Guiding Children to Obedience to God

Recently, my two precious friends who I meet with once a week for prayer and encouragement decided to read through a book titled Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. Only two weeks into the book, I am feeling very convicted, while at the same time encouraged by the author’s words. This book is not the standard five step process to get your children to obey book. Tripp truly takes the word of God and unpacks the biblical model of the responsibility parents play in helping the children to be reconciled to God.

This morning as I finished off chapter four, a light bulb went off for me. In prior chapters Tripp mentions and stresses that parents are God’s agents. We are given “authority to act on behalf of God” (28). God’s ultimate purpose for every human being is to be reconciled to Himself. So as agents for God, parents are instructed to guide their children back to obedience to God.

“If correction orbits around the parent who has been offended, then the focus will be venting anger or, perhaps, taking vengeance. The function is punitive. If, however correction orbits around God as the one offended, then the focus is restoration. The function is remedial. It is designed to move a child who has disobeyed God back to the path of obedience. It is corrective” (36).

All too often, my discipline is vented anger instead of turning my child from the path of disobedience to obedience. Not from disobeying me to obeying me, but from disobeying God to obeying God. That is the real issue. Yes, I want children who obey, but more often than not, my discipline is a result of my not getting my way when I want it instead of being concerned about how the character of my child is being formed.

“While it is true that disciplined children are a joy to their parents, as God’s agents you cannot discipline for mere maters of self-interest or personal convenience. Our correction must be tied to the principles and absolutes of the Word of God. The issues of discipline are issues of character development and honoring God. It is God’s non-negotiable standard that fuels correction and discipline” (37).

So what does this mean for me? It means when I am in a hurry to get through schooling the kids and they just want to goof off and waste my time, I have to lay aside my personal convenience and self-interest and help them to see the character God wants to instill in their lives. When they are griping and complaining about doing their work, it is my responsibility to help them to remember God says “to do everything without grumbling or complaining” (Philippians 2:14). When they want to be lazy, it is my responsibility to help them remember God says “he who does not work, does not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). As I correctively discipline and help my children to be reconciled back to God, I am reminded of the lesson as well and I too am drawn closer to God.

My Heart’s Prayer: Lord, thank you for this reminder this morning of your desire to be reconciled to You. Thank you for the encouragement from your word on what to share with my children when they are on a path of disobedience. I pray that you will call to my mind scripture passages to share with each of my children throughout the day instead of yelling at them because I am not getting what I want. My you be glorified today! Amen.

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