Power and Influence

You never have more power over a child’s life than when you first bring them home from the hospital!  That little baby will stay where you put them all day!  You don’t have to even wonder about it.  Just throw the blanket down where you want the little one to stay…and they’re glued down by gravity.  At this stage everything has more power than your child.

How quickly things change….

Parental authority based upon the power of position alone will soon erode.  When the kid is very little he will obey because you’re so much bigger and can basically make him.  The “because I say so” mantra is more or less effective.

But the parenting approach must quickly shift from power to influence as the child grows.  The child’s heart must be trained in the things of God and how to allow His Spirit to overcome their self-centered bent.  They must see the love and integrity of their parent(s) and learn by experience that they truly have the child’s best interests in mind.  Here’s a chart that reflects this dynamic:

The principle reflected in this chart is applicable to just about every relationship that is based upon some sort of authority.  Here we’re talking about  child rearing, but it applies in business, politics, and just about anywhere else as well.  As time passes, your leadership must shift from power to influence.

People will conform to your will only as long as they have to…unless they respect you and come to share your vision and values.  If they have experienced the benefits and blessings of your leadership, they will follow you because of influence and not simply power.

The love and wisdom of my parents and the clear benefits brought into my life through their influence and instruction, trained my heart to love the truth and to truly believe that God had my best interests in mind.

Since I was in my mid to late teens, I do not recall an instance where either of my parents insisted that I obey them simply because “they said so”.  I don’t remember them threatening me or trying to bribe me into submission to their will. 

Their influence and training had already gotten inside my heart.  When I left home I carried the infection with me!

There is no substitute for influence.  It takes time to build it.  But it takes very little time to lose it!  And that’s a sober warning to all of us who are in “positions” of authority.

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