Interview with Paul Tripp, Part 1

No, I did not have the privilege of interviewing Paul Tripp myself, but have really benefited from listening/watching the interview that Desiring God Ministries did recently.  I want to share the highlights with you (that applied to me in this season of life with small children) with the hope that it will edify you!

If you haven’t heard the “Tripp” name, I would highly recommend familiarizing yourself with it. Paul and Tedd Tripp (yep! brothers) have written wonderfully helpful books full of Godly wisdom on the topics of parenting and marriage.  Paul himself has written a total of 11 books to date.  He is a pastor at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA.   He has been married for 38 years and has four grown children.  What I deeply appreciate about him is his desire is to unite the transforming power of Jesus to everyday life.  All of our life is worship, isn’t it?

Now, on to the interview.  Today, we’ll focus on the first half of the interview in which he speaks about parenting.  Tomorrow, we’ll cover the second half on marriage.  Stay tuned, because it was awesome!

A little biographical information about Paul Tripp to get us started…He  began by sharing that he came to Christ at eight years old, having grown up in a troubled home.  He described it as believing home, but one with much turmoil in which he was unsure of his father’s heart before the Lord.  His mother encouraged him to go to seminary and afterward he went to a small church in which he did a lot of counseling.  This later became the passion of his ministry.

When asked why he writes books, he responded that he feels it’s good stewardship of the gifts God has given him.  He wanted to write everyday life books so that people would see that “the Gospel is the world’s best diagnostic.”  He thought if he could place Jesus in the “middle of the mess”, he would be used of God to help people love Jesus more and have greater confidence in the Word of God.  That’s what he’s after.  To enhance people’s desire to find satisfaction in Jesus Christ.  The gospel is where he remains.  He says he does not have anything to offer, any wisdom of his own.  The gospel is what he comes back to again and again.

One of the questions asked led him to talk about what he believes godliness is and what the purpose of it is.  His response was,

“Jesus didn’t just die for my past or die for my future, but for my here and now.  It speaks into the harshest most difficult realities of the here and now.  Jesus has ALREADY given us everything we need for life and godliness.  What is godliness?  God-honoring choices, responses, actions, words for the specific place where God in His Sovreignty has placed me.  The godliness is not obstructed by reality, it’s given for reality.”

Some of his statements were profound.  I appreciate him making it a point to say that godliness is for the purpose of reality.  I’ve been accused of being too “practical.”  This saddened me, not only because of my pride, but because reality is, that  in our roles as wives and mothers, it is full of “the practical.”  We should worship in those practical things.  Doing the dishes, changing diapers, doing laundry again. These can and should be done in such a way so as to bring joy to the heart of God!

He went on to talk about our role to trust God for change in the hearts of our children.  This was most helpful to me!  While I might not be able to articulate it at the time, sometimes my actions and words have the motivation to bring about change behind them.

“A child needs firm, loving, discipline, authority, and grace.  We live in a world of authority, I need to image the authority of the Lord.  Grace is important.  There is a tendency for parents, in their appropriate concern for their children to ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish.  A parent by the enforcement of the law, by the tone of your voice, by the force of your personality, if you could change the heart of your child, Jesus never would have had to come!  My job is to act appropriately toward my child so that they will desire to transact with God, but I can’t do that transaction and I don’t know when the winds of the Spirit will blow.  I am free from saving change in my responsibility.  Godliness is my responsibility.  You can have the best woods, nails, tools.  Put them in the best field, and they will never build a house.  A carpenter will build the house.  I believe in God’s Truth, the power of Grace, the Wisdom of Scripture, the call to love and I will keep doing that everyday.  Not based on my track record, size of problem, based on His grace.”

A listener asked, “Should I ever withhold grace if I ever perceive that a child is taking advantage of me?”  He responded by saying that he is very thankful that Jesus doesn’t withhold grace from us and went on to say that he is aware of two kids of grace:

“First, relief and release.  “In mercy, I lift the person’s burden.”   But, then, there is one that is uncomfortable.  “I understand you need to face some of the consequences of your choices.  I’m not doing that punitively; because I’m mad at you or am going to s ting you.”  The model in Hebrews is that He disciplines us in order to produce a harvest of righteousness.  It is restorative.  We can’t, by the sting of the law, produce heart change.  That is a different gospel, it doesn’t work.”

Someone else sent a question asking his perspective about disicpline.  His response after referencing Proverbs 22:15,

“A young child is not fully able to understand the consequences of his foolishness.  Foolishness is dangerous because it’s God-denying….danger lurking in the heart of this child.  The foolishness of sin.  But, because he’s of limited experience, he doesn’t have the ability to grasp the ability of his foolishness.  The act of foolishness is met with a restrained, godly, careful painful response.  So that the child concludes, “When I do foolish things, bad things happen.  He begins to be concerned about the foolishness inside of him so that he will seek after wisdom he can only find in God.  To do heart-delivering discipline, you have to begin with your own heart.”

When asked by a listener what to do with guilt that he/she faces in parenting and also the joy that is lacking, his response was:

“God always uses broken instruments.”  (He still considers himself a bit of a mess, daily rescued by God’s grace.)  “He has this powerful ability to take flawed people and to use them as instruments of His grace.  He will never call you to a task that he will not enable you to do.  There is grace for all of those realities.  It’s better for a parent to say, “This is way beyond me, I need grace.”  You do what God’s called you to do, not because of your track record or the size of what you are facing, but because of God says He is and the promises of Christ. I get up in the morning not because I see fruit, but because I see He is faithful and believe His Word is true.  Every day is full of new challenges, the world is a broken place, these are sinner children, there is spiritual warfare.”

These were the highlights from the parenting section of the interview.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes, in the middle of it all, I need to be reminded of Truth.  This interview served to remind me of what the “main thing” is in my goal of parenting!  I’d encourage you to listen to the interview while doing some chores around the house if you can.  It’s worth your time!

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