As a new parent, I am acutely aware of my need for wisdom when it comes to raising my child. A book that was recommended to me, is Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Dr. Tedd Tripp. I obtained an older version of it, at least judging by the cover, but I believe the content is pretty much identical to copy referenced in the Amazon link above.
Published in 1995, the book has been around for more than two decades, but the principles described by Dr. Tripp are still very much true and applicable today – perhaps more than ever. The objective of this book is to provide parents with the biblical tools they need to shepherd their children as the God-given authorities in their life. Said shepherding consists of providing the best possible shaping influences in the child’s life as well as guiding the child in developing a Godward orientation of the heart. These two aspects are framed by the God’s provision of Christ on the one hand and the child’s (and the parents’) sinful state on the other hand.
This idea of shepherding sets Tripp’s book apart from popular parenting books that mainly deal with behavior modification that is based on human philosophy apart from God and the gospel. In fact, the book itself makes constant reference to various texts of the Bible, especially the book of Proverbs.
The author discusses his topic in two broad sections. The first deals with the theory of shepherding, the second section provides practical help for the different developmental stages of childhood up to age 18. In the theoretical section, he deals with the following concepts: shaping influences, Godward orientation of the heart, God-given authority of the parents, biblical goals and methods of parenting, communication in parenting, disciplining your child, addressing the conscience. In the second part, the provides training objectives and training techniques for each of the stages of childhood.
Dr. Tripp’s work is profoundly biblical in that it sees the primary battlefield of parenting in the child’s heart, not in the behavior alone, and that it argues from the standpoint that both parent and child are sinful. He provides a solid analysis of what the child needs: an understanding of the gospel and its place in it. He puts a strong emphasis on the idea that a parent’s job is not to produce a successful child, but a child with both godly character and a Godward orientation of the heart. He also provides a nuanced application of “the rod” and takes the time to answer common questions that surround this topic. Another precious truth he communicates in the book is the concept that a family unit is a covenantal community. That is to say that the parents are in a covenant with the child or children and that both parents and children are in covenant with God. This is the basis for the parents’ authority and the child’s submission. It’s an act of worship. Each chapter ends with study questions for reflection and discussion.
As a new parent, I feel both challenged and encouraged as I embark upon this task of shepherding my daughter’s heart. The book instills in you a desire to walk with Jesus and to get to know the shepherd of my soul even better so that I can be a shepherd of my child’s soul.
Disclaimer: I don’t receive anything from the author or publisher for writing about this book on my blog.