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We naturally want what’s best for those we love. But often in our zeal we tend to demand the good on our terms – becoming a bully even with the best of intentions. While love provides the good, it also invites and does not demand its own way.

In many ways, this is like the concept of catching more flies with honey than vinegar. Even when our motivations are good, people will still be repelled by our efforts when it’s as appealing as a mouthful of vinegar.

For instance, it does little good to yell at our kid to eat his vegetables, constantly give advice to our wife she’s not asking for, or to aggressively push our perspective on social issues onto others. In all these cases, our actions stem from our genuine goodwill for the other. But how we approach it makes all the difference in their willingness to receive.

A better approach is a posture of invitation – offering a path toward something better while humbly going on this journey with them. Love as an invitation is not standing on the moral high ground attempting to force others into compliance, however well-meaning. Rather it’s seeing the good and inviting others to go on this journey with us to move closer toward it.

Of course, as leaders there are still times we must make hard decisions, and there might be a lot of kicking and screaming that comes with this from others. But generally, there should still be a spirit of invitation in our efforts and not merely pushing our agenda. This allows even those hard moments to be received with the sweetness of honey and not just the harshness of vinegar.

In the end, love is not pushy or demanding. Invite others to journey with you towards God’s best rather than trying to force compliance even in the name of doing good.

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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