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My childhood home was not perfect. Neither is the home I lead, nor any home I know of or have ever heard of. How good it is to know that perfection is not necessary – simply a desire, a plan, prayer, and a regular reliance on God to equip us with the grace and strength to be faithful. – Tad Thompson, Intentional Parenting

Thompson cover 364 px

A few weeks ago, I had about 6 hours to kill sitting in the Minneapolis airport with no free WiFi waiting to catch a flight home out of a snowstorm so I decided to dig into Intentional Parenting by Tad Thompson on my Kindle. I was not disappointed but was convicted and encouraged. Mr. Thompson is very straight to the point and is practical while not dwelling on methods or recipes. I even finished the book prior to boarding my flight home.

Some Key Points

Here a few key points that I drew from the book:

the goal of family discipleship is to raise children who treasure Jesus above all things.

1. Our goal as parents is to trust God to raise kids that treasure Him above all things. It is not to raise children who simply love me, or love themselves (as our society would lean). Our primary goal is also not to raise kids who are moral or successful. Moses hammers home his main points in Deuteronomy 6 on passing on our faith to our kids in the context of what verse? Deuteronomy 6:4-6:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6 ESV)

2. My kids will not treasure Jesus above all things if I do not. This was a huge encouragement to me as well as very convicting. I needed to hear this again. Am I really growing in my love for Jesus? Or am I falling into simple routine and habit, barely showing up in the morning to just check some boxes? Am I striving to impart this to my young children or just go through some spiritual motions with them? This is such a huge point that I need to hear over and over again. We can make parenting, as with life, so complex and get so overwhelmed but it really is that simple: treasure Jesus above all things and raise my kids to do the same. The details will come. Get that goal down first.

The greatest blessing you can give your children is to treasure Jesus above all things, even above them. Is this is a reality in your home? If it’s not, you can confess your sins to Christ. You can flee to him. He is your advocate.

3. Early on in parenting your young children and in discipline, a key sub goal is helping reveal to them a need for a Savior. Yes, you want them to obey but you know they won’t be perfect. Does that mean you lower the standard of obedience? No! My little ones do not need to be exasperated but they need to be directed to Jesus out of a sense of their own sin and need for a savior. Discipline of your children is not about punishment but about correction and helping them understand the gospel: that they are sinners who have no hope apart from the death of Jesus on the Cross, that God loves and delights in them and made a way for them to know Him personally.

Not Just Another Book on Parenting

As a father, it is so easy for me to get derailed and on the path of simply raising moral kids or kids that respect me. I need to read books like this. I need refreshment in these truths. Mr. Thompson is not wordy, not condemning nor enabling, but does such an excellent job of communicating the basics of parenting in light of gospel. I appreciate the grace he communicates and yet how he does not let me off the hook in my weaknesses. I have 5 kids ages 6 and under and I felt like the truths shared here were very accessible and relevant. I highly recommend it and it may be the first book I now recommend to new parents. Shepherding Your Child’s Heart is the classic in my church along with Premeditated Parenting and Romancing Your Child’s Heart (and Teach Them Diligently which my wife and I love) but I appreciated Intentional Parenting because of Mr. Thompson’s simplicity in applying the gospel to parenting.

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