Thursday, January 26, 2012

January's book: Shepherding a Child's Heart

One of my goals for this year was to read one book each month. It may not seem like much, but it's so easy for me to go without reading unless I'm intentional about it--so I'm going to start with one book each month and hopefully work my way up.

This month, I read Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. It was an excellent read.  The focus of the book is disciplining your children not just so they outwardly conform to your commands while they are young, but so they grow up to love Christ with all their heart.

The author had a lot of excellent points, many of which we've already been trying to apply in our interactions with our children. A couple of the main points I came away with were:

::Communication. It's easy to go throughout the day and talk to the children only when they ask questions or when they need correction. As Pastor Tripp pointed out, communication with our children should be so much more than this. We need to really talk with them, not just talk at them when they need instruction.
"This shepherding process is a richer interaction than telling your child what to do and think. It involves investing your life in your child in open and honest communication that unfolds the meaning and purpose of life." 
"You must become a good listener. You will miss precious opportunities when you only half-listen to your children. The best way you can train your children to be active listeners is by actively listening to them."

::Consistency. Discipline isn't fun, but when it is done properly (in a completely un-abusive way), it should bring forth wonderful fruit. Consistency is so important when training children to obey the first time, rather than waiting until we're really fed up at their refusal to do what we say.
 "Never allow your children to disobey without dealing with them. When they disobey, they are moving out of the circle of God's blessing into a place of grave peril. If you understand the fear of the Lord, you will not allow your child to ignore God's law without intervening."

::Christ-centeredness. We should never discipline our children because they are bothering us. We must discipline them in love when they dishonor the Lord. Our discipline must always point them to their own sinfulness and desperate need for the glorious salvation found in Christ.
 "The central focus of parenting is the gospel. You need to direct not simply the behavior of your children, but the attitudes of their hearts. You need to show them not just the "what" of their sin and failure, but the "why." Your children desperately need to understand not only the external "what" they did wrong, but also the internal "why" they did it."
"If correction orbits around the parent who has been offended, then the focus will be venting anger, or perhaps, taking vengeance. The function is punitive. If, however, correction orbits around God as the one offended, then the focus is restoration. The function is remedial. It is designed to move a child who has disobeyed God back to the path of obedience. It is corrective."
 And, one last quote that I really think sums up the book well:

"You must regard parenting as one of your most important tasks while you have children at home. This is your calling. You must raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You cannot do so without investing yourself in a life of sensitive communication in which you help them understand life and God's world. There is nothing more important. You have only a brief season of life to invest yourself in this task. You have only one opportunity to do it. You cannot go back and do it over."

Have you ever read this book? What have you been reading this month?

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This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday.


  1. We have read Shepherding a Child's Heart and really love Don't Make Me Count to Three. It's a practical accompaniment to Tripp's book and helped us put the theory into action. I highly recommend it.

  2. I read this book last year and think I will revisit it this year. Thanks for reminding me of how good it is to read and learn more from God's word and wise stewards on how to raise our children

  3. @Jessica, I've heard that book is really good. I may have to add it to my list!