Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 6: Reworking Your Goals

By re-visiting the goals that were discussed in chapter 5, Tripp helps us examine and evaluate our motives in parenting. Also, we need to constantly seek proper balance with any area of our lives.

For example, there is nothing innately wrong with your child developing special skills. But is the activity being used to build your child's self-worth? Or, is it teaching him to trust in his own skills and abilities? Your child needs to be reminded that God gave him those skills, and that he needs to think about how those abilities can be used to serve others.

Are you concerned with your child's psychological adjustment? When he is being unfairly treated, are you helping him learn to fight back, or to trust in God? Using scriptural principles (such as Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:17-21; I Peter 2:23; Proverbs 15:1) and the example of Christ, you must train your child "to use hurt to learn how to love God and deepen their trust and confidence in Him."

Instead of focusing our getting our children saved, we should teach our children how knowing God and His Gospel impacts their lives -- with all their struggles, failures, and successes. Since salvation is at least as much of a process as it is an event, we need to trust Jesus for not only our eternal salvation, but also for daily living. Likewise, remember that family worship is not an end, but a means to the end of knowing God. Be flexible and creative as you seek to connect with your child's heart.

Do you have a Gospel-centered perspective when it comes to having well-behaved children? Good manners and morality, outside of the context of the Gospel, can be merely pleasant social norms. "In a biblical vision, manners are an expression and application fo the duty of loving my neighbor as myself." Children must be taught that acts of kindness should be done, not because Mommy and Daddy and society say so, but because putting others first is the type of life that Jesus modeled and expects from us (Philippians 2). Finally, Tripp cautions us to communicate a biblical perspective to our children regarding a good education. God intentionally gave whatever level of intelligence and gifts each child has. The child's repsonsibility is to be a good steward and to use those gifts to the fullest, always as working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

To repeat, these parenting goals are not evil, but they are insufficient (see Grace Church's recent teaching from Ecclesiastes 1 and 2). Perhaps it may be best for our children to be frustrated with this fallen world, rather than teaching them to cope with and manipulate their life without the help of the Holy Spirit. We must always point to the Gospel, and help our kids see their need for the power and grace of the Jesus Christ.

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