Parenting by Paul David Tripp

I have been wanting to read this book with a group since I came across it early last year. Just a few pages in I knew it was going to radically shift my parenting. I briefly walked through some of the Introduction on my Instastories yesterday, but for those that didn’t catch that or are still on the fence, this book is for anyone that feels swallowed up into the daily grind of parenting, wondering how these little people have the power to pull such irritation and frustration out of us. This book will COMPLETELY change the way you approach parenting and it is very counterintuitive, but it will provide you vision, motivation, renewed strength, and the rest of heart that every parent or caregiver needs.

The fundamental approach is based on the foundation of the gospel, and highlights ownership parenting vs. ambassadorial parenting. With ownership parenting, we tend to look at our children as belonging to us, and we end up doing things that are short sighted, not helpful in the long-run, more reactive than goal-oriented, and outside of God’s great, big, wise plan. It is not overtly selfish, abusive, or destructive; it involves a subtle shift in thinking and motivation that puts us on a trajectory that leads our parenting far away from God’s design. Ownership parenting is motivated and shaped by what parents want FOR their children and FROM their children. It is driven by a vision of what we want our children to be, and while it can seem right and feel right, it is foundationally misguided and misdirected.

Good parenting, which does what God intends it to do, begins with this radical and humbling recognition that our children don’t actually belong to us. His plan for parents is that we would be his agents in the lives of these ones that have been formed into his image and entrusted to our care.

The word the Bible uses for this intermediary position is ambassador. The only thing an ambassador does, if he’s interested in keeping his job, is to faithfully represent the message, methods and character of the leader who has sent him. He is not free to think speak, or act independently. Everything he does, every decision he makes, and every interaction he has must be shaped by this one question: “What is the will and plan of the one who sent me?” Parenting is about what God in grace has planned to do through us in our children. TO lose sight of this is to end up with a relationship with our children that at the foundational level is neither Christian nor true parenting because it has become more about our will and our way than about the will and way of our Sovereign Savior King.

I think we all often want short-term gain more than long-term transformation. I know I do. Often emotion is propelling me down the hallway to break up a fight for the seventeenth time, and that emotion is not love. The agenda motivating me is not grace. Sin makes all of us more demanding than patient. Sin causes all of us to find punishment more natural than grace. Sin makes it easier for us to talk at other people rather than listening to them. But here’s what this means: the thing that constantly gets in the way of our ambassadorial calling as parents is us.

Tripp walks through ownership and ambassadorial parenting in our areas that every parent, somehow, in some way, deals with: identity, work, success, and reputation. The way you think about and interact with these four things will expose and define who you think you are as a parent and what you think your job is in raising children.

Successful parenting is not about achieving goals (that you have no power to produce) but about being a usable and faithful tool in the hands of the One who alone is able to produce good things in your children. Are you ready to be free of the burden of being an owner and begin to experience what parenting looks like when you know that you have been called to represent the message, methods, and character of the Owner of your kids? Are you ready to be freed from the burden of trying to create change, and to experience the rest to be found in functioning as a tool of the One whose grace alone has the power to change? Then this book is for you. It is meant to yank you out of the daily grind and to consider the big picture of what God is inviting you to be part of as he works in the hearts and lives of your children. It is meant to help you see how radically different parenting becomes when you quit trying to produce change and become a willing tool of the grace that rescues, forgives and changes. Each chapter will introduce and explain a parenting principle that takes that grace seriously. Many of us are exhausted, discouraged and frustrated. How about considering a new and better way: the way of grace?

I am excited to read along with you all, and I want to encourage us to start this off right and create an environment of community and discussion. I have received several comments via direct message on Instagram, and I have asked those sweet ladies to come share here instead. Utilize the comment section below! Ask questions. Let us know what is pricking your heart as you read. Share your experiences — both failures and victories. When we are weak, we are strong, and we can lean on one another to help with encouragement in the hard times, and celebrate the wins together in the great ones.