Leading or pushing?

Posted on · Posted in Gospel, Parenting

Do you lead your children or do you push them? Leading is born out of love and pushing is born out of frustration. For example, pushing your children towards obedience is evidenced when you tell your children that you demand obedience and speak sharply to them because you love them and only want the best for them. Children are seldom convinced they are loved in this way. It appears to them as if they are being pushed into doing what mom and dad want.

In contrast, leading in love means that sharp words are replaced with pleasant words. Demands are replaced with understanding leadership that recognizes the battles with sin are not won by force of will but by dependence on Christ. Leading means praying with your children rather than scolding or lecturing.

If you are to lead your children towards Christ, you must first be blown away by what Christ has done for you on the cross. You must love being led by God’s Spirit through his word. Then, this love for God and his commands is to overflow from your heart into the everyday situations of life that you and your children encounter. It is this combination of loving God and living out his commands in everyday life that will allow you to impress the love you have for God into the lives of your children. This is what it means to lead. This is the pattern that is taught by Deuteronomy 6:5-7 and in Ephesians 6:1-4.

Even as you embrace this deep love for God that Deuteronomy requires, your children will be still the same sinful creatures that desperately need the grace of God. You will have to continue to discipline, train, and patiently endure the challenges of being a parent. The difference will be that you will not be pushing your children to grasp what remains elusive to you. Rather you will be leading them to do the things that you love doing. You will be leading them to the same place that you long to go – to the cross.

Living out Deuteronomy 6 in this way requires dependence upon Christ to do what you cannot do in your own strength. It is this dependence that will lead you and your children closer to God and his beauty.

Instructing a Child's Heart

Instructing a Child’s Heart

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.