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Quotes by Tedd Tripp


What keeps us from being thoughtful listeners?… The simple answer is that listening is expensive. It requires changing the pace at which we live our lives. It takes time… The more profound answer to the question has to do with our humanity. We are members of a fallen race. We are proud, and proud people don’t listen well. We are fearful people, and fear keeps us from entrusting ourselves to others. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought. We are frequently hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. We are compulsively self-serving and often too full of ourselves to humbly listen to others.


We show respect for others when we listen. Listening says: “I value you and what you are saying; I value it so highly that I will do whatever I can to facilitate your communication. I believe that the time taken to listen is a good investment. I will listen and find joy in understanding the meaning and intent of your words.”


“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Pr. 20:5). The goals and motivations of the human heart are not easily discovered. The patience, skill, and ability of an understanding person are required to draw out those deep waters.


“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Pr. 18:2). The agenda of a fool in conversation is getting things off his chest. Even when he is not speaking, he is not truly listening. He is simply shaping what he will say next. His next volley in the conversation is not returning the ball you served, but serving a new ball.


Remember, (your child’s) behavior does not just spring forth uncaused. His behavior – the things he says and does – reflects his heart. If you are to really help him, you must be concerned with the attitudes of heart that drive his behavior. A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable. Is it not the hypocrisy that Jesus condemned in the Pharisees? In Matthew 15, Jesus denounces the Pharisees who honored Him with their lips while their hearts were far from Him. Jesus censures them as people who wash the outside of the cup while the inside is still unclean. Yet this is what we often do in child-rearing. We demand changed behavior and never address the heart that drives the behavior.


God has commanded the use of the rod in discipline and correction of children. It is not the only thing you do, but it must be used. He has told you that there are needs within your children that require the use of the rod. If you are going to rescue your children from death, if you are going to root out the folly that is bound up in their hearts, if you are going to impart wisdom, you must use the rod.


This God-given conscience is your ally in discipline and correction. Your most powerful appeals will be those that smite the conscience. When the offended conscience is aroused, correction and discipline can find its mark.


Romans 2:14-15 indicates that the conscience is your ally in teaching your children to understand their sin. The conscience within man is always either excusing or accusing. If you make your appeal there, you avoid making correction a contest between you and your child. Your child’s controversy is always with God.


Even a child in the womb and coming from the womb is wayward and sinful. We often are taught that man becomes a sinner when he sins. The Bible teaches that man sins because he is a sinner. Your children are never morally neutral, not even from the womb.


Behavior is heart driven, therefore, correction, discipline and training – all parenting – must be addressed to the heart.  The fundamental task of parenting is shepherding the hearts of your children.


Communication must be multi-faceted and richly textured. It must include encouragement, correction, rebuke, entreaty, instruction, warning, understanding, teaching and prayer. All these must be part of your interaction with your children.


I have used the phrase “shepherding the heart” to embody the process of guiding our children. It means helping them understand themselves, God’s world, the ways of God, how sin works in the human heart, and how the gospel comes to them at the most profound levels of human need. Shepherding the hearts of children also involves helping them understand their motivations, goals, wants, wishes and desires. It exposes the true nature of reality and encourages faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You undertake the shepherding process through (this) kind of rich, mulit-faceted communication.


Children trust you when they know you love them and are committed to their good, when they know you understand them, when they know you understand their strengths and weaknesses, when they know that you have invested yourself in encouragement, correction, rebuke, entreaty, instruction, warning, understanding, teaching and prayer. When a child knows that all his life you have sought to see the world through his eyes, and that you have not tried to make him like you or like anyone but a creature God made to know Him and live in the relationship of fellowship and communication with God for which he was made, he will trust you.


You must regard parenting as one of your most important tasks while you have children at home. This is your calling. You must raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You cannot do so without investing yourself in a life of sensitive communication in which you help them understand life and God’s world. There is nothing more important. You have only a brief season of life to invest yourself in this task. You have only one opportunity to do it. You cannot go back and do it over… To do this job of parenting well, it must be a primary task. It is your primary calling.


Your children are the product of two things. The first – shaping influence, is their physical make-up and their life experience. The second – Godward orientation, determines how they interact with that experience. Parenting involves 1) providing the best shaping influences you can and 2) the careful shepherding of your children’s responses to those influences.


