Shepherding a Child’s Heart
a) Authority – we all live under authority
i) He is our authority
ii) He has vested authority to institutions He has established
iii) We have been given authority as God’s agent over our children
(1) We must not direct them for our own convenience or agenda.
(2) We must direct them on God’s behalf for their good, according to His will.
b) Shepherding – best description of the activity of the parent to a child
i) Not only shepherd the “what” of their child’s actions, but also the “why”
ii) Must shepherd the child’s thoughts, and teach him to learn discernment and wisdom
iii) We must invest in their life, through open and honest communication which is unfolded over time, the meaning and the purpose of their life
iv) Pro 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Parenting is shepherding your child’s heart in the ways of God’s wisdom
c) The Totality of God’s Word – central focus of our parenting
i) Tend to focus on behavior (what they did, what was their sin, etc.) - exterior
ii) Need to redirect that focus to applying God’s Word to the attitudes of their hearts - interior
iii) We must address the “why?” because they must understand why they have sinned and recognize their own internal processes for that sin.
iv) Ultimately our children must internalize the gospel for themselves.
2) Getting to the Heart of Behavior (F.A.B. – functional assessment of behavior)
a) The heart determines behavior (control center of life)
i) Mar 7:20-23 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
ii) Luk 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
(1) What children say and do is a reflection of what is in their hearts.
(2) Behavior is not the basic issue. It’s just a manifestation.
(3) The attitudes and issues of the heart are what drive behavior.
(4) Any change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is condemnable (hypocrisy?)
(5) As parents shepherding our children we must help our children understand, how their straying heart has resulted in wrong behavior.
(6) Our disciplining must not neglect to address the attitudes of the heart.
3) Nature vs. Nurture
a) Individuals’ innate qualities vs. personal experiences
b) What is neglected as a consideration is our response and interaction to our experiences. We CHOOSE!
i) Structure of Family Life
ii) Family Values
iii) Family Roles
iv) Family Conflict Resolution
v) Family Response to Failure/Disappointment
vi) Family History
(1) Mistakes in Understanding these influences
(a) Assume that children are helpless victims of circumstances
(b) Or we deny it’s importance
(i) Causes to believe the error that if we make the perfect home of shelter and protection, always being positive, send to Christian schools or home school, and provide the best possible experience, then our child will turn out ok. Proper environment = proper child.
(ii) Neglects the child’s involvement in the whole process, believing he is but a passive participant in this molding process.
(iii)Potter and the clay
4) Non-Neutrality of Children
a) Rom 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (19) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. (20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
i) Children are not neutral. They choose more and more consciously as they mature physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. Children may be unconscious of their religious commitment, but they are never neutral. He either bows before God or bows to the idols self-erected in his own heart.
ii) Children must be trained to recognize the subtle idols they have erected and how they are contrary to the Word.
iii) A parents’ task is to shepherd him as a creature who worships and point him to the one who alone is worthy of this worship. The question is not “will he worship?” but “whom will he worship?” (like faith)
b) Implications for Child Rearing
i) Shepherd a child by reaching his heart.
ii) Since they are creatures made in the image of God, they can only find fulfillment and happiness in knowing and serving their Creator.
iii) Kids are not selfish & rebellious against authority for a lack of maturity. They are reflections of the heart of the child. They are not just going to grow out of it.
(1) Joseph should’ve been bitter, cynical, resentful and angry if man is solely shaped by his experiences.
(2) But because he entrusted himself to God throughout, responding in a living relationship with God, He committed himself to the unfailing love and covenant mercies of God.
c) As we address the issues of their hearts through a combination of communication and discipline, we pray that God will work in and around our efforts and the responses of our children to make them people who know God and honor Him.
5) Who’s in Authority and Why?
a) Confusion about Authority
i) What is the nature of parental authority?
ii) Is it absolute or relative?
iii) Is authority vested because of the size difference between parents and children?
iv) Because we’re smarter and more experienced?
v) Because they are sinners and we’re not?
vi) Do we have the right to tell them to do anything we want them to do?
