Trial is one of the main tools God uses to mature and complete us.
We cannot give in to thinking that difficulty comes because God is absent or passive. He is in the difficulty, using it as an instrument of maturity (James 1:2-8).
Paul David Tripp focuses on changing the heart, not just the behavior. Of the child. And of the parent.
He reminds me to check my own heart as I seek opportunities to help my children grow in godliness.
The problems that our teenagers bring home are an intrusion on our desires and plans for our lives. We tend to get angry, not because they are messing up their own lives, but because they are messing up ours.
We get captivated by our own plan, and we tend to lose sight of God’s.
We begin to think of our children as agents for our happiness, rather than remembering that we are called to be God’s agents of growth in godliness for them.
…If we are ever consistently going to see problems as opportunities, we need to begin with humble confession of our selfishness to the Lord.
Tripp gives lots of practical ways to partner with your teen to engage them and you in Christ-like character growth:
- Don’t wait around passively for your teenager to talk to you
- Don’t settle for non-answers
- Be positive
- Lovingly expose faulty thinking without making your teen feel stupid
- Become a partner in struggle by sharing your own struggles
- Always point your teenager to Christ
- Prepare your child to deal with culture in biblical ways
- Model the character of Christ
He reminds you to remind yourself of your own struggle with sin.
You’re a sinner. Don’t act surprised at your teenager’s struggle with sin.
...You should expect war. You should come to your relationship with your teenager armed for war, not with him, but with the true enemy (see Eph. 6).
If you are honest about your own experience, you will recognize that the battle with sin still rages within you.
He ends the book with small steps that can lead to big change for both you and your child:
- Never give in to thinking it is too late
- Stay calm
- Demonstrate how the Bible interprets life
- Be willing to bare your own struggle
- Identify the voices in your teenager’s life
- Plan for temptation
- Make accountability your teenager’s responsibility
- Be a good listener and a good observer
- Be willing to overlook minor offenses
- Always deal honestly with your own attitudes
- Expect, welcome, and respect differences
- Look for opportunities to put your teenager in the decision-making role
- Humbly admit your limits
Bottom line, stay focused on growing the character of Christ in both your teen and in you. It’s a win-win.
We do not want to settle for being fruit pickers when we can be root diggers. Lasting change in our teenagers always begins at the level of the heart.
Not just your child’s heart. Your heart, too.
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