Obedience is out of vogue in our culture. You can find classes that provide assertiveness training. Try to find classes in submissiveness training! Obedience is the willing submission of one person to the authority of another. It means more than a child doing what he is told. It means doing what he is told; Without Challenge, Without Excuse, and Without Delay.


Obeying when you see the sense in it is not submission; it is agreement. Submission necessarily means doing what you do not wish to do. It is never easy or painless. True biblical submission must be found in knowing Christ and His grace.


Character could be defined as living consistently with who God is and who I am.


As a parent you must exercise authority.  You must require obedience of your children because they are called by God to obey and honor you.  You must exercise authority, not as a cruel taskmaster, but as one who truly loves them.


As a parent you have authority because God calls you to be an authority in your child’s life.  You have the authority to act on behalf of God.  As a father or mother, you do not exercise rule over your jurisdiction, but over God’s.  You act at His command.  You discharge a duty that He has given.  You may not try to shape the lives of your children as pleases you, but as pleases Him.


Submission to earthly authority is a specific application of being a creature under God’s authority.  Submission to God’s authority may seem distant and theoretical.  Mom and Dad, however, are present.  Obedience to God is reflected in a child’s growing understanding of obedience to parents.  Acquaint your children with authority and submission when they are infants.  This training starts the day you bring them home from the hospital.


How can you balance discipline and love? Discipline is an expression of love… Rather than being something to balance with love, it is the deepest expression of love.


Many parents have a punitive mindset. They see discipline as the child paying for his sins. Rather than correction having the positive goal of restoration, it has the negative goal of payment. It is like the convict paying his debt to society by doing time in prison. This is not a biblical concept of discipline.


It is important that you let your children in on the fact that there is a sexual dimension to mom and dad’s relationship. Some Christians have the mistaken idea that their children should never see mom and dad in any intimate embrace. The result is that the fraudulent affairs on TV and in the lives of wicked people are the only expressions of sexuality that they ever see. I am not talking about inviting children into the bedroom, but about the importance of knowing that there is a sexual dimension to mom and dad’s relationship.


“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Pr. 18:13). The fool responds without really hearing, with no careful thought or consideration. Speaking in haste is shameful. When we don’t listen, we disclose a low regard for the other’s words and a high regard for our own.


The finest art of communication is not learning how to express your thoughts. It is learning how to draw out the thoughts of another.


I am always amazed at how quickly defiant teens find each other. The rebellious teen who is new to a school will find the fellow rebels before recess. Why is this? A teen falls in with rebellious company because he is a rebel, he does not become a rebel because of the company he keeps.


Determinism makes parents conclude that good shaping influences will automatically produce good children. This often bears bitter fruit later in life. Parents who have an unruly and troublesome teenager or young adult conclude that the problem is the shaping influences they provided. They think if they had made a little better home, things would have turned out OK. They forget that the child is never determined solely by shaping influences of life. Remember that Proverbs 4:23 instructs you that the heart is the fountain from which life flows. Your child’s heart determines how he responds to your parenting.


When children are little we often fail to engage them in significant conversation. When they try to engage us, we respond with uninterested “uh huh’s.” Eventually they learn the ropes. They realize that we are not interested in what goes on in them. They learn that a “good talk” for us is a “good listen” for them. When they become teens, the tables turn. Parents wish they could engage their teens, but the teens have long since stopped trying.


The most powerful way to keep your children from being attracted by the offers of comraderie from the wicked is to make home an attractive place to be. Young people do not run from places where they are loved and know unconditional acceptance. They do not run away from homes where there are solid relationships. They do not run from homes in which the family is planning activities and doing exciting things.


Your focus can be sharpened by the realization that discipline is not you working on your agenda, venting your wrath toward your children; it is you coming as God’s representative, bringing the reproofs of life to your son or your daughter. You only muddy the waters when the bottom line in discipline is your displeasure over their behavior, rather than God’s displeasure with rebellion against His ordained authority.


Biblical discipline addresses behavior through addressing the heart. Remember, the heart determines behavior. If you address the heart biblically, the behavior will be impacted. The expediency of dealing with behavior rather than the heart means that deep needs within the child are ignored.


Remember, the issue is never, “You have failed to obey ME.” The only reason for a child to obey mom and dad is that God commands it. Failure to obey mom or dad is, therefore, failure to obey God. This is the issue. The child has failed to obey God. The child has failed to do what God has mandated. To persist places the child at great risk.