(1) (Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.)
b) Parents: Called to be in Charge
i) You have authority because God calls you to be an authority in your child’s life.
(1) You must shape the lives of your child NOT as it pleases you, but as it pleases Him.
(2) In this point of view, your instruction, your care and nurturing, correction and discipline are done because God has instructed you to do so.
(a) Deu 6:1-2 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: (2) That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
(b) Eph 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
(c) Both child and parent are under the same Master (Creator), but have differing roles.
c) Children: Called to Obey their parents
i) Pro 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
ii) God has given us a duty to perform, and our child’s endorsement is NOT necessary.
iii) Don’t be afraid to discipline your child:
(1) Pro 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him quickly.
(2) Pro 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
(3) Pro 23:13-14 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. (14) Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
(4) Ecc 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. (Capital Punishment is ineffective in our society because of this!)
d) Parenting Defined – it’s not all about discipline (teachable moments)
i) Deu 6:6-7 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: (7) And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
(1) Children must be made to understand life, themselves, and their own needs from a biblical perspective.
(2) Parents must know what makes their children tick and how they are unique from others.
ii) Clear training objectives needed
(1) List strengths and weaknesses of children
(2) Short and long-term goals
(3) Strategies for parenting
(4) Methods and approaches for addressing attitudes of the heart, how to address them
(a) Gen 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
(b) Command them to keep the way of the Lord, knowing and helping them to understand God’s standard for children, teaching them that they are sinners and pointing them to the grace and mercy of God through Christ’s life and death for sinners.
iii) Misguided parents
(1) Believe their anger has a legitimate place in correction and discipline
(2) Discipline becomes a time when mom and dad manipulate their children through raw displays of anger.
(a) Child learns to fear man, not God
(b) Jam 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (20) For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
(3) Discipline should be corrective and not punitive
(a) Not because we’re offended, or in anger, or to be vindictive, or because they irritate us and we want to air out our frustration.
(b) Discipline orbits around God being offended, and you bringing restoration to God once again.
(i) Discipline is then remedial, designed to move a child who has disobeyed God back on to the path of obedience.
(ii) This brings about righteousness and peace, rescuing them from the path of danger and redirecting them onto the path of righteousness.
(c) Discipline must be connected to principles and absolutes of God’s word and that must be communicated to the child.
(d) The issue of discipline is for character development and having children learn to honor God in all things and at all times.
6) What are your goals for children and why?
a) Develop Special Skills (athletics, dance, piano etc.)
b) Psychological Adjustment
c) Saved children
d) Family Worship
e) Well-Behaved Children
f) Good Education
h) Rejecting things that are abhorrent to our God (cultural influences).
i) Every parent must develop in a child spiritual biblical world view.
ii) Must learn that they are creatures made in the image of God, albeit fallen, nevertheless made for God.
iii) They will find themselves, meaning, and purpose only when they find themselves in God.
iv) Our biblical counsel must lead our children to entrust themselves to God’s Word, care, and protection.
v) This counsel comes through a combination of the Word and revelation and directs the child’s heart to God and not to rely on self or man.
vi) In all of these good goals we need to highlight the biblical principals that apply to them.
7) Embracing Biblical Methods: Communication
a) God’s word must inform us not only of our goals, but also of our methods.
b) Biblical approach involves two elements essential to biblical childrearing:
i) Pro 23:13-19 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. (14) Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. (15) My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. (16) Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things. (17) Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. (18) For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off. (19) Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.
ii) Pro 23:22 Hearken unto thy father that begot thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.
iii) Pro 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
(1) Rod of Correction
(2) Open-Hearted Communication
(a) Dialogue – both have ability to talk and listen
(i) Don’t just talk to your children
(ii) Talk with your children
(iii)The finest art of communication is learning to draw out the thoughts of another and we need to help our children articulate their thoughts and feelings.
(iv) When children are little, we often fail to engage them in significant conversation. When they try to engage us, we respond with uninterested “uh-huh’s”. After awhile they learn the ropes. They realize we are not interested in what goes on in them. What do you think happens when they become teens? The tables turn.
