Purposed Parent/Connected Child Podcast Episode 018 - Shaping the Heart
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Purposed Parent/Connected Child Podcast
Episode #018 – Shaping the Heart
Are you yearning for greater connection with your child? Would you like to parent beyond the moment with eternal perspective? Let’s grow together now with practical tips, scripture, and stories geared to draw your heart to Jesus and guide your child into His arms.
When we brought our youngest child home from China, it took so many months for her to fully adjust. Days were a combination of multiple steps backwards and one or two forward. Some days we seemed to simply exist, learning more about each other and taking no forward gains or losses as we lived. Trust came slowly and was very hard-earned. Although from our perspective, we loved her before we went to get her, from her viewpoint, this new life change was basically a kidnapping. Being told to leave with complete strangers, our daughter had to gather enormous courage to come with us and forge a brand new identity and life in another country, learn a new language, eat new foods, experience new sounds, smells, and clothing, and undergo many medical tests, procedures, and surgeries.
Although my girls got along from the beginning, it was almost too smooth. They never fought, probably because communication was difficult. There were moments of deep frustration, but they never lashed out at each other or caused harm or hardship to one another. Now that my youngest has been with us for seven years, their relationship has changed and grown, but they still maintain a beautiful respect for each other. Over time, our youngest has seen consistent love and attention, and is now able to discuss those days with hindsight and insight accumulated over the years.
Now that my two girls have a history of shared parenting and family events, stories, laughter, and grief they have bonded through, they are able to communicate and share together.
Much as they have shaped their hearts for sisterhood, we must shape the heart of our children for recognition of God’s truths and commands.
In chapter four of the book of Genesis, we learn about siblings, Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. Unfortunately, due to a hardened heart and jealousy, which brought out his sinful nature, Cain eventually murdered his younger brother, Abel.
Genesis 4:1-8 says, “Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”
This story of Cain and Abel is reflective of the choices our children have in their approach to and relationship with God. Your child may have a heart like Abel that respects our Heavenly Father and offers the finest they have to give. Or your child could have a heart like Cain that isn’t devoted to God, and prompts them to offer as little to God as they think they can escape with. What signs do you see? Does your child get angry when you or someone else in authority corrects or disciplines him or her? Does he or she ignore your repeated requests to make good choices?
Reaction to correction and circumstances exposes whether a heart is haughty or humble.
As mothers, it is our duty to recognize and react to the responses we receive from our children. Ignoring a retort or refusal to complete a required task may be easier in the moment, but God calls us to a standard of excellence when shaping the heart of each child. Hard work or confrontation is rarely convenient or easy. One important fact I believe mothers should memorize is that we must look beyond the behavior to the root cause. Most of the time reactions are not about us, but stem from something that has taken root in the heart of our child.
Parenting is about shaping the heart, not simply erasing wrong behavior.
It’s often tempting for mothers to want to get away from behavior that causes embarrassment or hardship, but it is the time we need to step away from how it is making us feel and try to pinpoint what pain is causing our child to react as they are. We can’t simply discipline without teaching the moral reasons the behavior exhibited was wrong or sinful.
Correction without connection and God’s moral compass will collapse.
Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Since behavior is determined by the heart, we must intentionally shepherd the heart in advance. When conflict arises, we must parent behaviors by directing attention back to the heart, which drives future conduct and attitude. When we help our child realize, understand, and linktheir disposition and desires to sinfulness and teach them how the sin in their hearts guides actions, true and lasting change begins.
If discipline is made without drawing attention to the heart issues behind the behaviors, both parent and child miss the deeper effects that prompt connection with the parent, child, and our Heavenly Father. To achieve heart change, we have to confront what is happening within the heart and direct them to God’s word and humble relationship with Him.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Your children will be attracted to or repelled by the God they have come to know through you. Without God’s word to guide them, your children discern right and wrong from watching your actions.
We must study God’s Word in order to know it, teach it, and recognize when we are being misled by false doctrine. We must love God and His word so much that it attracts our children to learn it for themselves.
Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
God’s wisdom is required for the unique child He created and is entrusting you to influence for Him.
When you place your walk with Christ at the top of your priorities, He will graciously guide you in how to reach your child if you ask for His wisdom and insight. Allow Him to carry you each day. Be specific about what you desire Him to allow you to see and how to parent specific actions or characteristics of your child.
Is life perfect because we are believers? No. It never will be in this sinful world. But we are able to place priorities in the order God requires and we value what God deems as good. As our children see these qualities and characteristics within us being lived consistently, as we discuss issues with them and make observations through daily life, drawing our children back to God’s word and values as their compass and guide, their character is changed through Christ, as well.
Just as Jesus came to save and serve, we must look beyond self and allow Christ to work within us to affect the present and future of our children. If we look at each day with the eternal perspective of Christ, looking ahead to what His word tells us He desires and what God considers important, we are more easily able to keep our mind focused and become more like the image of Christ each day. The best parenting takes place when we reside in the Father’s hands.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
If you would like me to go into greater detail about shepherding the heart, please notify me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to make future podcasts about this topic.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Your love for us. Thank you for the gift of motherhood. Through the trials, hardships, triumphs, and joys, we long to trust in You. Please craft our hearts to seek You first and allow Your work within us so that You can pour through us to reach the children You have entrusted to us. Help us to seek You when we are frustrated, afraid, lonely, or confused. Help us to confide in You and seek Your approval and guidance. Please remove the selfishness and sinfulness within each of us and our children and replace it with Your humility and hope. Help us to love our children with the pure love You have for them and see them with Your eternal-focused mind and heart. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Thank you for listening to the Purposed Parent/Connected Child podcast. Both of my podcasts may be found at terrihitt.com, iHeart Radio, Spotify, and are also part of the Spark Media Network. Both podcasts may also now be found on the Edifi app, where you can hear thousands of the best Christian podcasts in one place for your listening enjoyment.
If you find value in what you hear through my podcasts, and you would like more information on the topic we discussed today, I invite you to listen to previous episodes. I suggest listening to the Purposed Parent/Connected Child podcast episode 2, “Mentor God’s Heart.” You may easily find this episode at terrihitt.com. Just click on “podcasts” and type in the topic or title you wish to hear about in the search bar at the top of the page.
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Remember, if we are not purposed in knowing Jesus ourselves and showing Him to the next generation, the world will direct them away from Christ. Live With Eternal Perspective helps us to find, trust, and follow Christ more intimately. Purposed Parent/Connected Child shares biblical, practical truths for parents and grandparents to influence and mentor Christ over culture.
I pray that what you hear on this podcast draws you nearer to God and helps you cling to Him, despite any circumstances in your life. Until next week, keep looking Up while focusing on new ways to Live With Eternal Perspective.