The Parent Trap


From Paul Tripp Ministries.

The past two weeks I’ve been writing to you about living in awe of God and how it will affect your participation in the local church and the way you approach your career. Today is the third and final Wednesday’s Word devotional adapted from my newest book, Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, & Do.

I say this all the time: there are few things in life that rise to the same level of importance as parenting. How significant is the calling upon mothers and fathers to be the primary instruments in the shaping of a human soul? It’s a calling that we should accept with humility and holy fear, but also with excitement and courage because Christ is with us and for us.

But over the years, I’ve had thousands of conversations with Christian parents who are discouraged, angry, grieved and ready to quit (or who have already quit). Thousands of parents don’t know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. They’ve simply lost their way, or in many cases, they never knew the way to begin with.

Why is this? Well, there are several reasons I think, but for the sake of today’s devotional, I want to focus on just one: we have fallen into the trap of believing that our calling is to enforce LAW, when in fact God has chosen for us to restore AWE.

Are rules important in parenting? Absolutely! Your family won’t be able to function if every kid can do and say as they want. Is discipline necessary? Yes, the Proverbs are filled with reasons why. But, your parenting strategies must go deeper than setting up and enforcing rules. You must target the heart of your child.

Beneath the layers of their personality, your child has a heart hardwirded for awe, but sin has enabled their heart to wander from the Lord; you should know from personal experience! So, God has ordained for parents to do everything we can to restore the awe of God in the hearts of our children.

How do you do that? Let me give you four brief examples:

1. TALK: It’s very easy for us to settle for superficial and insignificant chit-chat with our kids. Instead, locate heart-focused and gospel-centered talking points and engage. Talk about the significance of human relationships and how sin h

as the ability to destroy them. Talk about the reasons why we can and should love difficult siblings, neighbors, friends and classmates. Talk about personal identity and the reasons we find it in the world instead of in Christ.

2. SHOW: God created the physical world to reflect his magnificence and power. Take your kids to see their favorite animal at the zoo and gaze in wonder with them at its size and color. Take a day trip to a mountain or lake; go fishing; watch the sunset – and while you’re there, remind your child that all of that creativity came out of the mind of God.

3. MIRROR: When your kids break God’s law, treat them as God treats us. Mirror the tone of his voice; mirror the look on his face; mirror the nature of his character. Every time you exercise authority, it should mirror the patient, firm, gracious, wise, loving, tender, merciful, forgiving and faithful authority of God.

4. SHARE: Finally, when your children struggle with sin, share how you struggle in the same way: “I get angry too when things don’t go my way at work – I know how you feel and I often react in the same way.” Or, “When people gossip behind my back, I want to spread nasty rumors about them, just like you.” Don’t pretend that you don’t struggle like your kid. Share in their pain and sin and point them to the help and hope found in Christ.

I said at the beginning of this devotional that we should approach parenting with humility and a holy fear. Why? Because you and I have no ability to talk, show, mirror and share as we’re called. Sin and selfishness hijack our best parenting intentions, and we’ll respond with anger, impatience and self-righteousness.

It’s only when we live in awe of God and his glory and his grace that we’ll be able to help our kids do the same. You can’t give away what your heart already doesn’t possess as a parent, so why don’t you spend the next few minutes asking the Lord to restore his awe upon your soul.

God bless

Paul Tripp

P.S. – If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out my newest book.

  1. What are some heart-focused, gospel-centered talking points you can engage with your kids today?
  2. What does your child love in the creation? How can you show him or her God’s glory through that?
  3. In what ways have you failed to mirror the authority of God this week?
  4. How have you acted self-righteously as a parent? Why are you and your kid more alike than different?
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