LIMA — Tickets are now on sale for the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Parenting Conference which will be hosted by Grace Community Church Sept. 19 and 20. The conference will feature retired pastor, speaker and author of “Shepherding a Child’s Heart,” Dr. Tedd Tripp.
Written in 1995 as part of his doctoral thesis, Tripp’s book has sold more than a million copies in English and has been translated into 30 different languages.
Tripp, who has three adult children, never anticipated this overwhelming response to his book.
“When I wrote the book,” he said, “nobody would publish it. The church leaders encouraged me to publish a few thousand copies, so we set up a small publishing company and published 5,000 copies.”
Tripp was shocked when all 5,000 copies sold pre-publication.
“It took off in ways I could have never imagined,” he said. “I think the homeschooling movement got a hold of the book and shared it as a resource. That wasn’t our original intention, but it worked out.”
Very quickly Tripp found himself being asked to speak. As the head pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Tripp found himself having to reshape his entire ministry.
“We set up the ministry out of the church,” he said. “I spoke on Fridays and Saturdays, and then was back on Sunday to preach and teach. I gave all the honorariums I received to the church and that enabled us to hire more staff so I could travel and do the seminars.”
Tripp did an average of 20 seminars a year for the next 17 years. Two years ago, he retired and found his ministry shifting again.
“We set up Shepherding the Heart Ministries,” he said. “God has blessed us with the health and strength, and we are in a season where we don’t have home responsibilities. It gives us a unique opportunity to carry our message.”
Tripp and his wife Margy spend about half their time away from home, doing up to 25 seminars around the country each year, plus three trips abroad.
“We just returned from Mozambique in Africa,” Tripp said. “We’ll be headed to Brazil in September and to India in October. When we are home, we like to spend as much time as we can with our children and grandchildren. They all live close by.”
The popularity of “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” is attributable to its unique message. Instead of focusing on managing a child’s behavior, a common focus in parenting books and magazines, Tripp focuses on nurturing a child’s heart.
“The focus of a lot of parenting advice seems to focus on getting the child to do what you want them to do,” Tripp said. “What a lot of it was missing was the nurturing. The Bible tells that out of the heart is the wellspring of life. All behavior is heart driven. There are things going on inside that drive the child’s behavior.”
Tripp explained that by only focusing on managing behavior, parents can miss the motivations that push and pull the behavior in the first place.
“Shepherding the heart means looking beyond managing behavior,” Tripp said. “It is understanding the child and helping the child understand himself.”
Tripp also added that when parents only focus on behavior they can fall into bribing, threatening or even shaming their child.
“Shepherding a child’s heart focuses on internal controls,” he said. “It is helping the child learn to identify and respond to temptations.”
Tripp feels that parenting this way opens up a great avenue to talk to children about their need for God in their own lives.
“We are all flawed people,” he said. “Christ died for us though, so that through Christ I can find grace to overcome those temptations. That enables me to love, to be humble, to be self-giving.”
Though his principles have remained consistent, over almost two decades, Tripp has seen parenting challenges change.
“Monitoring the culture, things like the internet and gaming, is a much bigger challenge than when I raised my own three children,” he said. “I end up spending time during my seminars helping parents to set up guidelines because there is an addictive quality to a lot of this stuff.”
Beside too much technology too soon without enough guidelines, Tripp said the other big mistake he sees is in parents’ own attitudes.
“They make the mistake of having a contest of wills with their kids,” he said. “It becomes very negative as in ‘I’ll show you.’ That’s very destructive in a parent-child relationship.”
Tripp, when he comes to Lima, hopes parents leave with a key principle.
“I would hope they would go home,” he said, “with the fact that parenting is not about managing children’s behavior but in nurturing children’s hearts.”
What: Shepherding a Child’s Heart Parenting Conference with Dr. Tedd Tripp
When: 7 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 8:30 a.m. to noon Sept. 20
Where: Grace Community Church, 4359 Allentown Road, Lima
Tickets are $25 each or $35 for couples. Child care is available for the first 70 children ages 8 and younger for $5 per child per day. Children ages 9 to 12 are invited to participate in their own Bible curriculum on Saturday for $10. To register for tickets, visit www.gcclima.com.