This week we welcome to the podcast parenting expert Tedd Tripp. He’s the author of two bestselling books: Shepherding a Child’s Heartand Instructing a Child’s Heart.Dr. Tripp, how important is it to help children understand their own hearts and how personal idols work in their heart? What are some practical tips for doing this well?

It is. Well, I think that ... well, one of the things I recommend for parents when I do seminars is to develop a heart notebook with your kids and do this in non confrontational times. So it is not when you are confronting them about things they are doing wrong or you are correcting them or instructing them or disciplining them, but in non-confrontational times, family worship, for example. Make... in five or 10 minutes a day, you know, don’t over burden them with it, one or two nights a week. Work in your heart notebook. Look up every passage in the Bible you can find on various topics like, for example, there are things like revenge or vengeance rather than entrusting myself to God or pride rather than humility or fear of man rather than the fear of the Lord or love of self rather than love of others or anger rather than peace making and so forth. So there are all kinds of attitudes of heart. I mean the Bible is rich with heart stuff.

I mean, if you think about it, Hebrews 4:12 says: The Word of God is living and active, sharper than a double edged sword. It pierces to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow and it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. That is a very interesting statement, because one of the primary uses of the Bible is to help us to understand our hearts, because the heart is desperately wicked. That is what Jeremiah 17:9 says. So we need to be wise and understand our hearts. We need to help our children understand their hearts. So I suggest to parents: Get out the heart notebook. Look at every passage you can find on these various topics. Write out all the verses on revenge and vengeance in your heart notebook. Whatever you do, don’t do a computer printout of all the verses and hand it to them. You want them to write it out, because in the writing process you are learning. And then look up biblical illustrations. For example, revenge. I mean, you have characters like Joab who is always going around disemboweling people out of revenge. I mean, it is a vivid illustration of revenge. Get them to give you illustrations. What does revenge look like in an eight year old? They will be able to tell you. Write it out with a heart notebook.

My point is that over a period of years, not days or weeks, but years just packing away at that heart notebook over time when kids are school age, say, six to 12, you are working on this heart notebook. You keep adding to it. You are helping your child develop a sense of self consciousness about internal motivation that then the parent can appeal to in the times of correction and discipline.

You know, {?} had a 14-year-old girl that came to her at the beginning of the school year. She said: Mrs. Tripp, I am having trouble getting along with the other girls at school. Now that is not very surprising, pretty common 14-year-old girls, they are catty. That is pretty common. What followed was uncommon. The girl said: I know the problem is I am very self righteous and proud and judgmental. I think I am off putting to the other girls. Now where doe that kind of insight come from in a 14 year old? You see, she is in a home where her parents talk about the heart. She is in a church where the pastors are not just urging right behaviors, but they are helping people understand the subtleties of our sin and the ways that our hearts stray from God.

You know, it is fascinating to me. The last verse in the book... in John’s epistle of 1 John is: Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. Now what is amazing is in 107 verses he has never mentioned idolatry. Yet idolatry is all through the book. I mean, you know, love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone lovers the world, the love of the Father is not in him. That is idolatry. I mean that is the language of idolatry. A contrast is being drawn there in John... 1 John two between loving the world and loving the Father and loving the things that are in the world, you know, the pride of live, the lust of the eyes. You know, all those things are idol issues. And that is why at the end of the book he says: Keep yourselves from idols.

So I think that helping kids grow up with insight into that, so you are not beating them up with it every time they do something wrong. Oh, you are a problem. You are full of pride. Not that at all. I am having rich times of Bible study with my kids. We are working on this heart notebook. We are really developing this compendium. I mean there are almost 700 passages in the Bible about the heart. You know, we have got a lot of resources to go to. We are developing these themes in the Word of God and then I am helping kids to learn how to do self-assessment. What was pushing and pulling me in that situation? Was it pride? Or was it self-love? Was it anger? Was I acting in revenge? You know, all those kinds of things, boy, if you can help kids learn to think in those ways, especially in non-corrective times. Then in the times of correction you have this truth that they have imbibed that they can... that they can rest... dig into, you know, when you are talking to them and correcting them.

Thank you Dr. Tripp. … That was Christian parenting expert Tedd Tripp, the author of two bestselling books: Shepherding a Child’s Heartand Instructing a Child’s Heart. … Well tomorrow we dive into controversial waters and discuss spanking, and talk about the place of physical discipline in parenting — a hot topic in the news here in Minneapolis. I’m your host Tony Reinke, we’ll see you tomorrow.