Book Review: Shepherding a Child's Heart

Book Review: Shepherding a Child’s Heart
by Matt Glezos

There are a lot of books on parenting. Even in (or maybe especially in) Christian publishing circles, many many books have been written on the big questions of how we should raise our kids, how we should discipline them, what we should expect of them, and how we can lead them to truly know Jesus. These are big questions that deserve book length responses, but if you’re a new parent, or a parent just starting to study on this subject of “Christian parenting” where do you start? Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp is a very good place.

Written in 1995, this book isn’t really old enough to be a classic, but it’s one of those books that are on most pastors’ lists when it comes to the subject of biblical parenting. And there are some very good reasons why this is the case. Tedd Tripp’s approach to the issue of parenting is both foundational and practical. Meaning he starts by outlining the biblical vision for parenting found in the scriptures, and then he goes through just how to do it.

In his introduction he describes the current state of the Christian parent by saying,

Today’s parents are frustrated and confused. Children don’t act like they should and parents don’t understand why. Many have concluded the job is impossible.  Some simply turn away in frustration. Others keep trying to make the old 1950's  John Wayne approach work. Meanwhile, a generation of children is being wasted.

“Wasted” is an interesting choice of words. It suggests that there is an intended purpose for each life, and that childhood is integral to the eventual achievement of that purpose. Tripp addresses this idea head-on by listing common goals parents have for their children such as, good behaviour, educational achievements, or athletic excellence. In response he reminds the reader of the biblical purpose of each human being - to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This is the core of Tripp’s vision of biblical parenting, and I can tell you from personal experience raising our 4 young boys that though this goal is bigger and more challenging than the others, it is also more satisfying and life giving to your family.  

With this end in mind, you and your children will be challenged to gain the proper perspective of what is truly important in your life, and you will long for the genuine satisfaction of doing what you were meant to do. Of course this is not easy for us as adults, and it’s even tougher to teach to our kids. Thankfully, Tripp is thorough in his practical help in that he challenges our parenting methods as well as our goals. He provides clear biblical principles and practices to guide our discipline, communication and training from childhood to the teen years. And while there is nothing so exhausting as disciplining a 2 year old day after day, within the pages of this book there are solid truths and solid practices to hold onto in those times of frustration.

The other element I appreciate about this book is that it clearly connects the hard work of parenting in the early years with the later stages of a child’s life. Tripp makes it clear that parenting doesn’t get easier, but it certainly changes, and if we aren’t adjusting our methods we will only succeed in losing influence over our teenagers in the most tumultuous years of their lives.  

So it is without reservation that I recommend Shepherding a Child’s Heart to parents of children of all ages. I predict it will challenge you in many ways as it challenged my wife and I when our first child was just 2 years old. But the fruits of the biblical wisdom have grown in our family as a result, and I pray that they do in yours as well.
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Trip. 1st edition 1995, 2nd edition 2005. Shepherd Press.
Available on for $10.79.

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Categories: Book Review/recommendation,Written