Author: Tedd Tripp
Chapter 1: Getting to the Heart of Behavior
Parenting is a hard task, given to us by God. We are to be the authority for our children. But we cannot forget that God has called all of his creatures, yes even the birds and giraffes, to live under His authority, so while we are to be agents of God's authority over our children, we are also at the exact same time, under God's authority! Hard swallow...hmmm, how have I tried to not be under His authority and/or abused His authority when being that agent to my children. It makes my heart cringe and repent for that sin!
Tedd says in his book that we "may not direct your children for your own agenda or convenience. You must direct your children on God's behalf for their good!" Whew, take a minute and reflect on that with me. I don't like it, but I know I have severely missed this and misused my authority!!! How many times have you told your kids to stop something, not because it was something wrong, but because you found it annoying, or had them do something because it was convenient for you, but not necessarily for them. I also find in what Tedd said, that I am to direct my children, DIRECT, not rule over them. I am not just their authority, but rather their helper, the guide in this journey of life, not just someone to tell them what to do...more on this after authority. Another hard swallow! Tedd says it more eloquently by stating that, "God calls you to exercise authority, not in making your children do what you want, but in being true servants- authorities, who lay down your lives. The purpose for your authority in the lives of your children is not to hold them under your power, but to empower them to be self-controlled people living freely under the authority of God." This makes a big impact on me, because my children are not at all learning to be self-controlled. I say that because, when my children get mad at me, or don't like what I ask or say to them, they get really mad, sometimes to the point of throwing things, or just plain throwing hissy fits! You have probably experienced this yourself. Well, I can tell you that when Matt and I were working hard to shepherd our children, we saw that lack of self-control begin to wane...and I wan't that peace that came with the waning, to come back to my home!!!
Back to being a helper or guide to my children..this is what Tedd calls "shepherding". I am supposed to shepherd my children, in order to help them understand both the what of their actions, but also the why. I must work hard to help my children learn discernment and wisdom, not my wisdom, but God's
The most important thing that you should get out of this book is this: "THE CENTRAL FOCUS OF PARENTING IS THE GOSPEL! It is important to not simply direct a child's behavior, but the attitudes of their heart!"
Proverbs 4:23 states it like this; Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Our hearts, and especially our children's hearts, determine our behavior, what we say, do, think, and the decision we make on how to act or react. Hmmm, so what is in my heart, your heart, our children's heart?
Mark 7:21-23 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside a man and make a man "unclean".
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.
What do these two verses tell us? What your children say and do is a reflection of what is in their hearts. These Bible verses are very helpful for helping us in our goals as parents. They help us to understand that behavior is not the main issue, but rather it is what is happening in our children's heart.
So, lets think about the heart for a minute. If we didn't have a heart, would we be living? NO! It is the reason we are living, it controls everything in our bodies, for without it, those things would not happen! So, it is our "control center"or not only our bodies, but our lives! Tedd writes that, "a change in behavior that does not stem from a change in the heart is not commendable; it is condemn-able." Ouch! Here we are talking about our children, but I also want you to reflect that to your own heart, that is a powerful statement!!!
So, if the heart is the control center of our lives and all behavior stems from the heart, then it only makes sense that discipline has to be used to address the attitude of the heart. We need to understand our job as parents Biblically. Tedd outlines the broad sets of issues that affect our children, and says that we need to understand our children in relationship to them.
1. The child and his relationship to the shaping influences of life.
2. The child and his relationship to God.
I don't know about you, but for me the first time around, this was a lot to take in. It was not how I had ever thought about parenting before, even though I had grown up in a Christian home, in church, married a Christian man, and am a follower of Christ. Parent from the Bible? Seemed radical to me, but it makes perfect sense. God gives us all we need in His word, and since He made us and knows we are sinners, and gave us salvation from that, why would we not first and always seek our His teachings to live by?!?!
Yes, I am using a book written by man, but it is a book that helps me to better understand the psychological state of my children in relationship to what affects them and how to use God's tool, the Bible to parent, shepherd, guide, direct, have authority in their lives, however you want to look at it!
Stick with me, we will get to the practical breakdown or how Tedd and his wife use this is in their lives and their recommendations for us. This beginning is important though, for without the understanding of the reason the heart is important, we are not able to correctly shepherd our children as God has designed for us to!
Prayers are with you as you soak this up and as we learn more this week! Blessings!