Shepherding a Child’s Heart Study: Chapter 3

shepherding a childs heart study

Chapter 3 in the Shepherding a Child’s Heart book study talks about how each child or person worships something. Either we worship God the creator or we worship the creation/idols (anything that takes the place of God – praise, knowledge, worship of self, etc.). Our job as parents is to point our children toward the One who deserves worship.

We cannot always control the shaping influences in our children’s lives (things like death, job loss, our spouse’s habits, etc.), as some are simply out of our control. But that is not a reason to lose heart. God is bigger than those circumstances. The book reminds readers of the story of Joseph, whose mother died at a young age, whose father favored him, whose brothers were jealous of him and ultimately sold him into slavery away from worshipers of Jehovah, and on and on, and yet he kept his faith in God throughout. This gives me hope. I remember that even though I may (and do) fail as a mother time and time again, that God is still working and I can trust Him to do a work in my children’s hearts if they will surrender to Him.

At the end of the chapter, Tripp says “In all of 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” (p. 26). Let that be our prayer today.

Father God, when I am tempted to give up or get discouraged because things get difficult, help me to persevere. Remind me that you are the one who is in control and that you will work around my own mess, only you have called me to be faithful to the task you’ve given me. Please soften my children’s hearts that they may see that you are the only one worthy of worship. Amen.

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Shepherding a Child’s Heart Study: Chapter 2

shepherding a childs heart study

Ok, so we are now into Chapter 2 in the Shepherding a Child’s Heart book study. This chapter focuses on the life experiences that are shaping influences in our children’s lives. They include things like:

  • Structure of family life (birth order, number of generations living in the home, ages and number of children, etc.)
  • Family values (what the family sees as most important, secrets that are kept within the family, family boundaries, etc.)
  • Family roles (the role each member of the family plays, who pays the bills, how involved each one is in the family, etc.)
  • Family conflict resolution (how parents and family members tend to resolve conflicts – talking it out, walking away, buying things, etc.)
  • Family response to failure (how failures are treated within the family, whether they are mocked, put down, encouraged, glossed over, etc.)
  • Family history (the general events of childhood – births, deaths, health/sickness, moving, marriages, divorces, stability, job loss, etc.)

What stood out to me most in this chapter was that how Tripp explains that while these shaping influences certainly affect our children, they are not “helpless victim[s] of of the circumstances in which [they were] raised.” We must do our best, as we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, to provide good influences for our children, but, “Your children are [ultimately] responsible for the way they respond to your parenting.” God is the one who changes hearts, not us. He is the one who saves, not us. That is both scary (because I desperately want them to come to faith, and it would be so much easier if there was just a magic formula to follow that would guarantee that!), and freeing at the same time (as a parent who will frequently mess up and fail over and over again, it is such a blessing that this responsibility does not rest on me but on an all powerful God!).

Shepherding a Child’s Heart Study: Chapter 1

shepherding a childs heart study

Last week I mentioned that I am doing a book study on Shepherding a Child’s Heart with the ABC Jesus Loves Me/Our Out-of-Sync Life group. Today we are reading chapter 1 and I wanted to share some thoughts with you from the book.

As I read chapter 1, the thought that stood out to me the most was this:

You must learn to work from the behavior you see, back to the heart, exposing heart issues for your children. In short, you must learn to engage them, not just reprove them. Help them see the ways that they are trying to slake their souls’ thirst with that which cannot satisfy.

Wow, that hits home doesn’t it?

Read that last sentence again: “help them see the ways that they are trying to slake their souls’ thirst with that which cannot satisfy.” Ouch. I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of doing this as well. How do I help my children see this if I don’t start with examining my own heart? How many of my own actions and choices are because I am trying to satisfy my soul with things or people or actions when I should be going to God alone to satisfy those needs? When I put others down or criticize them, am I not doing so because I want to make myself feel better or perhaps because I am jealous or envious, instead of being content and thankful for what God has given me? When I get angry with my kids, isn’t it often because of my own self-centered attitude that wants things done my way and doesn’t want to be inconvenienced, rather than being patient and seeing these times as teachable moments?

I guess my take-away from Chapter 1, even though it is not expressly mentioned in the chapter, is that I need to start examining my own heart first before I can help my children examine theirs.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Study

shepherding a childs heart study

Over a year ago, on the recommendation of more than one person, I purchased the Kindle version of the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp (on sale right now for $1.99!). I read a few chapters, but then became side-tracked with other things and have yet to finish the book. So when I heard about the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Book Study at Our Out-of-Sync Life, I was very excited to dig in and finally finish the book!

The main idea behind the book is reaching a child’s heart, not just correcting his or her actions. Correcting the behavior (hitting, arguing, throwing tantrums) without addressing the root issue (selfishness, pride, anger, etc.) will never result in effective, long-term change. From a Christian perspective, the root problem is sin, and the cure is the Gospel.

The book study starts tomorrow, May 1, and the assigned reading for tomorrow is the preface and introduction (who reads that, right? Oh wait, as an English teacher I’m not supposed to say that! Winking smile)

So, to keep myself accountable to completing the readings, I will be posting my thoughts and reactions here over the next few weeks.

Let me start by sharing a few insights from the Introduction. At one point Tripp says:

People frequently ask if I expected my children to become believers. I usually reply that the gospel is powerful and attractive. It uniquely meets the needs of fallen humanity. Therefore, I expected that God’s Word would be the power of God to salvation for my children. But that expectation was based on the power of the gospel and its suitability to human need, not on a correct formula for producing children who believe.

This assertion rang true for me. Just this past weekend I had been discussing with some other ladies how we wished there was some way to ensure that our children come to salvation. We want this for them because of the tremendous difference the gospel has made in our own lives and because we know that our hearts need cleansing from sin in order to be reconciled to a Holy God. But of course, as Tripp points out, there is no magic formula. We can do everything “right” and still have children who don’t believe. After all, God’s children, Adam and Eve, had the perfect Parent, and yet they still chose to rebel. Sometimes this leaves us feeling a bit hopeless.

However, I really liked the way Tripp turned the tables from putting our hope in what we as parents can do, and instead trusting in God and His Word because it is “powerful and attractive” and is “uniquely meets the needs of fallen humanity.” While I have a responsibility to make sure my parenting is in line with Scripture and that I am pointing my children toward the Gospel, ultimately their salvation does not rest on my doing everything “right.” I must trust that God and his Grace are sufficient and that the good news will draw my children’s hearts to Him.

If you are interested in joining the study yourself, you can find all the details at Our Out-of-Sync Life. And please share your thoughts here as well! We’d love to hear from you!