This week, chapters 5 and 6 of the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Study are going to be discussed together. I was glad that these two chapters were combined, because I must admit that I read chapter 5 with a raised eyebrow. However, chapter 6 explained Tripp’s point a bit better.
Chapter 5 examines some unbiblical parenting goals, including the following:
- Developing special skills (excelling at extracurricular activities)
- Psychological adjustment (building a child’s self-esteem)
- Saved children (getting children to “pray the sinners prayer”)
- Family worship (ritualistically praying and reading the Bible every day)
- Well-behaved children (having children who are well-mannered and possess social graces)
- Good education (scholarly achievement)
- Control (simply controlling children’s behavior)
Just reading Chapter 5, you might, as I did, question if all of these are bad goals. Isn’t having a child come to salvation one of the greatest goals of parenting? Shouldn’t we be teaching our children to worship? Tripp, however, says that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever…. From their earliest days, they must be taught that they are creature made in the image of God – made for God. They must learn that they will only ‘find themselves’ as they find him.” In other words, we must not focus on the goals above for their own sake.
In Chapter 6 Tripp talks about reworking your goals “in light of the chief end of man – to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Tripp explains how simply developing special skills as a goal in itself can lead to pride or self-trust. While having a biblical worldview about such activities “dictates that you should teach your children to exercise and care for their bodies as an expression of stewardship for God’s gifts. Abilities should be developed because God has given the stewardship of talents and special capacities.” It can also be a “valuable way of providing family unity and oneness.” Having a goal of saved children makes the mistake of looking for “the major spiritual event of salvation [praying the sinner’s prayer] and misses the spiritual process of nurturing your children.” Family worship, too, is “a means, not an end. It is a means to the end of knowing God.” Manners must be seen as “an expression and application of the duty of loving my neighbor as myself” rather than “an elaborate means of pleasant social manipulation.” As you can see, the goals above can still be valuable activities, they just can’t be goals in themselves – the ultimate goal must be glorifying God and enjoying him forever.
His ultimate point is this:
Teaching your children to live for the glory of God must be your overarching objective. You must teach your children that for them, as for all mankind, life is found in knowing and serving the true and living God. The only worthy goal for life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.