Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Your Child's Development: Godward Orientation

Book: Shepherding a Child's Heart
Author: Tedd Tripp
Chapter 3: Your Child's Development: Godward Orientation
Godward Orientation(My little Jillian!)
All of us are covenantal beings, we all have a Godward orientation.  Tedd Tripp tells us that all of us are essentially religious and children are worshipers, either they worship God or idols, they are never neutral! Our children filter the experiences of life through a religious grid.

Romans 1:18-19 
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth be their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

Everyone, and that means everyone, has God's clear revelation of truth, but wicked people suppress that truth......whoa!!!!  They refuse to walk with God and submit to the things that He has made very plain for us all!  
From page 19 of Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
The person standing on the left is a worshiper of the one true God who is good and kind and holy.  God has made everything for His glory and if we know Him, we know life.  If you have Godward orientation, then you respond to God's goodness and kindness with love, delight and worship.  You want to know and serve God better.  For me this is not only a lesson in the orientation of my children's heart, but also mine....I hate when that happens!!!  Just kidding!  I really thought this was a good lesson, no matter where you are in your life and relationship with Christ.

The person on the right is someone who does not believe the truth, but rather lies, and is worshiping things that are created and not the Creator of all things!  

Something that Tedd talks about in his book is that we are often taught that we become a sinner when we sin....but that is oh so wrong!  We sin because we are sinners.  Psalm 58:3 says," Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies." Psalm 15:5 says, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me."  Wow....this means that our children are never morally neutral, not even at birth.  

Tedd talks about a justification for spanking in this chapter(a little preview for later!), which is that in Proverbs 22:15 is says, "Folly is bound up in the heart of the child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." This tells us that there is something wrong in our children's hearts and it needs to be made right, and a spanking will not only help with the structure of the home, but changes the heart of your child.

So, if our children are not worshiping God, but rather idols, what does that look like?  Wooden or stone figurines is probably what we mostly think of as idols, statues of "gods" and the suffering symbol on a pole!  That is not the kind of idols we are talking about here, but rather the idols of the heart.  These include, but definitely are not limited to; evil, lust, pride, fear of man, conforming to the world, embracing the mindsets of those not of God, and "setting the affections on things below." This means that we have to consider the things like motives, desires, wants, goals, hopes and expectations that are in our children's hearts.  These things are often hard to see and pinpoint, but Tedd helps out with that and I have also found other resources to help us!!!  Don't worry!!!

This is such an important topic, because this tells us that our job as a parent is soooo much more important than we ever imagined.  I know we all thought that we were just supposed to give our children great advice, a constructive home and learning environment, positive interactions and love....along with other basic needs....but that is not the only things, and definitely not the most important!!!  We are to shepherd our children as one who worships, pointing him to the God who is the only one worthy of worship.  Tedd's powerful statement is this...

                                              The question is not "will he worship?"  
but IT IS ALWAYS "whom will he worship?"

What does that mean for our parenting? Well, this means that we are fighting a battle and we need to do some very careful combat, because that batltefield is in our child's heart.  We have to help them to know and serve the living God.  We need to provide the best possible shaping influences that we talked about in the last post, but more importantly we have to help our children respond to God in the context of those shaping influences.  

What Tedd says next was hard for me to swallow...but it is so true and so important. "Since it is the Godward orientation of your heart that determines his response to life, you may never conclude that his problems are simply a lack of maturity.  Selfishness is NOT outgrow. Rebellion against authority is NOT outgrown.  These things are NOT outgrown because they are reflective of immaturity but rather of the idolatry of your child's heart." 

There are so many stories of people in the Bible who did not have great upbringings and could have turned out quite differently....the best example being Joseph. So, why did his story end the way it did? Why was he not bitter, cynical, angry, etc.? Simple, he trusted God and had a living relationship with God.  He found his orientation in the unfailing love and covenant mercies of God.  

Remember there are two issues that help in shaping what kind of person your children become...
         1. shaping influences of life
         2. their Godward orientation
We must address both in parenting, and the second is the most important and often the one that is left out of every parenting book that I have ever read, or probably could read.  That is why this one is so different and why it is so successful in helping you to be the best parent, rather shepherd, that you can be.

Stay tuned for the answers to these questions....
What does it mean for the parent to function as God's agent? What is the nature of the parenting task?  What is the function of discipline and correction?

Pray this week for your children and their hearts, that God will help to make them oriented toward Him, so that they will be easily shepherded and they will come to know Him and have a relationship with Him.  This is of course the beginning of this process, praying for your children and for God to help you in your shepherding of your child, that you may do what God has appointed for you to do. Blessings.

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