Crissy and Brian Bontrager: Under God’s Umbrella

Under God’s Umbrella

Recently I sat in on the Parent Equipping class for 3 year olds. My children are currently 7 and 10; I was there simply to support my friend as she led the class. The topic of the class was  How to move beyond behavior modification to Godly Discipline. As the class began I realized I had become a little neglectful in the type of discipline I give my children. I was in need of a refresher in using God’s word and being consistent with discipline.

During the class the concept of The Circle of Blessing from the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart was shared. This concept comes from   Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV):

Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother –which is the first commandment—that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy a long life on the earth.

The Circle of Blessing is the idea that while obeying and honoring one’s parents, the child remains in the circle. The circle represents a place of safety and protection. However, if one steps out of the circle of blessing and chooses to disobey, the child is no longer in the safety of the circle.

This concept is not new for me. I have attended a couple Shepherding a Child’s Heart seminars, have read the book several times, and the first Bible verse my kids memorized was Ephesians 6:1. I realized during this class that as my children have gotten older I have stepped away from using this concept.  Discipline with my older son (age 10) has started taking on a different look; however, my younger son (age 7) can be a handful and I decided to reintroduce the Circle of Blessing into our family discipline strategy.

We talked about the Circle of Blessing as a family at dinner; I explained what it meant and even drew a picture, but my 7 year old just didn’t get it. So, I used the example of an umbrella. I asked him, “Why do we use an umbrella?” He replied with an eye roll, “So we don’t get wet in the rain.”  Then I asked, “What happens if we step out from under the umbrella?” He replied with another eye roll, “We get wet.” I then explained to him that the Circle of Blessing is like the umbrella: as long as we are under the umbrella (or inside the circle) we stay protected. The umbrella protects us from the rain while the Circle of Blessing protects us from the dangers of disobeying. Finally, he got it.

We have gotten back into the practice of reminding our children of the Circle of Blessing. I will often ask them this question: “Where do you want to be standing–in the rain or under God’s umbrella?” Discipline keeps our children safe and teaches them life lessons. The Circle of Blessing and living under God’s umbrella can help us teach our children the importance of obeying.

Parenting Resources:   Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp  Wise Words for Moms, by Ginger Plowman

Parenting Tip: With the coming of spring, use Crissy’s illustration as a family object lesson. Get a little wet together to bring home the idea as choosing to be under God’s umbrella.


  1. Crissy, I love this! I have had a very difficult time buying into Circle of Blessing. The concept is a bit abstract for even me, let alone for my two-year-old.

    But the umbrella gives children a concrete and familiar visual to better understand this concept. Thank you for sharing!