Book Review: Shepherding a Child’s Heart

51R089Y1DML._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big-search,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_Tripp, Tedd. Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd’s Press, 1995. 211 pages.

This book has been out for a while, but I wanted it to be the first book I highlight in a series of book reviews pertaining to children/parenting. Let me be very clear from the outset: if you are a parent, you need to read this book. I anticipate using this book as a reference and encouragement as I attempt to raise my children to fear God.

What is so special about this book? Besides the experience and wisdom of an experienced pastor, counselor, school administrator, and parent, I’ve listed a few characteristics that set it apart from other books on parenting.

  1. Scripture-saturated. Every page of this book drips with Scripture and and scriptural principles. While it can become a temptation to turn to modern-day gurus instead of the Bible when it comes to parenting, Tripp points you back to the Bible time and again. From the outset, he frames the challenge facing parents in terms of Proverbs 4:23 “Keep [guard] thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Your kids don’t have a behavior problem; they have a heart problem. This book is meant to address that problem.
  2. Gospel-centered. The goal of every discipline situation, according to Tripp, is to point up your child’s inability to meet God’s standard and his need for the work of the cross in his life. Sounds good to me. I don’t want kids who merely behave well and say “please” and “thank you.” I want kids who–first and foremost–are broken over sin and grateful for the work of Christ.
  3. Comprehensive. Tripp keeps parents of all stripes and in all stages in mind. The last several chapters address the specific needs and goals of each stage of a child’s life. This book is not for parents who are just now getting started. It’s for anyone with kids. period.
  4. Non-pop-psychological. Sorry…I couldn’t think of a better way to say that Tedd Tripp’s teaching is strictly Bible-based. He overtly rejects the principles of pop psychology. If you are looking for a book to tell you how to boost your kids’ self esteem or a primer on how to implement the “time out,” this is not the book for you. However, if your desire for your children is that they grow up with the blessings of obeying and loving God, if you want kids who rejoice in the Gospel, and if you want to one day be able to share a mutual–spiritual–relationship with your children one day, then read this book.
  5. Extremely humbling. I found myself asking God for mercy, forgiveness, and help as I read through this book. My personal ability to parent effectively amounts to nothing. Tedd Tripp holds up our normal conventions of parenting against the high and holy standard of the Word of God, and I come up short. This book will make you squirm, but you’ll squirm right into God’s rich blessings. Parenting is impossible. But with God all things are possible.

Tripp relates the joy he receives from reaping the fruit of biblical parenting:

I recently had a conversation with my son. He was talking to me about the things God was teaching him. He shared new insights into himself and what it means to know God in more than theoretical ways.

As we talked together it seemed that I was talking not just with my son, but with another man. I wasn’t instructing him. We were sharing the goodness of knowing God. I felt a wonderful sense of mutuality with this man (who was once a boy whom I instructed and disciplined and for whom I had strived in prayer). Thank you, God. (p. xxi)

I don’t know about you, but that’s what I look forward to. God’s in control, but I pray that one day my children and I can challenge each other as friends who know and love God. I pray that God helps me implement the principles expounded in this book.

One Response

  1. […] know from the outset, this review is going to take a slightly different tack from the previous two (here and here), so I humbly ask that you at least skim the whole article. You are probably vaguely […]

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