Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 7: Discarding Unbiblical Methods

In the past few chapters, we focused on what of our parenting goals are and why they are our goals. But we must also realize that God is just as concerned with the how of parenting. The means are just as crucial as the end result. In this chapter, Tripp gives a representative (not exhaustive) list of some unbiblical parenting methods. It is crucial to remember that we must not evaluate our methods based on our feelings or experiences. Rather, we must assess whether these methods are biblical and whether they bring glory to God. A summary of some of these unbiblical methods:
  1. Heritage. This usually comes from thinking, "I was raised this way, and I didn't turn out so bad." But tradition does not necessarily equal biblical.
  2. Pop psychology and behavior modification. Some "experts" encourage the use of bribery or behavior modification as an effective method. However, these methods don't deal with the heart; rather, they just address the behavior issue at hand. Making contracts with your child does not easily address the heart issues of esteeming others and submitting to authority, for example. Furthermore, in rewarding children for fulfilling their normal responsibilities, we are appealing to their greed and self-focused desires. Instead, we ought to appeal to God's standards.
  3. Emotionalism. It is good to share feelings, but that should not be the main point of reference for reaching a child's heart or for changing his behavior. Again, the appeal should be that they must obey for the glory of God.
  4. Punitive correction. Be careful that in punishing your child, that you are not doing it out of frustration. Discipline and consequences are needed, but the parent must be constantly engaging the child with formative instruction as well.
  5. Erratic eclecticism. Do you get a variety of ideas from a variety of sources? Do you continually mix them, discard them, and try new ones, in an attempt to find something that "works?" This will usually lead to frustrated parents and confused children.
In summary, we need to remember that unbiblical methods (such as those described above) lead to superficial parenting, instead of getting to the heart-issue. It's not that we should ignore behavior. "Biblical discipline addresses behavior through addressing the heart."

The main problem with addressing behavior is that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to shift the focus from behavior to the message of the Gospel. "The gospel is not a message about doing new things. It is a message about being a new creature. It speaks to people as broken, fallen sinners who are in need of a new heart. God has given His Son to make us new creatures."

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