Intentional Parenting: Autopilot is for Planes by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan

Intentional Parenting: Autopilot is for Planes by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan is a treatise on how to discover what to do as an outgrowth of parents’ relationships to God than simply instructing parents what to do.

Though the book focuses on the hearts of parents, it is not overly theoretical and abstract. The authors make a concerted effort to make the material practical with real stories and pointed questions throughout each chapter. What they have to say is well-worth reading, but their practical suggestions make it invaluable.

Intentional Parenting: Autopilot is for Planes
Intentional Parenting: Autopilot is for Planes

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. As I glance back over my highlighted sections, it is eye-opening to see how much these statements address me as a person as much as they do me as a parent. And that’s the authors’ goal. Who I am as a person will naturally and directly determine who I am as a parent.

I connected to two main principles: Being a Grown-Up Parent (Chapter 3) and Being a Spiritual Parent (Chapter 9). The authors make it clear that a child’s confidence comes in large part from seeing us be adults and act like parents. And their idea of being a “spiritual parent” is not following a list of “spiritual things” parents do, but rather modeling our personal dependance on God for our children to see, and thus know it’s important for their lives.

The book is written more with parents of adolescent children in mind, but is certainly helpful for parents with children of any age. I especially think it’s a helpful resource for those who might counsel parents. It would make a great resource to put in their hands.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

You Are the Shortest Distance

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

The shortest distance between children’s hearts and Christ is their parents (Deut. 6:6-9).

From the beginning of creation, God designed the world to operate through parents raising children, who then become parents who raise their children, etc. Modern societies spend countless hours and dollars attempting to transform current generations into upstanding citizens. Yet God’s design places them into the care of people who are relationally and emotionally in the best situation to protect them, teach them, and introduce them to Him.

  • They are blessed to listen to you pray thanksgiving for their food.
  • They are blessed to see you show affection to your spouse.
  • They are blessed to interrupt your quiet personal study of God’s Word.
  • They are blessed to notice your graceful and calm response to difficulties at work.
  • They are blessed to discuss perplexing spiritual questions while you’re in the car.
  • They are blessed to ask you about sensitive and embarrassing things they hear at school.
  • They are blessed to cry on your shoulder when you tell them about death, pain, and loss.
  • They are blessed to observe that your commitment to the Lord guides your every decision.
  • They are blessed to approach God’s throne while you tuck them into bed each night.
  • They are blessed to receive the discipline you lovingly provide.
  • They are blessed to hear your words of praise more often than words of correction.
  • They are blessed to witness your example of service to the Lord and others.
  • They are blessed not just to have someone. They are blessed to have you.

The ugly side of this blessing is that parents are also the shortest distance from their child’s heart to hypocrisy, apathy, resentment, and rebellion. Each day’s decisions are building something in their hearts. You have the opportunity to ensure what it is.

I Can’t Come Down

Nehemiah was used to facing criticism and taunting. His task to rebuild the walls and the city was great, but it was not popular with everyone. From the start, he and the Jews stared objections in the face and kept working, kept building (cf. Neh. 4:6)

Imagine when the detractors—foreigners from Samara and Arabia—play a new tune that sounds like peace? “Come, let us meet together,” they said (Neh. 6:2). What would you have done as the leader of this amazing effort of rebuilding? How would you have responded to the possible ‘repentance’ of your enemies?

Nehemiah exercised godly wisdom and knew they were still out to destroy the mission. He knew they wanted to ambush him. So he declines. Notice the brilliant answer,

“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3).

He could have been wrong about their evil plan to kill him; but Nehemiah asserts that even if they were truly offering peace, it wasn’t as important as the great work he and the people were doing on the wall. Nehemiah faced an important decision. But it was one he had already determined by priority.

Doing the Lord’s work will always invite detractors and doubters. A growing and thriving church faces more criticism than a stagnant one. Faithful families are questioned at every decision, as people look for the smallest inconsistency. If your focus is upon what’s right, people will always hurl distractions toward you.

And if you’re in the people-pleasing business, you’ll listen.

You’ll want to gain friends. You’ll want to scratch their backs so they’ll keep scratching yours. You never know when you’ll need their money, influence, or connections. Unfortunately, many people, homes, and churches make important decisions based on the happiness of the certain people. Unfortunately, many come down off their walls of purpose to answer the soothing sounds of pleasing everyone.

But God’s people, God’s homes, and God’s churches make decisions from unchanging principles in his word. They know that God and his people have had detractors from the beginning. They know that God loves every person, but has never violated his perfect character to please or silence his critics. They know they’ve been given a critical mission. They know they can’t come down.

Let’s commit to “staying on the wall” together. Our children, the church, and the Lord’s work are too important to “come down” to engage in the insignificant.



Weekend One Thing

I had a great day Saturday with Amanda. We went to the Pepper Place market in Birmingham & scored some green tomatoes, jalapenos, corn, peaches, plums, cheddar cheese, Gouda cheese, and some huge blackberries. We also fixed an awesome meal together: steaks with Gouda on top, fried green tomatoes with corn & jalapeno relish, corn on the cob, and peach ice cream with fresh peaches and fresh blackberry syrup.

Here’s the one thing I’ll remember from the weekend: nothing is more special (or important) for a husband and wife than spending time together–and to do so alone. Free Saturdays (or any other day of the week) come at a premium during the summer for Youth Ministers, so it was great to enjoy it with my best friend and closest companion.