Leading with love is not an optional performance package to go along with basic parenting. This is basic biblical parenting. God and his word are special, precious treasure. Nothing else that we possess can begin to compare in value to knowing God and his word. (Psalm 119:72; Proverbs 3:15)
Thus, leading with love is a not a lofty goal that should you hope someday to possibly achieve. Rather it is a command of God. Stealing is not something that we hope one day to leave behind. You won’t find someone at church happily announcing to others that she is making real progress with learning not to steal; “why yesterday I only stole twice.” But when it comes to raising voices or speaking sharply with children, this is exactly the sort of logic that is used. “I used to yell all the time, now I hardly ever do it; well almost hardly ever.” This is thought of as progress. Well, in one sense, I suppose it is. But this sort of progress should be looked upon with repentance, not something to share as an accomplishment.
Proverbs 1:8&9, teach that instructing children is like placing fine jewelry around their necks. Children are to be adorned with the word of God. Again, adorning children is not an extra credit, optional assignment. Adorning children with biblical wisdom is what sets biblical parenting apart from the controlling parenting of the world.
As always, when God commands that something be done, he also supplies the means for carrying out his commands. In this case the means of adornment is to be done with pleasant words. Proverbs 16:20-24 says pleasant words will promote or enhance instruction. Pleasant words point to peace, wisdom and understanding. Lack of understanding leads to folly and punishment. Pleasant words are not idle, fine sounding words of sophistication. They are the words of everyday life to be embraced with all of our heart.
Pushing children is not done with pleasant words. Pushing children to obey is done with speech that rotates between cajoling, self pity, pleading, harshness and angry tones. These are all forms of manipulation. Pushing children does just what the name describes, it pushes them away. The language of pushing is often cool, detached and stern. The words of love are pleasant words of hope and compassion.
In contrast to pushing, Christ calls to you when you are weary and burdened to come to him and find rest and refreshment. Jesus does not push you to obedience. He lovingly commands you to obey. He endured every temptation you will ever face so he could help you in your time of need. Your children need no less. They also need rest and refreshment. Use pleasant words to lead your children to Christ.
For more information on pleasant words check out Instructing a Child’s Heart and Everyday Talk. Both are available at shepherdpress.com. For a limited time you can get them both at a 40% discount by using the code SPBLOG.