I took my friend’s two toddlers home for a nap. While they were sleeping, I picked up the book Shepherding A Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp, off the piano and began reading. Although I do not yet have children of my own, I am fascinated by them. I love to spend time with them and see the world through their eyes. I love to learn from their purity. I love reading them books, listening to their cute little belly laughs, I love their hugs, and I love their cute little voices…
The author has a wonderful view of raising children. In his book, the Tripp explains that too often we have the wrong mindset with children, especially when it comes to disciplining. He explained that we too often focus on just the actions of a child, punishing them for doing something wrong, and correcting them, training them to do what we deem to be acceptable.
Instead of this, he said we should be looking at our children’s hearts. What is causing them to act that way? What’s going on in the inside that’s manifesting on the outside?
Our actions are always the overflow of our hearts.
We were created to worship. That’s not something that we morph into when we hit puberty, it’s not something that we begin to do over time (although we do get better at it). Children will worship something. That’s just how they, like us, operate. We all choose to exalt something. We all choose to put something (or someone) before all else. A heart cannot be two sided. It cannot have a multitude of masters. It’s either worshiping Christ or it’s worshiping self.
Tripp discusses that when children are acting selfish, that’s a sign of worshiping themselves. They are putting themselves, and their needs above those of others. It’s the job of the parents to help the child begin to realize this and to, assist them in growing in humility.
While reading the first seven chapters of Tripp’s book, I found myself convicted, and a little embarrassed. Ted does a wonderful job explaining that the actions are not really the problem, but often that’s what we focus on. Our society doesn’t really place a high value on why we act the way we act, but more on how we act, and what we look like.
In our culture, presentation is everything. We want well behaved children because it makes us look good.
Tripp suggests that instead of just punishing a child for their actions, we should be helping them explore their heart. We should be getting to the root of the issue. What’s inside of them? What’s going on in their heart? Where is the problem or the behavior stemming from. Treat the heart, and the issues will resolve.
Good people bring good things out of the good they stored in their hearts. But evil people bring evil things out of the evil they stored in their hearts. People speak the things that are in their hearts. Luke 6:45
Often, we view selfishness, putting ourselves above everyone and everything else as immature; when really it’s just an issue of our heart. An unhealthy heart is often masked under what we call juvenile behavior. Unfortunately, you don’t just grow out of an unhealthily heart, if you have an issue with jealously, you don’t just wake up one morning and it’s gone. It has to be recognized and dealt with. A clean heart is a process. You must work to make the healthy.
One thing I want to be careful about: I am not alluding to the fact that there should not be consequences for actions. Discipline and Love cannot be separated. The bible says that the Lord disciplines those He Loves (Proverbs 3:12 & Hebrews 12:16). Children are given to parents. They are a gift from God, really being His children; He just trusts us to steward them appropriately. We are called to be a reflection of Christ to those around us, especially those God has given to us to steward and care for.
What I am trying to say is this: Be continually asking yourself, “What is the condition of my child’s heart? What’s the condition of my heart? How can I model Christ to them? How can I encourage them to become more like Jesus?”
Children are amazingly wonderful. What an honor it is to do life with them. How cool is it that God releases them into our hands to mold and shape?
I am excited to one day meet my children and experience life with them. Until then (and continuing after), I will Love the children He has given to others. I will do my best to display God’s Love and power to them through my own life, and I will work on the issues in my own heart, continuing my journey in becoming like Christ so I can better make Him known to others.
Thank you God for Loving Children. May we learn to Love and care for them appropriately.