Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp is the first Shepherd Press title that I encountered. God used it as a means of grace to begin transforming the way that my husband and I parent. What sets Shepherding A Child’s Heart apart from other parenting books on the market is its unwavering focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how the Gospel influences everything in parenting from our goals to our methods.
Prior to reading this book, I had been greatly influenced by the concepts that I encountered in my psychology courses at a “Christian” university as well as those same concepts presented in “Christian” parenting books. After reading Shepherding A Child’s Heart, I realized that the counsel that I was following was incredibly unbiblical and detrimental to my children’s souls. Positive reinforcement and time-outs affect behavior but for the wrong reasons. When we use those methods and methods like them, we essentially contribute to developing good little Pharisees; we teach our children to consider consequences before they obey rather than obeying out of a love for God.
God also used Tripp’s book to confront me with my own heart. Often, my desire in disciplining my children was that I would have well behaved children for my own ease and comfort. God used Tripp’s book to show me how to apply the Gospel to my parenting. When my children sin against me, there is a greater problem; they are sinning against God. The most important thing that needs to happen in the lives of my children is reconciliation between my children and God. Each time my children sin, I have the opportunity to share the Gospel once again. My goal since reading Shepherding A Child’s Heart is that I would be an ambassador of God’s kingdom and an agent of reconciliation between my children and God. I cannot change my children’s hearts, but God can use me as an instrument of grace in the lives of my children to change their hearts.
Training children isn’t merely about behavior modification; it is about being used by God to present the Gospel to our children clearly and frequently. Shepherding A Child’s Heart is filled with Biblical teaching to help me apply God’s Word to my parenting. It contains many practical examples of how to apply Scripture and Gospel truth in our day-to-day parenting and is a means of grace to which I regularly refer as I seek to honor God in my parenting.