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March 03, 2008


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Michelle Brock

Thanks for these thoughts and encouragement. One problem specifically addressing the "me-first world view" is that resolving a fight between two me-first children results in one me-first child getting what he wants (often). Sometimes, I can deny both children (like when they are arguing about a toy), but often, somebody has to go first. I'd be interested in thinking through a biblical response for receiving-- maybe thankfulness?

The second challenge is weighing the advantages of requiring unselfishness, or simply encouraging and rewarding it.

I recognize the need for me to be entrenched in God's Word. But talking about God in every possible circumstance, as you say, seems unrealistic. Are you saying our language should reflect God's Word and ways (If my mind is filled with Scripture, my words will also), or are you saying we should be constantly referring back to Scripture (e.g., "The Bible says....)?

Don Fields

Any good recommendations on teaching our children about finances and stewardship? I found one co-authored by Larry Burkett that was helpful, but I wasn't completely satisfied.

Jay Younts

Michelle, thank you for these questions. Deuteronomy 6 is calling parents to look beyond the issue or as you put it, the fight, of the moment. With the busy lives that we lead life often seems to be a blurring of disputes, issues, appointments, meals and schedule conflicts. The scope that Deuteronomy 6 addresses in the four situations listed in verse 7 is meant to inclusive in nature but not exhaustive. In other words not every sentence is supposed to start with a Scripture quote. But as Deuteronomy 6:6 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” That is the commandments of God are to be woven into our inner person. This is equivalent to what Paul says to the Colossians – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom… This is a great verse for parenting that is often overlooked. Tedd Tripp says that this is an important way that we can keep the gospel central in our parenting. So when a mother comes upon a situation where two children are in a dispute, she should want to do more than just determine which child has the position of the “legal” high ground.

In the situation you give in your question there are larger issues at stake than which child gets what he wants. The gospel calls for a radically different worldview than the child’s natural self-centered one. Both children should be looking to serve and honor the other one first. (Matthew 7:12) In a gospel-centered worldview one child getting what he wants is not the goal. Suppose one child does take a toy unfairly from his sibling. The child who has been wronged immediately and mournfully sounds the alarm that his rights have been violated. His natural worldview has two goals. One is the immediate return of his toy. The second is to see justice carried out upon his selfish sibling. Neither of these goals is acceptable in a gospel-centered worldview. In God’s reality, both of these children are being selfish. Both children need attention. There are no winners and losers in this scenario from a gospel worldview perspective. As a mother in this situation you want both children to see how their behaviors indicate a heart-attitude of self-centeredness. If both children see that Christ is calling them to be focused on serving the other then this dispute takes on the much larger dimension of addressing the heart attitudes.

So your language as a mother reflects the glory of God in your life as you challenge your children to love their siblings even when they are unlovable. Is this a big job? Certainly it is. It is a job that a parent cannot hope to accomplish apart from the grace of God shinning through her heart at the moment a dispute breaks out. This is why the parent must first have a Godward orientation of his heart before he can see in the lives of his children.

Let me know if this response is helpful to you or if you have more questions. Thanks again for asking these great questions.

Berta Myers

It is great to find this resource. I will check this frequently.

I agree with your comments about self gratification but would add that starting with toddlers may be almost too late with some children. The really bright ones seem to have it all pretty much figured out before they are a year old, and then making changes takes a LOT of effort.
A question we have about this deals with where to find the balance that seems implied in Scripture. We always ponder about the virgins that are commended for not sharing their oil--it seems like they should have given their oil to the less fortunate, as opposed to having "looking out for number one attitude" or something like that. I know you all probably explained that Scripture before and I have forgotten...it is amazing all that I forget...but the issue comes up on practical terms all the time. One of the kids has an acquaintance that is hard for her to deal with. THe acquaintance is a little crude and rough, which she finds hard to take at points. We pray for the girl and seek to be building a framework such that she might ask about the Lord. I suggested the other day that the kids call her to go to the gym with them, since she likes to work out. My daughter replied that when she goes to the Y, she likes to work out hard, and this girl doesn't want to work out as hard. The attitude was that she needed to work out hard to keep her fitness level up and that was more important than relating with the woman in question. Issues like these emerge frequently--do you have any suggestions for guidelines so that they can be dealt with more biblically?

Jay Younts

Don, good to hear from you again. Finances are an integral part of any world view discussion. The direction of Deuteronomy 6 makes a tight connection with finances and stewardship. As you daily live before your children you have a wonderful opportunity to build these topics into their lives and worl dview. Finances can easily dominate our thinking and our words when we sit down to dinner, go to the store, go to bed and when we wake up. These are the times when you most powerfully teach your children about finances and stewardship. Here is an example. How practical is Psalm 23:1 in your daily life?

