Welcome back to the Ask Pastor John podcast. This week we welcome author and speaker Dr. Paul David Tripp. Most recently Paul is the author of the book Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do.
To prove it, this week we are talking about how awe matters for our spiritual growth, our Bible intake, our ministry aims, and even our news consumption, our weight loss attempts, our anxieties, our parenting methods, and our expectations of marriage and romantic love.
Parenting with Gospel Principles
Today I want to talk about parenting. Paul, you mention parenting in the book, and you’re finishing up another full book on parenting too. Explain why you’re writing another parenting book.
Frankly, the thing that initiated the book was Crossway came and asked me if I would be interested in doing a parenting book — and I had no interest in that at all. But I began to reflect on conversations I have had over the years with people who have read my brother Tedd’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart and who read my book Age of Opportunity about parenting teens. I had been concerned about the way those books are used by parents.
So I thought, as well meaning as those parents are, the thing that was missing was the understanding of the gospel underpinnings of those books. And so this new parenting book basically is fifteen gospel principles that begin every chapter, and then those gospel principles are applied to the process of parenting. I think it is a way of looking at parenting through the lens of the gospel of Jesus Christ in a very practical way.
Interesting. It dawns on me that what awes me and what awes my kids are often very different things — very different foods and music styles and movies. How does awe inform our work as parents?
One of the things you have to realize is that you are never just dealing with behavior problems in your children. You are always also dealing with heart problems. And the central focus of heart problems is this issue of awe. You have to look at your child and you have to think that this child was designed by God for awe. What that means is the awe of something will capture his heart. And what captures his heart will control his behavior.
Let me give an example. Young children are naturally in awe of themselves, inserting themselves in the center of the world, making it all about them, so that the battle about what to eat — “I won’t eat my peas” — is not because I have studied diet and I realize that peas don’t need to be part of my diet. It is not about diet at all. It is about awe. If I am awed with myself, then I do not want to be ruled. I do not want to be told what to do. You will not tell me what to put in my mouth.
Now to treat that just as a diet issue sort of misses the point of what is really initiating that — or when to go to sleep, or what is appropriate to wear where, or who my friend should be, or what I should watch on television or look at on my computer. All of those are subsets of a different issue: if I am an awe amnesiac — I think the universe is about me — then I should be able to control and dictate what I want to do, how I want to do it, and when I want to do it.
So what I want to do is expose my children to one who is greater — to use every tool that is available to me to blow them away with the stunning glory of God. Now God has helped us, because he has made a world that reveals him, so it is not unnatural to talk about God all the time. It is positively unnatural not to. Here is where all of this goes: it is not enough just to fight the battle of behavior; you have to fight the battle of awe on behalf of your children as well.
Rules and Their Role with Awe
That’s huge. So if I understand your concern, you are saying that rules-centered prohibition parenting cannot do this. But how do rules and awe work together?
Children need authority in their lives. They need their lives to be directed by God’s law. God’s law is a good thing. The thing that you need to realize is that law reveals sin, law gives me a guide for my living, but law can never rescue my heart. So as I am laying out reasonable rules for my children, which are an extension of God’s revealed law in Scripture, I want to also introduce them to the amazing wisdom, the amazing love, the amazing grace, the presence and power of the one who is the giver of that law, because what the law is meant to do — like everything else that God gives us — is drive us to him.
Wouldn’t it be sad to divorce God from his law and to make it a moral standard that has no Redeemer behind it? That is not biblical Christianity. That is not a biblical view of life. And so I want to use every moment of rule introduction, every moment of correction, every moment of discipline to point back to this amazing God who is wiser than we are, who knows what is best for us, and, in love, reveals that to us.
Man it sounds like a great book! So when is the new parenting book out?
I have no idea.