The focal point of your discipline and correction must be your children seeing their utter inability to do the things which God requires unless they know the help and strength of God. Your correction must hold the standard of righteousness as high as God holds it… The alternative is to reduce the standard to what may be fairly expected of your children without the grace of God. The alternative is to give them a law they can keep. The alternative is a lesser standard that does not require grace and does not cast them on Christ, but rather on their own resources. Dependence on their own resources moves them away from the cross. It moves them away from any self-assessment that would force them to conclude that they desperately need Jesus’ forgiveness and power.


Repentance and faith are not rites of initiation to Christianity.  Repentance and faith are the way to relate to God.  Repentance and faith are not acts performed one time to become a Christian.  They are attitudes of heart toward myself and my sin.  Faith is not just the way to get saved, it is the lifeline of Christian living.


As a parent seeking to shepherd, you want to influence your (teen) to respond to the things that are reasonable, drawn from insight into human character based on Scripture. You are seeking to influence and provide counsel. You can accomplish nothing of lasting value simply by being an authority.


Teenagers experience frequent failure. As Christian parents you must become adept at taking your child to the cross to find forgiveness and power to live. You do your children great disservice if you strip away all the excuses for failure and force them to see their sin as it is, without giving them well worn paths to the cross.


Did you notice that no other books promise to help produce children who esteem others? How can you teach your children to function in God’s Kingdom where it is the servant who leads, if you teach them how to make the people in their world serve them?


Communication is the art of expressing in godly ways what is in my heart and of hearing completely and understanding what another thinks and feels.


Honoring parents means to treat them with respect and esteem because of their position of authority. It is honoring them because of their role of authority. If a child is going to honor his parents, it will be the result of two things. 1) The parent must train him to do so. 2) The parent must be honorable in his conduct and demeanor.


Let’s rethink this matter of getting your children saved.  Perhaps one of the problems with this perspective is that it looks for a major spiritual event of salvation and misses the spiritual process of nurturing your children.  It is your task to faithfully teach them the ways of God.  It is the Holy Spirit’s task to work through the Word of God to change their hearts.  Even when the Spirit illuminates and quickens them to life, it is a life of progressive growth.


The Gospel seems irrelevant to the smug child who isn’t required to do anything he does not want to do.  It seems irrelevant to the arrogant child who has been told all his life how wonderful he is.  But the gospel has great relevance for the child who is persuaded that God calls him to do something that is not native to his sinful heart – to joyfully and willingly submit to the authority of someone else!  Only the power of the gospel can give a willing heart and the strength to obey.


Even a child in the womb and coming from the womb is wayward and sinful. We often are taught that man becomes a sinner when he sins. The Bible teaches that man sins because he is a sinner. Your children are never morally neutral, not even from the womb.


The rod is not a matter of an angry parent venting his wrath upon a small helpless child. The rod is a faithful parent, recognizing his child’s dangerous state, employing a God-given remedy. The issue is not a parental insistence on being obeyed. The issue is the child’s need to be rescued from death (Proverbs 23:14) – the death that results from rebellion left unchallenged in the heart.


The rod is a parent, in faith toward God and faithfulness toward his or her children, undertaking the responsibility of careful, timely, measured and controlled use of physical punishment to underscore the importance of obeying God, thus rescuing the child from continuing in his foolishness until death.


The use of the rod is an act of faith. God has mandated its use. The parent obeys, not because he perfectly understands how it works, but because God has commanded it. The use of the rod is a profound expression of confidence in God’s wisdom and the excellency of His counsel.


Ask yourself this question. Who benefits if you do not spank you child? Surely not the child. The (biblical) passages make it clear that such failure places the child at risk. Who benefits? You do. You are delivered from the discomfort of spanking the child. You are delivered from the agony of inflicting pain on one who is precious to you. You are delivered from the inconvenience and loss of time which biblical discipline requires. I believe this is why the Bible says in Proverbs 13:24 – “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” According to this passage, hatred is what will keep me from spanking my child. Love will force me to it.


How do you go about giving a spanking? There are many problems to avoid. You must avoid responding in anger. You must avoid treating your child without proper respect for his person and dignity. You must temper unwavering firmness with kindness and gentleness. You must keep the spanking focused on issues of the heart.


Always remember the goal of family worship is knowing God. When you lose sight of that goal, family worship becomes an empty ritual.

Recommended Books

Instructing a Child’s Heart

Tedd Tripp

Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Tedd Tripp