Book #4: Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp is a solidly biblical book on parenting that has been around for a couple decades.  Tripp, a pastor and counselor, delves into the scriptures to draw out the principles God provides for training up children to know and honor Him. He takes his focus of the book from Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” He shows how the actions of a child arise out of the attitude of their heart, and you cannot address the heart by addressing actions only. The focus of parenting must be getting to the heart of the child and helping them understand themselves through the grid of the Bible: that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, and God has given us Jesus. The primary goal cannot be behavior modification, social adeptness, stellar academics, or any other number of good pursuits. The primary goal of parents is to teach children that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Tripp walks through this biblical approach to parenting, as well as the problems with non-biblical approaches. The second portion of the book provides practical objectives and methods for different stages of childhood (infancy, school age, teenagers). He also addresses parents that may want to use these methods but their children are already in the second or third phase and how they can begin to incorporate these principles. As one on the cusp of parenthood feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing, this book was very helpful in providing a solid, biblical foundation as we move forward. Tripp gives no false promises of “follow these ten steps for the perfect child,” he has no misconceptions that any parent can follow these ideas perfectly, and many times he discusses the difficulty and toil of pursuing biblical methods of childrearing, though it is worth the work to obey God. It is a down-to-earth, realistic book that focuses on our need of the Gospel – in the child’s life as they grow and discover themselves and the world around them, and in the parents’ lives as they shepherd their children.

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