This December we had our awards night for our kid’s ministry, Lightbearers. As a part of that evening, we gave each family a copy of Tedd Tripp’s book “Shepherding a Child’s Heart.” Over the next several weeks we will be posting articles based on chapters from that book in order to encourage and help parents in the work of parenting.
Getting to the Heart of Things
Every parent wants to see their kid grow up and become a healthy, kind, and good person. We desire to see kids who are obedient and thoughtful. Kids who listen and go out of their way to do good. Yet so often parenting is aimed at that outcome, of well-behaved kids, but misses the root cause. Just like doctors who prescribe medicine for symptoms but will never treat the underlying condition.
In the introductory chapter of Shepherding a Child’s Heart Tripp makes a simple claim and outlines the rest of his work based on this premise: “What your children say and do is a reflection of what is in their hearts.” (Tripp, pg. 4)
Notice two passages that Tripp brings out. Luke 6:45:
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Likewise, look at Mark 7:21:
From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.
The Bible teaches a simple truth, what we are on the outside, is an overflowing of what we are on the inside. If we speak hatefully and in anger, it means our hearts are hateful and angry. Tripp uses the illustration of two kids fighting over a toy. The kids are yelling and screaming at each other saying “I want it more” and neither are relenting. Typically, a parent may come in and ask, “Who had the toy first?” and give it back. While that may stop the fighting for the moment, the situation reveals that both of the kids’ hearts are full of selfishness, greed, and envy. Neither could stand the thought of not having the toy.
Shepherding A Child’s Heart
Shepherding a Child’s Heart will help you as a parent, shift your parenting goals and methods away from treating symptoms, and into shaping and forming your child’s heart, their relationship with you, and their relationship with the Lord.
It is only by aiming for heart change will there be kids who can grow into healthy, Christ following, adults. As Tripp says, this process its not a “simple, clever methodology. I am not promoting a new three-step plan for trouble-free children” but “I am, however, willing to explore with you fresh ways of pursuing the training task God has given you.” (Tripp, pg7)
I encourage you to join us as we share insights from this work here and encourage you to read Tripp’s book yourself.
Look forward to part 2 of this series soon.
Tedd Tripp. 2005. Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press.