In the book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, author Tedd Tripp offers hope for all those who are tasked with raising children. Tripp explains “You can raise children in godly ways at the beginning of the 21st century. You need not—indeed, you dare not—cave in, concluding that the task is impossible. Experience may tell you failure is inevitable, but experience is an unsafe guide.”
One of Tripp’s major assertions is the fact that “God’s ways have not proved inadequate; they are simply untried.” God, as the Creator, knows His creation. He knows that humans, by their very nature will ignore His authority, or any authority for that matter. God knows that the law, in and of itself is perfect, but it will incite rebellion in our sinful and deceived hearts. He knows that the only answer for our condition is to have a new heart that is responsive to Him, and desires to keep His laws for God’s honor and glory. God knows that the greatest hope we have is the gospel, and the gospel must be massaged into the heart of the children that God entrusts to our stewardship. Throughout the first part of the book the author seeks explain the central idea of shepherding the heart by expounding a biblical theology that involves the authority that God gives to parents, the requirement to raise children according to God’s ways as commanded in the Scriptures, the gospel which must be central in Christian parenting, the heart which must be the focus as believers instruct their children, and respect of parental authority which is designed to teach obedience to divine authority.
Tripp closes the first section by explaining unbiblical, and biblical methods of discipline. Unbiblical methods of discipline include employing psychology, emotionalism, and punitive correction. The results of such methods are superficial at best, a point made by Tripp when he stated: “Superficial parenting that never addresses the heart biblically produces superficial children who do not understand what makes them tick.” Biblical methods, however, were designed by God to reach the heart. The two methods Tripp listed are communication, and the rod of correction. Both are intended to apply the gospel to the heart of our children as we raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Both should be used as often as necessary in the process.
The second part of the book is about application of the principles taught in the first twelve chapters. In this section Tripp walks us through various stages of childhood development, practically applying the theology, previously learned, to each age and stage of a child’s growth.
I believe that Tripp’s theology is sound, and his instruction is thoroughly biblical. This book is a must read for any Christian parent, and would make an excellent text book for any Christian parenting course taught in a local church.