Recommended: Shepherding A Child's Heart

Shepherding a Child's HeartNo book has shaped my parenting philosophy more than Shepherding a Child’s Heart.  As a dad (and when I was a pastor), it is always my first suggestion for parents who are asking for a resource.  Additionally, when I taught children’s ministry leaders in Kenya in November of 2007, I brought about 20 copies to give away. 

This book offers Gospel-oriented principles that are timeless and cross-cultural.  Tripp reminds us of the truth that we parents are our child’s primary God-ordained authorities, and that our goal must be to reach their hearts.  It is not about behavior modification, but about the Holy Spirit working through us to change their hearts.

Although the book does not give an abundance of specific applications, I’ve heard a leader say that he feels like that is one of the strengths of this book.  Often with parenting resources, we tend to expect a “to-do” list to follow, and we may begin to rely on that.  But in truth, since every family and every child is unique, it is better to depend on the Spirit and seek counsel of close community to determine specific applications.  So whereas principles can be universal, applications are not always so.

We have used this book immensely in parenting with a Gospel-oriented perspective for when our children were toddlers through grade-school age (I’ve read this book at least 3 times), and we plan to use it as a resource through their teenage years as well.  If you do not have a copy of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, I encourage you to get one today.

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  1. We're looking for a book for our Volunteer Team to use for a book discussion. Do think this would be a good fit?

  2. Not sure what your aim is, but I do think it's worthwhile. While the book's target audience is parents, I think the principles are universal for any children (such as those in our ministries).

    The big thing, I believe, that it will help volunteers think through is to realize that we need to move beyond looking at behavior, and giving kids a list of "good" things to do. We MUST reach their hearts.

  3. My only complaint of this book, is that he instructs parents to discipline in love, but doesn't clearly instruct parent on developing loving intimacy with their children, especially outside of the disciplinarian role. There are some other good books out there on this subject though and would be an excelent companion to this book. Highly recommend.

  4. That's a good point. He does not focus on that. On the other hand, I appreciate Tripp staying true to the purpose of his book, and not taking tangents. As you said, there are many other resources that would be good companions to this book.

    With me, the challenge is how do I balance between the main ways to show my children love -- which includes both discipline and fun/intimacy. (Though I would agree with Tripp that having the foundation of parental authority is key to having intimacy with my children.)