I reached for my belt, hung in its normal place and lifted–it didn’t budge. I resisted my natural tendency to tighten my grip on the belt, bear-down, and give it a strong pull to free it. My mind overruled my initial response. The buckle was caught on the wireframe shelf, and more force would not have been beneficial. What was necessary was a gentle repositioning of the buckle, and it immediately came free.
Men (okay, and definitely teenage boys) have this natural tendency that if something isn’t responding quite right, get a bigger hammer, and apply more force. Eventually, we learn, sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. The times it doesn’t work so well is in human relationships.
Applying more force to tender, developing hearts may achieve outward compliance for a time, but is a fast-track for creating mere outward compliance which covers up a rebellious heart. Dads: slow, gentle, loving guidance is critical for developing hearts in our children that desire to obey our God and us as parents (in the nurture and admonition of the Lord).
“And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die” (Genesis 33:13).