The Heart & Soul of Parenting

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…”

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Ladies, I hope you won’t think I’m bragging here, but I think there’s something you should know about me. I’ve got this parenting thing figured out. Yes, indeed. I thought it was time I revealed this little detail about myself. Honestly, I can’t figure out why everybody makes such a big deal out of it. What’s so hard? I mean, you feed them, clothe them, keep ’em clean, and when they’re bad, you discipline them. Piece of cake. The people that say no one is a perfect parent have yet to see me in action.

Ok, before I provoke you any further, I think you should know why I’m so terribly confident in my parenting skills. I don’t have any children yet.:) Sorry, mommies, I was just kidding with you. But you can relate, can’t you? Parenting seems like such a simple task when you don’t actually have the responsibility of doing it, right? Somehow, parenting becomes much more complicated when children are introduced into the picture…at least, that’s what I hear.

Although I don’t yet have children, by God’s grace, one day I will. When that day comes, I want to be as prepared as I can be to train my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. As a Christian mom, my goal will be to raise children who love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. But I’m also aware that ultimately I won’t be able to change my children’s hearts; only God can do that. Nevertheless, I want to do my best through Christ’s strength to introduce my children to the One Who can change their hearts, and I’ll have to learn to trust Him to take care of the rest. The good news is that in addition to His Word, God has also provided us with some excellent biblically-based resources to help us as we seek to become moms who aren’t perfect, but who are pleasing in His sight.

If you aren’t familiar with Tedd Tripp’s books, I really think you’ll benefit from the teaching they contain. Tedd Tripp, brother to Paul David Tripp, wrote a book called Shepherding a Child’s Heart about 15 years ago that every Christian parent should read. I’m not exaggerating; they should. Even if they can’t read, they should learn how, just so they can read this book.  Yes, it is that good. 😉 Tripp’s approach to parenting is deeply grounded in biblical truth. Instead of seeking only to alter a child’s behavior, Tripp encourages parents to aim for the heart, because our hearts motivate our behavior (Luke 6:43-45; Mark 7:21-23). While externally-enforced conformity is often temporary, changed hearts lead to changes in action that last. In contrast, when parents seek primarily to change their children’s behavior and neglect to focus on heart change, they will often end up raising either little legalists or little rebels. I love this quote from the book:

When we miss the heart, we miss the glory of God…Children are spring-loaded for worship. One of the most important callings God has given parents is to display the greatness, goodness, and glory of the God for whom they are made. Parents have the opportunity, through word and deed, to show children the one true object of worship–the God of the Bible. We know that the greatest delights our children can ever experience are found in delighting in the God who has made them for his glory. (p. xii)

In 2008, Tripp and his wife Margy released Instructing a Child’s Heart, which builds upon the principles taught in the first book. In the following video clips, the author explains the biblical concepts which underlie his books. I think you’ll enjoy hearing his perspective on the high calling of parenthood.

Also available: A 13-part teaching series on DVD based on the material of Instructing a Child’s Heart, which would work well in a church or small-group setting.

If you’ve read one or both of Tedd Tripp’s books on parenting, I’d love to hear you share your thoughts on how his teaching affected your parenting. Did it change the way you dealt with your children? Have you seen any positive results from applying these principles?