The Heart: Impossible to Control

By: Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale Family Ministry
Getting your child to obey and heed your advice can feel like an uphill battle at times. What if we told you that your power as a parent doesn’t come from how much control you have, but rather, how you intently shepherd your child’s heart? Learn more about this concept of shepherding your child’s heart by reading this article and attending Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale’s free Parenting Talk event on Nov. 3!

Article reposted with permission by Shepherd Press.

It may be possible to control behavior. However, control of the heart is another matter.

As Tedd Tripp teaches, you can shepherd your child’s heart, but you cannot control his/her heart. So the purpose of your authority as a parent is to shepherd your children, to build them up, to strengthen them.
So the purpose of your authority as a parent is to shepherd your children, to build them up, to strengthen them.
However, attempts at controlling children without shepherding them will lead to frustration. Over time, attempts at control through rules will lead your children away from Christ (Colossians 2:23). Controlling your children in this way will weaken them and tear them down.

Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:10 says that God gave him authority for building up and not for tearing down. This is important. As a parent, you want to do far more than simply control your children.

Parental authority based on control leads to manipulation, domination, and failed relationships. Control is evidenced by pressure to solve problems quickly. When control is the focus, relationships suffer.
When control is the focus, relationships suffer.
Parental authority that is based on building up through shepherding takes time. It requires an investment in depending on God’s power and leads to lasting, deepening relationships.

Here are some examples of relying on behavioral control that will produce negative long-term damage to relationships with your children:

  • Manipulation — “Do what I ask and you can have a special dessert or you can go to the big game next week.”
  • Intimidation — “Do what I want if you know what is good for you.”
  • Emotional ploys — “It hurts me so much to see you argue, please stop so we can have peace.”
  • Power plays — “I am your parent; I am in control. You answer to me.”
  • Threats — “If you don’t come right now, no videos for a week.”
  • Blame-Shifting — “If you would behave, I wouldn’t get angry. “

True shepherding, building children up, is achieved by actively engaging in the spiritual battle for their souls. You understand that your authority is given to you by God so that in every situation you can point your children to the wonder of Christ. You do this by using God’s instruction and His methods of discipline:

  • You listen well so that your children know they have been heard and understood.
  • You use pleasant words, even when correction and discipline is required. You always let your children know they need the power of Christ to obey the Lord.
  • You make God the final authority, and not yourself. You do this by constantly referencing His Word.
  • Your house rules focus on keeping God’s commands and not your own preferences.
  • When your children sin against you, your response is one of compassion rather than hurt and anger.
  • You are more happy to see repentance than you are to see improved performance.
  • Your goal is to draw your children closer to Christ.
Shepherd your children toward Christ using the power of His Word.
Controlling the heart truly is “Mission Impossible.” Shepherd your children toward Christ using the power of His Word. Attempts to control children will produce angry children. Follow Paul’s direction:

Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic directly from Dr. Tripp, author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, he will be the guest speaker at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale Family Ministry’s Parenting Talk event on Thursday, November 3 at 7:30 PM. Click here for more information and to register for this free event taking place in person and online!
  • Martha Mora
    Para ser una gran ayuda para mis nietos. Y Saber disciplinarlos.

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