“BECAUSE I SAID SO…” (6 Differences Between Command and Influence)
The classic parent response to almost anything is “because I said so….”
Why do I have to eat my broccoli? Because I said so!
Why do I have to go to bed early? Because I said so!
Why should I stop kicking my sister? Ummm…because I SAID SO!!!
It is the go-to in the parenting repertoire of commands and explanations. We tell our kids to do something or not do something, and we expect they will obey us because we have commanded them out of our parental authority. We can force them to do something out of expectation and obligation, but is that what is going to change our child ultimately? Is that how God the Father leads and loves us as His children?
We, of course, have commands from God, like the 10 Commandments, which are God’s tools for when His children have rejected His love and influence over and over. His commands are the thing He uses when His children have completely lost a relationship with Him. Like the child that is about to run out into traffic, God does give us commands. Commands are the base level of leadership in any situation, the simple “because I said so” to do or not to do.
Influence, on the other hand, is the highest level of leadership, especially in our home. Continual influence over time can change the dynamic of how we lead our children and changes them as people. Here are 6 differences between commands versus influence.
AUTHORITY VS. ACCEPTANCE
We must choose how we will lead and guide our children. Will we lead them out the commands of our authority over them, or will we lead out the influence of our acceptance of them?
We can see this shift in how we were parented versus how we may choose to parent. Generationally, there is a difference in parenting. The pendulum may swing too far either way with parents being “the boss” or being “the friend.” We can find a balance of influencing our children through our continued acceptance of where they are, guiding them to what they can be while still maintaining our godly leadership role as their parent.
CAPACITY VS. COMMISSION
Often as parents, we want our kids to “live up to their potential.” We say things like “you are capable of so much more….” Parenting to our children’s capacity is commanding their best humanly in their talents and abilities. Parenting as Godly influencers seek to grow our children in their Godly commission.
We need to seek to influence them to live out their calling and use their spiritual giftedness.
OBLIGATION VS. OPPORTUNITY
We love to quote the command that our children are obligated to, “Honor your father and mother…”, but we often forget the second half of the verse that there is an opportunity to “..live long in the land the Lord has given you.”
God repeats the words in Ephesians 6 and adds on some additional influence instructions for parents too, “… not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
When we only lead our families out of obligation, we may be missing the opportunity to influence them in claiming God’s blessings and instructions. Do we want our kids only to live God’s words out of obligation, or would we rather have our children love God’s word because they have understood the opportunities He provides?
EXPECTATION VS. EXCELLENCE
We all expect our children, our hope, and prayers for them. These things are lived out in our expectations of behaviors. These expectations often turn into rules that we command them to obey. We measure our success as parents based on their obedience to the rules.
When we seek to parent beyond more than expectations, we are looking for more than good behavior. We are influencing them toward excellence of life. Expectations may lead us to good kids. The influence will lead us to godly children.
RESPONSE VS. RESPECT
“Don’t talk back!” How often have we said that phrase? How often are we upset by our children’s reaction to something we have asked them to do? When we command our children to do something, we expect them to respond in obedience. We said it…they respond by doing it.
When we are seeking more than command and response but instead invested influence, what we may find is we are heard out of earned respect.
Like our relationship with God the Father, we listen not out of “being afraid of fear” but out of “respectful honoring fear.” (Proverbs 9:10) Often, even as parents, we confuse those two different kinds of “fear.”
LEADERSHIP VS. LOVE
We want to lead our family and children well. We may be a leader in other places, but the most crucial leadership we have is being a parent. We can lead our children as their commander, as they will follow in step, but eventually, this may lead to resistance or even rebellion.
As godly parents, we have a relational opportunity to influence them through our relationship with our loving heavenly Father. They are not just our children, but they are also His children. He lovingly influences us, so we can pass on His love in influencing them.
Move beyond the “Because-I-said-so” command style of parent leadership by fully understanding the power of the influence of God’s love on our families, children, and ourselves.
Dan Istvanik has been working in youth ministry for 25 years, serving in churches in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington DC. He is a speaker, ministry coach, writer, and contributor to other ministry resources. You can contact Dan at www.mymresources.com, where he shares student ministry resources.
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