Monday, May 21, 2012
Shepherding a Child's Heart
I'm participating in Amanda Pelser's book club for Tedd Tripp's book called "Shepherding a Child's Heart." Today I will discuss Chapter 12: Embracing Biblical Methods - Appeal to Conscience and Chapter 13: Shepherding the Heart - Summarized.
Most all people (except some with serious handicaps) have a conscience or "the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good." (Webster) I ask you, what is right and what is good? Who is going to set the standard for your family? God is the Author of life and He is the one who instructs us on all that is right and good. This is why it is so so so beneficial to expose our children to our Christian faith backed by God's Word.
When our children are trained in the Lord's ways under the grace of the Holy Spirit, they are attracted to what is true and beautiful and take offense to ways that violate God's Word. This will stir them to act virtuously.
Our words and our ways are not the organ of discipline. We need the Lord's direction and protection. Children will not hear a parent who spouts off words in anger when they disobey, backed by more words, backed by more words. The rod may be applied to a child only (Proverbs 23: 13-14) if necessary. Nevertheless, it is the Love from the Lord that will direct our children toward virtuous Christian living and eternal life in heaven.
In fact, our conscience is deeply tied to our purpose in life, which is: to know, to love, and to serve the Lord. Our conduct, intentions, and characters will more naturally fulfill this life-giving purpose when we are trained in the ways of the Lord.
Conscience is also a "sensitive regard to fairness or justice." (Webster) Parents do not want to only appeal to this part of their child's consciousness. I've witnessed some children in classroom situations where they are overly concerned with what is fair. They often end up complaining too much because they compare themselves against others or one group against another group. The virtues received from instruction in the Lord's ways has a way of lifting us out of this selfish tendency to think everyone has to be the same or there is something 'unfair.' We begin to appreciate the differences in each other. It is good to be fair but not overly obsessed with it. You can see that even some adults today have never outgrown this perception in life (cough cough).
The Lord knows we are sinners and so must we... then we will have an awareness that all need his guidance. Therefore, we need to compare ourselves (and others) to the standards of the Lord so that we stop comparing eachother and start loving our neighbors like good disciples. The Lord's children are happy with what they have and humble in their relationships.
Occasionally, parents will have to "work back from behavior to the heart" to "expose heart struggles." (p. 126) These struggles should focus on an attempt to strengthen our relationship with the Lord. Once this relationship is firmly established, our children will "know the true nature of reality" (p. 126) and be well on their way to "knowing themselves" (p. 126) as members of God's loving family.