Shepherding: Introdution

October 3, 2007

sjff_03_img13901.jpgThe only safe guide is the Bible. It is the revelation of a God who has infinite knowledge and can therefore give you absolute truth. God has given you a revelation that is robust and complete. It presents an accurate and comprehensive picture of children, parents, family life, values, training, nurture, and discipline – all you need to be equipped for the task of parenting.” (p.xix)

In the universe of parenting philosophies, what often gets left out is what the Bible says about this subject. This is one of the reasons that we give this book out to parents when their child is dedicated to the Lord and to the congregation. This is also one of the reasons why I have decided to do a thorough and lengthy review of this book.

Tripp wastes no time in stating that the church has not been biblical in its approach in the past.

“The church borrowed the old ‘you listen to me, kid, or I’ll cuff you’ method of raising children. It seemed to work. Children seemed to obey. They were externally submissive. This method fails us now because our culture no longer responds to authority as it did a generation ago. We lament the passing of this way of rearing children because we miss its simplicity. I fear, however, we have overlooked its unbiblical methods and goals.” (p.xviii)

So, what does Tripp say for us to do? Our parents and our grandparents didn’t raise us biblically?

“Let me overview a biblical vision for the parenting task. The parenting task is multifaceted. It involves being a kind authority shepherding your children to understand themselves in God’s world, and keeping the gospel in clear view so your children can internalize the good news and someday live in mutuality with you as people under God.” (p.xix)

A kind authority…this is likely to be misconstrued as being ‘weak.’ However, Jesus who was described as kind and meek was far from weak. Tripp expands on this:

“God calls his creatures to live under authority. He is our authority and has vested authority in people within the institutions he has established (home, church, state, and business). You must not be embarrassed to be authorities for your children.

Our culture tends toward the extreme poles on a continuum. In the area of authority, we tend either toward a crass kind of John Wayne authoritarianism or toward being a wimp. God calls you by his Word and his example to be authorities who are truly kind. God calls you to exercise authority, not in making your children do what you want, but in being true servants – authorities who lay down your lives.” (p.xix-xx)

And here is the main quote:

“The purpose for your authority in the lives of your children is not to hold them under your power, but to empower them to be self-controlled people living freely under the authority of God.” (p.xx)

Furthermore, Tripp then asserts that the parent is also the child’s guide, or shepherd, as he or she is growing up. This involves, “investing your life in your child in open and honest communication that unfolds the meaning and purpose of life…values and spiritual vitality are not simply taught, but caught.” (p.xxi)

In other words, children need to not only hear a sermon, they need to see and experience one from their shepherd/pastor: you.

Finally, Tripp asserts that “the central focus of parenting is the Gospel.” (p.xxi) And here is one of the most important statements that he makes:

“Your parenting goal cannot simply be well behaved children. Your children must also understand why they sin and how to recognize internal change.” (p.xxii)

Tripp will develop this idea throughout the rest of the book.

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