Introduction – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis)
In this post I will deal only with the Introduction to the book which I think raises some very insightful points. Mr. Tripp provides the following poignant introduction:
“Our culture has lost its way with respect to parenting. We are a rudderless ship without a compass.”
He points to several problems with modern society which have resulted in this phenomenon:
- Many people in our day and age have children but don’t really want them. Children are viewed as a liability in a culture that has increasingly convinced people that the paramount goal in life should be their own personal fulfillment.
- The idea of quality time has replaced the idea of quantity time.
- It is no longer socially acceptable for Dad to be the authority in the home.
- Children see their parents refusing to submit to authority which results in their unwillingness to accept a submissive role in life.
Mr. Tripp observes that today’s parents are “frustrated and confused,” and that the evangelical world is “nearly as lost as the society at large.”
Against that backdrop, Mr. Tripp reminds us all that the only perfect guide for raising our children is the Bible and that the Bible contains all the guidance we need “to be equipped for the task of parenting.”
Mr. Tripp’s biblical view of parenting involves three basic tenets:
- Kind Authority
- Shepherding children to understand themselves in God’s world
- Keeping the gospel in clear view
Mr. Tripp offers the following insights when it comes to Authority:
- You must not be embarrassed to be your child’s authority.
- Our authority as parents comes from being an agent of God.
- We should never direct our children for our own convenience, but rather on behalf of God for their good.
- The purpose of our authority is not to hold our kids under our power.
- Our goal is to empower our children to be self-controlled individuals living under God’s authority.
- As parents, we must require obedience from our children because God’s word calls for obedience and the honoring of parents.
- Based on Mr. Tripp’s experience, children don’t generally resist authority when that authority is kind and selfless as described above.
Mr. Tripp has the following to say about Shepherding:
- As a shepherd, our goal is to help our children understand themselves as a creation of God and their role as being made “for God.”
- The job of a parent is to lead children on the path of discovery.
- Our job is to shepherd our children’s thoughts to help them learn discernment and wisdom.
- We do this with open and honest communication.
On the Centrality of the Gospel, Mr Tripp offers the following:
- The gospel should be the central focus of parenting.
- The goal is not to simply direct the behavior of our children, but the attitudes of their hearts.
- As parents, we should show our children the “why” of their sin and not just the “what.”
- As parents, a goal of simply having well behaved children totally misses the mark.
- The gospel promises internal transformation.
- When we fail to hold our kids to God’s standard, we rob them of the “mercy of the gospel.”
The Introduction to this book concludes with the goal of internalizing the gospel in our children so that we can eventually share “mutuality as people under God” with them.
On a personal note related to sharing mutuality as people under God with our children, I will never forget how struck by the glory of God I was one afternoon when I was driving home with my seven year old son and five year old daughter. They were in the back seat discussing how they were lucky because they had two Dads. I was their Dad here on earth, but I was also their brother because we are all God’s children. It is such an awesome thing when your kids really get it!