Children are Worshipers

“All humans have a Godward orientation. . . . Children are worshipers. Either they worship Jehovah or idols.” “He is wither worshiping and serving and growing in understanding of the implications of who God is, or he is seeking to make sense of life without a relationship with God. . . . Part of the parent’s task is to shepherd him as a creature who worships, pointing him to the One who alone is worthy of his worship.”

“Since it is the Godward orientation of your child’s heart that determines his response to life, you may never conclude that his problems are simply a lack of maturity. Selfishness is not outgrown. Rebellion against authority is not outgrown. These things are not outgrown because they are not reflective of immaturity but rather of the idolatry of your child’s heart.”

- Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child's Heart, 19, 21-23.

This last paragraph was especially striking to me. I so often hear the hope of parents that their self-centered children will one day "grow out of it." A brief observations of adults would quickly dash this hope. The only real progress with adults is that they learn to put up a good front, being more shrewd and socially acceptable with their selfishness.

Getting to the Heart of Parenting

“The behavior a person exhibits is an expression of the overflow of the heart” (3). See Prov 4:23; Mark 7:21; Luke 6:45. “Behavior is not the basic issue. The basic issue is always what is going on in the heart. . . . A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable” (4). See Matt 15.

“You must help your child ask the questions that will expose that attitude of the heart that has resulted in wrong behavior. How did his heart stray to produe this behavior? In what characteristic ways has his inability or refusal to know, trust, and obey God resulted in actions and speech that are wrong. . . . Help them see the ways that they are trying to slake their souls’ thirst with that which cannot satisfy” (5-6).

- Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child's Heart

The Parenting Task

"Let me overview a biblical vision for the parenting task. The parenting task is multifaceted. It involves being a kind authority, shepherding your children to understand themselves in God's world, and keeping the gospel in clear view so your children can internalize the good news and someday live in mutuality with you as people under God." Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child's Heart, xix.