Instructing a Child’s Heart Review

Are you passionate about passing on your faith and vision to the next generation? Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp is written to help you achieve that goal. Tedd’s prior book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, focuses on reaching the heart through biblical correction. Instructing a Child’s Heart focuses on providing children with the Christian worldview they need in order to understand and accept correction. The book is full of inspiration for passionate housewives! The Tripps present the home as a place of constant learning that can transform our communities. They encourage parents, “Don’t think survival, think kingdom.”

In the first section of Instructing a Child’s Heart, the Tripps present the necessity of “formative instruction.” This is defined as teaching children how to believe, think, and live. Instruction must be aimed at the sinful hearts of our children. Biblically, the heart is presented as the centre of thought as well as emotion. Secular culture seeks to win hearts through promoting greed, selfishness, covetousness, independence from authority, and personal comfort. In our quest to win our children’s hearts for Christ, we must both exclude secular instruction from our homes and counter it with biblical formative instruction.

The Tripps argue that parenting tips, strategies, and formulas provide only shallow and temporary guidance for parents. Instead, parents are called to apply solid biblical truth over the long haul. Clear goals for parenting are presented and explained. These include working with our children to build God’s kingdom and internalising Scripture as our personal story. Through following the Bible’s call to continually teach their children, parents can provide them with a Christian culture that enables them to correctly interact with their world.

The second section of Instructing a Child’s Heart is the longest and provides more detailed information about the key biblical teachings we need to pass onto our children. This section covers the heart, the principle of sowing and reaping, God’s plan for authority, passing on a vision for God’s glory, wisdom and foolishness, being complete in Christ, and the importance of the church. Finally, part three of the book focuses on applying formative instruction. The Tripps address getting from behaviour to the heart, corrective discipline, communication, and the centrality of the gospel.

As I read this book, I found myself challenged many times about my own relationship with God. What do my life and our home communicate about the gospel and who God is? When it comes to parenting, there is no substitute for loving God and making the gospel central to our lives. God must be our treasure if He is to be a delight to our children. As the Tripps write, “We should impress truth on the hearts of our children, not to control or manage them, but to point them to the greatest joy and happiness that they can experience – delighting in God and the goodness of his ways.”

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