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Parenting the Heart

elizabeth-george parenting-the-heart

Our behavior is heart driven. There­fore, correction, discipline and training, every aspect of parenting, must be addressed to the heart. The fundamental task of parenting is shepherding the hearts of your children. Author Tedd Tripp says it best:

“…parenting is concerned with shepherding the heart. You must learn to work back from the behavior you see to the heart, exposing heart issues for your children. In short, you must learn to engage them, not just reprove them. Help them see the ways that they are trying to slake [satisfy] their soul’s thirst with that which cannot satisfy. You must help your kids gain a clear focus on the cross of Christ.”

Our children are blessings given to us by God and their hearts are your stewardship from God. He expects you to do your part in raising them to know and love Him. The good news is He has given you all you need in Him to accomplish his purposes. The heart is the best place to start!

The prophet Samuel spoke for God when he rebuked Saul for failing to obey God’s specific instructions (1 Samuel 13). Over and over again as reported in 1 Samuel, Saul overstepped the bounds God set for him. On several occasions he specifically disobeyed God. Although he was very careful to offer prescribed sacrifices to Him, Saul failed to offer God the ultimate sacrifice—obedience from a heart wholly devoted to Him (1 Samuel 15:22).

Finally, after one extremely serious act of disobedience, God sent Samuel to Saul with a twofold message: “Your kingdom shall not continue” and “The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

God was communicating something along this order—”Saul, you’re through as king. I’ve put up with your rebellious, unresponsive heart long enough, and now I’ve found just the right man to serve Me. This man who will take your place is a man with a responsive heart, a man with a heart of obedience, a man who will follow all My commands, fulfill all My desires, and do all My will.”

This is where we witness two very different kinds of hearts—the heart of David and the heart of Saul.

  • David served God while Saul served himself and did things his way.
  • David was concerned with following God’s will, but Saul cared solely for his own will.
  • David’s heart was centered on God, and Saul’s was centered on Saul.
  • Even though David didn’t always obey God, he had what mattered over the long haul—a heart after God. In sharp contrast, Saul’s devotion to God was impulsive and sporadic.

David was a man’s man, well-known for his physical prowess and might as a warrior. Still, he was humbly dependent upon God, trusting in Him and repeatedly acknowledging, “The Lord is the strength of my life” (Psalm 27:1). Saul, on the other hand, was proud. He relied on his own skill, his own wisdom and judgment, and his arm of flesh.

God gave both of these kings opportunities to lead Israel, but in the end they walked down different paths—Saul away from God and David toward Him.

How’s your heart? The heart God delights in is compliant, cooperative, and responsive to Him and His commands.

When you train your children, be sure to look to their heart for insight into the behavior. Pray and ask God to reveal their hearts to you so that you can parent them better. And don’t forget that being a good role model is Godly parenting at its finest.


Jesus, I love you with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength. Write your commandments upon my heart and the hearts of my children. Impress them on my family. Remind me to talk about them when I sit at home and when I walk along the road, when I lie down and when I get up. Amen.


One Minute with the Men of the Bible by Jim George

In One Minute With the Men of the Bible by Jim George, you can start or end your day with powerful one-minute reminders of how God can work in your life—as seen through and in the lives of men in the Bible. You'll find encouragement for your own faith journey as you meet Abraham, Jonathan, David, and many others. Through these examples and more, you'll learn how God will stand with, help, and provide for you—and you'll grow more and more aware of His amazing love for you.


How’s your heart? The heart God delights in is compliant, cooperative, and responsive to Him and His commands.


God gave both of these kings opportunities to lead Israel, but in the end they walked down different paths—Saul away from God and David toward Him.

Jim and Elizabeth George

Jim and Elizabeth George are bestselling authors and national speakers dedicated to helping people live a life after God’s own heart. Together, they have written over 150 books with more than 14 million copies sold around the world. For over 35 years, the teachings and steadfast example of Elizabeth and Jim have helped countless men and women:

  • Simplify life by focusing on God’s priorities.
  • Appreciate God’s Word and apply it to everyday situations.
  • Respond to circumstances with confidence by seeing yourself through God’s loving eyes.
  • Increase closeness in marriage by serving and honoring each other.
  • Powerfully shape the hearts of children and teenagers.
  • Enjoy greater intimacy with God.

Learn more about Jim and Elizabeth George here.

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