Hearts Over Compliance

Hearts Over Compliance
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“I want their hearts, not their compliance.” – Becky Oehlerking

This simple quote shook me deeply when I heard it. We were at a homeschool conference and Mrs. Oehlerking, a homeschooling mom who homeschooled through a fight with cancer, made the statement.

She meant it in terms of her children, and honestly, if I think of my daughters, it made complete sense. I want the hearts of my daughters, not just compliance to the rules of the house.

You see, if we have the hearts of our children then they will want to obey us, but if all we are getting is compliance without love and respect, then the compliance will be fleeting. It won’t be long before you begin to ask yourself, “What happened to my good little girl who used to be so obedient and compliant? How did she fall away?”

Chances are, the answer will be as simple as, “You never had her heart.”

In his book Choose Love Not Power: How to Right the World’s Wrongs from a Place of Weakness, Dr. Tony Campolo points out, “Parents want their children to voluntarily do what is good; they do not want to force their children to be obedient. They want their children to do what is right because they are motivated by love and reason, rather than by threats of punishment.” This is where having your your child’s heart comes into play. You see, as humans we distinctively want to have power. Friedrick Nietzsche stated that “the will to power” was a basic human drive. This may be so, but I would also argue that as parents, we would much rather have our children obey us out of love than out of the fact that we can demonstrate power over them.

When I first became a dad, I wasn’t that good at it. I yelled a lot. I tried to maintain control over my children through the power of raising my voice. I wanted compliance. As I have grown older, balder and wiser I have learned that yelling and threats do not work. I much prefer my girls voluntarily do what is good. I want them to obey because they are filled with love and because they feel loved.

“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of His call. May  He give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you do to.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11 (NLT)

As I walk out this adventure, I’ve been on this magical quest for discovering God’s call on my life, and at times I get frustrated. I get frustrated in not having a Paul on the road to Damascus type moment, or a Samuel in the house of Eli moment – frustrated in not hearing the clear, audible voice experience and knowing without a shadow of a doubt, exactly what God’s call on my life is.

But…when I was at Bethel this summer, I received a lot of encouraging words from complete strangers about being a good dad, and reminders that I am deeply loved by my children. Perhaps then, calling and profession do not have to go hand-in-hand. I am called to be a dad. I am called to love my children and know that I finally have their hearts and not just obedience.

Your turn

If you’re a parent, how do maintain the hearts of your children? Have you always looked for compliance? Are you on a power play with your kids?

If your not quite a parent yet, what was your experience? Did your parents have your heart or only your obedience out of fear?

This week I am going to have another free tool from Michael Hyatt that will help you assess where you are right now in your life, make sure and subscribe so you don’t miss it.