Monday, December 13

Matters of the Heart

Disciplining your children is difficult.

For me, its mostly two-faceted.  (Is that even a correct phrase?)  I fall under two extremes: venting my frustration through discipline and ignoring sinful behavior because I'm lazy or tired or its inconvenient.

Are you with me?  The past couple of weeks have been difficult in the discipline arena.  I want my children (namely my almost three year old) to behave rightly.  My reasons seemed appropriate: I want her to grow up to be a responsible, godly adult.  I want her to respect authority, which starts in the home.  I want children whom others look to as examples of how they should live their lives.

Responsible, godly, respectable, example...these words kept ringing in my ears as I struggled to punish and correct.

In a moment of "last resort" - I stopped by the pastor's office yesterday after church to see if I could borrow the book, "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp.  I first heard of the book years ago in Bible college, then it was referenced again in a few biblical counseling seminars I attended, even friends recommended it.  I won't say it was pride, but more a lack of need that caused me to dismiss it.  I wasn't at a place yet to truly understand what shepherding my child's heart would need to look like.

Then parenthood came...what a busy time!  I spent so much of my nesting on material things, like getting the nursery ready, buying diapers and bottles; little did I know how important it was for me to be focused on the eternal during those days.

Hear me, I haven't neglected the Lord in my parenting.  If anything, I have desperately thrown myself at the foot of his cross each night, begging for forgiveness and guidance...and new mercies the next day.

So, yesterday, I borrowed the book from my pastor.  We ate lunch and with anticipation, put the children down for afternoon naps.  I couldn't wait to dive in.  (You know the feeling of "want" when it comes to the Lord...knowing He has a word for you that meets exactly your need at the moment.  It was with that kind of anticipation that I opened the book.)

I'm only through chapter four, but Lord has already begun to do a great work in my heart as it pertains to correcting and guiding my children.

My focus in parenting has been justice, really.  An eye for an eye, a consequence for a wrong action.  I mean, isn't that what they need to know to enter this scary world we live in?  Yet, behavior isn't the root of the problem.  Behavior is really only the fruit of the problem.

As I prepare to continue to read and learn today, I'm shifting my focus to the cross.  My children are sinful.  They need Christ more than ever.  Every wrong action they commit stems from a heart condition: selfishness, greed, malice, revenge...(I'll say those three, because they are prevalent in our home).  Their hearts need rescuing.

My prayer today is this:  Lord, help me to be your agent of change for my children.  Draw them closer to you as I guide them on the path you have chosen.  Help them to see a picture of Christ and his grace through me.

Now, where's that book...


Sarah said...

I love that book! Loren and I are currently reading through the book and the workbook. It truly gives the right perspective and Biblical basis in raising children for the Lord.

Jenni said...

I've Heard of this book but the reviews I read on it sent me running in the other direction! I'm sure there are some good points to glean from it, but I would have a hard time weeding out the bad.
I would highly recommend "How to Really Love Your Child" by Campbell and any parenting book by Dr. William Sears. These books focus on building attachment to your children so you really know and understand them. They focus on kindness, grace, empathy, and understanding - all qualities that Jesus shows in His dealings with us. Attached children know they are loved and when a child knows they are loved, they don't feel like they have to act out. It's a lovely combination!

Sarah Young said...

So good! Thank you for sharing...this is just what I needed today.

I do daycare and I find it so much easier to be patient with my daughter than I do my daycare kiddos, and I know that isn't fair to them. What you shared was just what my heart needed!

Rachael Neal said...

Jenni -

Thanks for the recommendations on books. I try to stick to reading instructive books that are written by authors that have the same world view I do. My entire life is devoted to serving Christ, so therefore everything I do as a parent is governed by the Word of God. Because the Bible is my foundation for truth, I love the book I recommended in this post. It focuses on God's plan for our children and how He uses us as parents to accomplish that plan...which includes showing grace, empathy and understanding towards our children, along with the consequences of sin. Plus, its chocked full of Scripture!

I'm really not looking for a book on the do's and don'ts of parenting, rather a biblical perspective on how God expects my parenting to look based on His Word.

Blessings to you and your family!

Rachael Neal said...

Sarah - I'm so happy to hear that! I know that God has been doing a great work in my heart over the last few weeks. Trusting Him can be the hardest thing. But, its imperative that I follow His Word. I want to be the best living example of Christ to my children on this earth!

Lee and Candace said...

Awesome Rachael. Lee got to read this and I have yet to. Maybe I need to get into sooner than I thought! Thanks for your post!

Wolters said...

Thanks Rachael for such a well written post. I have this book on my to read list, but think I will be getting in the next few weeks. :)

Wolters said...

Oh by the way I heard a family life today broadcast where they had the author on and he was talking about his other book instructing a child's heart. I put that one on my list and then they mentioned the one you are reading the last day he shared so I added that one. If you really like this one you might enjoy that one as well.

Jenni said...

You're welcome! I really hope you'll do some research on the books I suggested before you discredit them. Dr. Campbell and Dr. Sears are both Christians who share our "worldview". I was given "How to Really Love Your Child" by my mother and it has been such a blessing to me an my family. My mom and I would recommend that book to any parent interested in being an example of Christ in their children's life.

Pam said...

Thank. You. Thank you! I know I'm not alone when it comes to a child that can be frustrating, but sometimes it's nice to hear that I'm not alone.
I have read that book in the past and I truly believe it to be one of the best parenting books ever! The second best would have to be "Grace Based Parenting" by Dr. Tim Kimmel. Both of those books combined showed me how much God loved His children and wants us to raise our children in a way that is showing our child Christ. Powerful and needed reminder to me. Thank you.