In this chapter, Tripp calls parents to rethink their goals for their children in light of the chief end of man – that being to glorify God and enjoy him forever. In doing so, Tripp looks at the 7 areas addressed in the last chapter.
1. Developing Special Skills
Tripp points out that there is no biblical mandate to, nor a verse that even supports the idea of, developing our children’s self-worth. All of the activities which we busy our kids with tend to teach them to trust in themselves. The Bible tells us that those who trust in themselves are fools! The concepts of self-trust and self-love that are so prevalent in our culture today turn people from God. Furthermore, the amount of time that these activities takes up tend to become the priority for families and distract from biblical goals such as time spent reading the scriptures, prayer and more. Rather than viewing these special skills as the goal for our kids, we should remember that the real reason for developing any skills is to be a good steward of the gifts God has given us.
2. Psychological Adjustment
Rather than subcumbing to the “self esteem” craze, our goals in this area should really be to teach our children:
- to entrust themselves to God,
- to see the needs of others around them,
- to learn to make peace, and
- that a soft answer turns away wrath.
3. Saved Children
The principal problem with the goal of saved children is that it looks to the spiritual moment of salvation alone and does not address the spiritual process of nurturing our kids. The true aim for a genuine Christian life is progressive growth. Tripp observes that all life rushes towards that day when all of us will be called before the throne of God to give an account for our lives. Rather than focusing solely on salvation, our goal as parents should be teach our kids to trust God both for salvation and for daily living. In simple terms, the author explains, “Faith is not just a way to get saved; it is the lifeline for Christian living.” To that end, kids must be taught how to repent. They need to know the forgiveness of God, not just to get saved, but in living their daily lives.
4. Family Worship
It is very easy in life to confuse the means and the end. Tripp cautions that we must remember that family worship is a means and not the end. Tripp suggests that the daily reading of Proverbs is a valuable thing to do with your kids. As he points out, Proverbs serves as “an owner’s manual for life” and confronts a child with every aspect of true spirituality.
5. Well Behaved Children
The Biblical view of manners is that they are an expression and application of the principal of loving our neighbor more than ourself. Tripp reminds us that well behaved children is a side affect of shepherding their hearts but cannot be the principal goal.
6. Good Educations
Tripp rightly expresses that the Bible does not anywhere set good grades as a goal for our kids. Tripp further explains that many parents exacerbate the problem by adding unbiblical incentives for getting good grades (such as a certain amount of money for certain grade). In doing this, we undermine the fact that children must learn to do their work diligently for God and not solely for a reward.
Finally, Tripp answers the primary objection he gets when he raises these points. That objection is something to the effect of, “What if my kids aren’t believers?” Tripp’s answer, in a nutshell, is to ask, “should we teach unbelievers to disobey the word of God?” He points out that if we hold them to the standard of God’s law, it becomes the beacon of light that could lead them to Christ. As parents, we should always be pointing to Christ’s work, his power and his grace. Our main objective is to teach our kids to live for the glory of God and find true life in knowing and serving him. We must impress on our kids that a life lived for God is the only worthy goal in life.
The differences between the societal norms for raising our kids and what the Bible says are striking! It is clear that our culture’s goals for raising kids are at best inadequate, and at worst, contrary to the will of God. As parents, we must diligently work to discern whether or not we have made one of these unbiblical goals an idol in our children’s lives. If we have, we have failed, and we must take that failure to the cross of Christ to find redemption before we can hope to redeem our kids.
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