Even as you embrace this deep love for God that Deuteronomy requires you to have, your children will still be sinful creatures that desperately need the grace of God. The difference will be that you will not be pushing them to grasp what remains elusive to you. Rather you will be leading them to the same place that you long to go – to the cross.
Are you pushing or leading? Think about it.
Jay Younts is the author of “Everyday Talk: Talking freely and Naturally about God with Your Children” and “Everyday Talk about Sex & Marriage.” He blogs at ShepherdPress.com, where this article (reprinted with permission) first appeared under the title “Pushing or leading?”