The book Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family is one of the best books on the subject that I have ever read. In fact, I have to admit I procrastinated a little bit with writing about it, because it was just so good I was afraid I wouldn’t do it justice.
What this book is not: it is not a handbook of practical tips and tricks to modify your child’s behavior. While the predominant theme throughout this book is grace, it is not a “grace-based parenting” book that strips you of your God-given authority as a parent.
What this book is: it is a perspective on your role as a parent that will very graciously take you by the shoulders and give you a good shake as if to say “Wake up, parent! You’re missing it!” It is a biblical and humbling look at the pivotal and crucial role that grace, mercy, and humility play in godly parenting.
I was reminded and encouraged throughout the book that I, as a sinner-saved-by-grace-human, have no power to change my child’s heart, just as I had no power to change my own heart. When I try to use the law to accomplish what only God’s love and grace can do, I set myself and my children up for frustration and failure.
When I view my ministry of parenting through the lens of the Gospel, being mindful of the amazing grace that God bestows on us each and every day, it has the power to change everything. Everything.
Because this book focuses on the foundation and framework of parenting, and does not offer practical how-to’s, you may feel frustrated when you finish the book. I believe the author did this on purpose so as to emphasize the fact that you as a parent are merely a tool in the hand of the Father, and that having a bag of “tools” that you pull out to change your children will never work.
That said, I would highly suggest that after reading this book, follow it with the classic Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp,which has a similar perspective on parenting and offers some strategies for implementation. But read Parenting first, as it sets the foundation! I have read a lot of good parenting books, but I wish I had read this one first. It puts everything else in the right perspective.
A couple of others that I would recommend to go along with Parenting and Shepherding are The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict books by Ken Sande & Corlette Sande.
As I feared, my short review does not do any justice to this book. I will close with a few of the passages I highlighted, (I highlighted nearly the entire book) and strongly encourage you to go and pick up a copy of it for yourself.
Oh! I almost forgot. Tripp talks about the Bible verse which he believes is the best parenting verse in the Bible. I won’t tell you what it is, but it was so simple, obvious, and completely unexpected, that it blew my mind. And I would have to wholeheartedly agree with him.
I do not think that this book is only for parents. It should be read by anyone who has any role in ministering to children, is involved in teaching or mission work, or who desires to obey the Great Commission through discipleship.
“So if zeal for ministry causes me to be less than faithful to my calling as a parent in the way that I manage my time and energy, I am seeking to get something out of my ministry that I am not supposed to get.”
If all you’ve given your children is fear of you, then when they leave your home, they will no longer have anything to motivate them to do what is right.
When you are willing to confess that you’re the biggest problem in your parenting, you are on the road to very good things in you and in your work with your kids.
If rules and regulations had the power to change the heart and life of your child, rescuing your child from himself and giving him a heart of submission and faith, Jesus would have never needed to come!
It’s not our children’s sin that is in the way of good parenting; it’s our tendency to make parenting about our little kingdom of wants, needs, and desires, and our tendency to want our children to serve the purposes of our kingdom rather than submit to the purposes of God’s kingdom.
Like all tools of parental control, guilt and shame have a short-term positive harvest and a long-term negative legacy. At some point every child quits being moved by guilt and begins to get tired of being put down.
God didn’t give you your children to build your reputation but to publicly proclaim his….It never works to treat a child, who is still broken and needs to be daily rescued by grace, as your trophy.
…parenting is not a behavior-control mission; it is a heart-rescue mission.
It is only rest in God’s presence and grace that will make you a joyful and patient parent.
Here’s the core mission of parents: to raise up children who approach everything in their lives as the disciples of Jesus.
If you are going to raise willing disciples of Jesus, you need to patiently communicate the story of his amazing grace to your children again and again.
Mercy is not about being wishy-washy. Mercy is not about letting down your standards. Mercy is not about acting as if the bad things your children do are okay. Mercy doesn’t mean that you abandon discipline and correction. Mercy doesn’t mean that you quit holding God’s law before your children. Mercy is not letting your children decide what they are not mature enough to decide or control what they aren’t able to control. Mercy is not about always saying yes and never saying no. Mercy is parenting with a tender heart.
Faith as a parent means that you rest every day in God’s presence and power, and because you do, you aren’t frustrated by your limits. It is vital to remember that God will never ever ask you to be anything more than a tool in his powerful and capable hands. You are freed from the burden of changing your children. You have been liberated from the responsibility to make them believe. You have not been asked to cause them to think or desire what is right. You are simply called to expose what is bad, point to what is good, and talk about the Redeemer who can lead them from the one to the other.
(I told you, I highlighted almost the whole book.)
(Disclaimer: Obviously, I do not necessarily endorse everything in any of these books, or anything else the authors have written.
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