(b) Focus should be on understanding.
(i) Objective is not to tell our children how we feel about what they did or said.
(ii) But to understand and help them understand what is going on inside them (out of the heart…)
(iii)The why what was done is more important to understand than what was done. What was the temptation? What was his response?
8) Types of Communication
a) Rules – Correction – Discipline
b) Encouragement – Correction – Rebuke – Entreaty – Instruction – Warning – Teaching – Prayer
c) This method not only disciplines our children, but also disciples them.
9) Shepherding a Child’s Heart
a) Helps them understand:
ii) God’s works
iii) God’s ways
iv) How sin works in their heart
v) How the gospel can meet their deepest needs
10) Counting the Cost
a) Honest, thorough, truly biblical communication is expensive.
b) Quality conversations not only take up quality time, but also a quantity of time.
c) That time requires flexibility, because they don’t share their hearts on a demand schedule.
Influence Age 0 ---------------------------------18 and on
Circle of Blessing – (Eph. 6:1-3) – children are to live within the circle of submission to parental authority. Submission to parents means HONORING and OBEYING. In the circle things go well and we have long life. Outside of the circle (disobedience) child is outside the place of covenant blessing. Through discipline parent must quickly restore the child to the proper relationship with God and the parent. The function of the rod and communication is rescue. How can we see our children in danger and not rescue them?
Most important lesson for the child to learn in infancy (0 – 4 or 5) is that HE IS AN INDIVIDUAL UNDER AUTHORITY. Child has been made by God and has a responsibility to obey God in all things.
HONORING – to treat with respect and esteem because of their position of authority. If child is going to honor his parents, we must train him to do so, parent must be honorable in his conduct and demeanor.
- how do they speak to you
OBEYING – child doing what they are told to do
Important point: submission to authority means that your child will have to do things that he/she does not wish to do.
Consistency is KEY. – if child must obey, any disobedience must be challenged and we must persevere until the lessons of submission are learned. Victory will not come to the faint in heart.
Obedience to parents is not a parent-child issue. It is an issue between the child and God in which the parents are God’s agents in drawing their child back within the circle of blessing.
Early years (0 – 4 to 5). Rod and communication are important.
We must not warn or ask if they want to spanked. They must understand that when we speak for the first time, we have spoken for the last time.
Childhood (5 -12 years) – now we are building on foundation of obedience. Character becomes key focus. We want our children to learn dependability, honesty, kindness, consideration, helpfulness, diligence, loyalty, humility, self-control, moral purity, etc. – emphasis is on the issues of the heart
Child and God: Is you child living in a conscious need for God and what is the content of his relationship with God? Is he concerned to know and love God? Is God a source of strength, comfort and help? Does he/she make choices that reflect knowing God? Is he/she moved by God’s ways and truth? Are they alive to spiritual realities? Do they talk to God? How do they talk to God? How do they think about God? Do they think of God as friend, a judge, a helper, a taskmaster?
Child and Himself/Herself: How do they think about themselves? Do they understand themselves? Are they aware of their strengths and weaknesses? Do they understand their personality? Are they shy or confident? Are they Arrogant or diffident? Are they chained by fears? Can they extend themselves to others?
Child and Others: What are our child’s relationships? How do they interact with others? Are they controlling or always being controlled? Do they try to get attention of others? Are they pleasant with others? How do they respond to being sinned against?
IN discipline – focus on the HEART – let’s focus not so much on the when and what – but most importantly the why! Our children need a heart change. Change in the heart begins with conviction of sin. Conviction of sin comes through conscience – so we must appeal to the conscience. We get to the root issue by dealing with the conscience.
TEENAGERS – What do we want our children to have?
fear of the Lord
adherence to parental instruction – according to Prov. 1:8-9 – listen my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. (Parent’s relationship with child must be honest.)
disassociation from the wicked. (Prov. 1:10) (parents make home attractive place to be for children)
If you are interested in more this material in greater detail, please purchase the book, Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.