The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.

One of the most practical components is biblical stewardship is contentment. The Apostle Paul echoes David’s words in Phil. 4:11 when he says he has learned to be content in all circumstances. Paul’s words are the expression of one who takes comfort that God is his Shepherd. Our children know whether or not we, as parents, are people who are content, who take comfort that the Lord is our Shepherd, even if things are difficult financially. So, this is where to start with stewardship and children. How do your children see you responding to financial pressures along the road of life?

As your children grow older, you can talk with them about why you make the financial choices that you do in greater detail. For younger children taking comfort in God’s shepherding care is an important lesson to learn. If a parent is constantly saying things like, I just wish we could afford a nicer car or if only we had just a little more money we could… an attitude of contentment will be lacking. The particular methodology of stewardship is not as important as contentment with the shepherding care of God.

Let me know if this addresses your concerns.
Thanks again for taking time to raise an issue that is on the minds of many parents.

Don Fields


The resource deals with ownership, stewardship, contentment, giving, generosity, etc. So you are right on with the importance of those biblical mandates. And we are teaching them.

I'm always on the lookout for resources for myself and for others that give them some specific guidance and help on parenting. Burket's does that, but there is a hint of psychology and some other integrationist leanings, so I was hoping for a more nouthetic resource.

Jay Younts

Don, I am not aware of anything that fits your description but I will check out some resources and get back to you in a few days.


Hmmm. I think my problem is that I am like a big toddler, so when my kids start fighting over who gets the cookie, I (albeit with finesse) find that I am frustrated by the fact that I have been interrupted from my own agenda and now have to deal with "their" selfishness. Yuck. It isn't comforting to read someone's comment to say that it may be "too late" if you're just dealing with selfish world view when they are toddlers. Any thoughts?


We are struggling with the matter ourselves right now.

The biggest issue we see is the definition of "worldview". We have found that most of the materials available for worldview education seem to think that it involves making our kids into the leaders of their generation. That if we just instill the right worldview, they will rise and change the world. Many people seem to have mixed up "having a biblical worldview" and "being a Christian force in the world".

This is, of course, hooey. A biblical worldview requires servanthood. Teaching our children that they must be leaders will be a disservice to a child who is called to be a mother, or a remote missionary.

The confusion is that we are being taught that a biblical worldview and the selfish "be in charge" instinct of the toddler are the same thing.

Jay Younts

It is never "too late" to honor God and to see him bless in your parenting. You have made an insightful comparison. We do struggle with the same things that our children do! This is a strong message to give to your children. When they are selfish you are able to say that "Mommy struggles with selfishness also". God chooses to bless us in our weakness. Recognizing that we are all often like "big toddlers" is a great way to state the issue. As a parent you don't want to bring your children to where you are, but you want to point then to the same place that you are headed - the cross! Shepherd Press has several books that should be of help. If you don't have them already, I would recommend Don't Make me Count to Three, Everyday Talk, Shepherding a Child's Heart and Instructing a Child's heart.

Let me know a couple of specific examples that you want to discuss and I'll try to give you some specific feed back.

Thank you for stopping by. Your honest reactions I am sure touch a cord with our readers.


Jay Younts

"Mr. Pages",

I could not agree more with your assessment of worldview. We don't know whether our kids will be recognized leaders or not. But we do know that God wants them to honor him in his world. This perspective starts with humility. If I am faithful in little... Joseph's trust in God in prison prepared him to trust God before Pharaoh. If your children's worldview is biblical at home then they are prepared for whatever role God may have for them. The faithful service of many Christians is never noticed by the news media. But this service is noticed by the One who matters most.

Melissa Post

I realize i am just reading these comments and its April 14, so i hope you still reply. I have read your book Shepherding a Childs heart and loved it. I find that the concepts of pointing our children to the gospel, teaching them about authority and praying after discipline are so biblical. I definitely can implement this style as my children grow. My question is for now, I have an almost two year old and when i discipline for wrongful behavior, it seems like she doesn't have the attention span or ability to "take in" the explanations of scripture and God-centeredness. I understand this is do to her fallen nature, but what about actual development in understanding the scriptures. Is there any advice you would give on modifying (not watering-down) actual actions taken and words spoken for everyday misbehavior moments. Thanks, Melissa

Jay Younts

Melissa, thanks for commenting. Tedd Tripp actually has an article that directly your question on the main page of our website. Your focus with your almost two year should be to be direct and brief. This first stage of childrearing is too clearly establish that God is control of his world and we are directly accountable to him. The time for "detailed explanations" comes later. Take a look at Tedd's article and get back to me.

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Guide to Family Worship