In the last chapter, the author laid out 6 shaping influences which impact our children, but he was quick to point out that it is not shaping influences alone which determine the types of people our kids will grow up to be. Mr. Tripp explains that regardless of the shaping influences in a child’s life, it is his Godward orientation that determines how he will react to those influences.
Mr. Tripp points to Proverbs 9:7-10 for guidance. Here is that verse from the English Standard Version:
7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Tripp makes the observation that, “It is the fear of the Lord that makes one wise and it is wisdom that determines how he responds to correction.”
Mr. Tripp explains that all children have only two possibilities for their Godward orientation:
- They worship the true and living God of the Bible; or
- They worship idols.
Tripp further explains that kids are never neutral. God has designed them with a “worship orientation.” When it comes to kids, the question is not whether they worship, but what they will worship? Tripp points to Romans 1:18-19 and explains that kids will either “respond to God by faith or they suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” If they respond in faith, they find the fulfillment that comes from serving God. If they suppress the truth they too end up like the people addressed in Romans 1 worshiping the creation rather than the one who created it!
We must get past the cultural idea that children are inherently good. Tripp points to passages like Psalm 58:3 and Psalm 51:5 which clearly state that we are all sinners from the womb. Tripp observes, “We often are taught that man becomes a sinner when he sins. The Bible teaches that man sins because he is a sinner.”
Tripp points out that the idols that kids in our culture worship are not stone and wooden statues but “any manner of motives, desires, wants, goals, hopes, and expectations that rule the heart of a child.”
Because there are only two possible responses from our children to the things we pour into them, parenting is not just about pouring good things into our kids. Part of our role as parents is to shepherd our kids, as worshiping creatures, toward the one true and living God. He is the only one worthy of worship and the one who created us. Tripp observes that most parenting books offer advice (often contradictory advice) regarding how to control your children’s shaping influences. However, real parenting must be concerned both with the shaping influences and with shepherding the heart of the child. In a passage I found very poetic, Tripp refers to engaging in:
“hand-to-hand combat on the world’s smallest battlefield, the child’s heart.”
Tripp explains that, because our children’s heart orientation determines their response to life, it is naive to conclude that a child’s problems are simply the result of a lack of maturity. A child is selfish because he worships at the idol of himself, not because he is immature!
Mr Tripp concludes this chapter by pointing out what, by now, seems obvious:
- As parents, we must work to control those shaping influences in our children’s lives which we can control.
- We must also actively shepherd our children’s hearts towards worshiping God.
- In all of this, we must pray for God’s working in our children’s lives.
When it comes to ours kids, it is easy to get caught up in praying for specifics. “Please God let my kids get home OK.” “Please Lord teach my child respect and discipline.” “Please God give me the patience to deal with my kids.” I was convicted by Mr. Tripp’s advice that, “In all this you must pray that God will work in and around your efforts and the responses of your children to make them people who know and honor God.” I will definitely be adding this to the list of my prayers for my kids.
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Chapter 4 – You’re in Charge: NEXT TIME>>