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Book Review – Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Last Updated: February 20, 2014

Rick Thomas

Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.  In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and in 1991 he earned a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with a MA in Counseling from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a  Fellow with Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).

shepherdingachildsheartTheological soundness and shelf life are two wonderful bookends for a worthy book, and Shepherding a Child’s Heart is a regular recipient of both accolades.

I first read Shepherding a Child’s Heart in the late nineties as a requirement for my MA Counseling Program. This was before our current 7-year old was born. Therefore, I was reading this book because I had to, rather than reading it for immediate application.

God changed my mind about the stated purpose of this book, and I began to make immediate, specific and practical application to my life. The application was not for my future kids. God, in his providential mercy, began to affect my heart. This book was not only for me, but it was about me.

My life story began to unfold from its pages. Tedd Tripp brought clarity to my childhood and how those early shaping influences had formed me into the person I am today.

He also gave me hope that I was not bound to some kind of genetic, familial or cultural determinism, but by the power of the Gospel I could be changed from those early childhood shaping influences and could be progressively transformed into deeper and more comprehensive Christlikeness.

It is one of those rare books that communicates bible truths so well that in a small way it imitates the bible by showing me a mirror in which I can see more clearly who I really am and what I can be.

If I could rename the book, I would call it Shepherding a Person’s Heart rather than Shepherding a Child’s Heart because it really does not matter what age you are or whether you have children.

The point and focus of the book has immediate application for any reader regardless of their season of life.
God did a wonderful work in my heart through the reading of this book as I learned to put into practice the following truths:

  • The foundation for change must be rooted in the Gospel. This starting point will affect my ending point.
  • You never ask if you are worshiping, but who or what are you worshiping.
  • There have been many shaping influences in my life that have oriented me in very specific ways.
  • My goal and primary focus must be toward God rather than anything else.
  • The starting place for change is not external behavior, but my heart.
  • Correction is not primarily about the parent or the child, but about God.
  • The event of salvation is not the goal as much as the nurturing process toward salvation and beyond.

There are many more truths, practicums, warnings and encouragements in Tedd’s book that make it a must read for anyone. I recommend you read it slowly rather than “just another book to get through.” Every now and then God gives us a book that stands the test of time because of its grounded theology and practical wisdom.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart is such a book.

Tedd’s little brother, Paul, has written the companion book for parents of teenagers, called Age of Opportunity. I have read this book as well and have found this tandem of books to be essential in child-rearing.