Shepherding Ch.1: Getting to the Heart of Behavior

October 8, 2007

heart.jpg“The Scripture teaches that the heart is the control center for life. A person’s life is a reflection of his heart…the behavior a person exhibits is an expression of the overflow of the heart.” (Proverbs 4:23) (p.3)

A person’s heart determines his behavior, Tripp states in the opening chapter. This is reflected in Mark 7:21 which states,

“… from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.”

Evil starts in the heart. Likewise, what we say and do, and what our children say and do is a reflection of what is in the heart. This point is crucial in Tripp’s overall thesis as he asserts that,

“These passages are instructive for the task of childrearing. They teach that behavior is not the basic issue. The basic issue is always what is going on in the heart…the heart is the control center of life. Parents often get sidetracked with behavior.” (p.4)

Tripp asserts that a simple change of behavior is not enough. Your child’s needs in discipline “are far more profound thean his aberrant behavior. Remember, his behavior does not just spring forth uncaused. His behavior – things he says and does – reflects his heart. If you are to really help him, you must be concerned with the attitudes of heart that drive his behavior.” (p.4)

Tripp goes on to state that a change in behavior that is not a change of heart is pharisaical hypocrisy. Remember, Jesus rebuked hypocrisy.

I agree with Tripp in this chapter wholeheartedly. We must have rules. And rules are based on our moral calling. However, what is more important: a) your child “minding” you “because I said so”? or b) your child changing his behavior because he realizes that it is sin and and must be sorry (repent) for his sin?

I think you would agree that (b) would be far more important.

Tripp’s entire discipline philosophy is based on this: The heart is the issue, not the behavior.

Why does your child disobey your laws/rules? He has an unrepentant heart. Why does your toddler desire every toy for himself and say “that’s mine!” to his playmates? He has a selfish, sinful heart.

Until we understand this truth, our parenting will be stripped to the bare minimum of legalism…keeping laws for laws sake.

Do you find yourself concentrating more on your child’s behavior then his heartfelt actions?

And finally, here is a question that I’d really like some input from:

Why is it so easy to get sidetracked with behavior when issues of the heart are clearly so much more important?

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