Last week I read through Voddie Baucham’s book Family Shepherds. Like his other books (Family Driven Faith and What He Must Be…If He wants to Marry my Daughter), it was a fast read but packed a lot into it.
There are not a lot of books out there that actually call men to be men in a biblical way. It either comes off as calling men to continue to abdicate their God given role and be weak, or to continue to abuse that role through sin. Most books about what God calls men and women to be spend most of their time saying, “This is what submission and leadership are not” but then never really say what it is. On top of this, most men and women who follow Jesus genuinely want to know what the Bible calls them to be. Most men want to lead their families, they are just not sure how.
If that’s you, Voddie Baucham’s books are a great place to start, particularly this one. The book is broken up into 4 parts: what the Bible calls husbands and fathers (family shepherds is what he calls them) to be, how to disciple your wife and kids, building a foundation in your marriage, and then how to evaluate your life and pace to fulfill what God has called you to.
What is a family shepherd? Baucham said he uses the term for a number of reasons, “It reminds me of the goal of my work. I’m shepherding my children toward Christ. My goal is not to raise children who conform to my hopes, wishes, dreams, or standards; my goal is to raise children who walk in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).”
Overall, the book was incredibly helpful for me. While some parts are things he has written on in other places, I especially found the chapters on family worship and discipline to be helpful. Katie and I have been talking through how you parent with the gospel instead of moralism (stop doing this, do that). The chapters on discipline were helpful in this way.
One of the other things that I learned was how important prioritizing your marriage over your children is. While I know this, have preached on it, Baucham added a reason I never thought of. I’ve said his first 2 reasons in sermons before: your kids will leave one day so they can’t be the foundation of your marriage and prioritizing your marriage over your kids brings security to your kids lives. The third reason he gave was important to me, when he pointed out that as parents you are training your kids to be married. While I knew this, it is easy to forget that I am teaching my kids through my marriage to be married.
Here are a few other things that jumped out:
- Discipling our children is not about teaching them to behave in a way that won’t embarrass us. We’re working toward something much more important than that. We’re actually raising our children with a view toward leading them to trust and to follow Christ.
- We must not present the gospel to our children as though it were a fairy tale. They must know that these are truths worthy to be believed. These things are verifiable; they really happened. Moreover, because they really happened, their implications are inescapable.
- We must know the difference between what the gospel requires and what the gospel produces.
- Family shepherds must see the spiritual leadership of their families as their God-given duty. This is not a program! This is the responsibility God has laid at the doorstep of every man who carries the title father. Those who neglect the spiritual welfare of their families are therefore derelict in their duties in the same way a hired hand would be if he were caught sleeping on the job.
- A seismic shift is represented by changing the focus from one that says, “I’m a lawyer, and that defines the way my family is shaped,” to one that says, “My wife and I entered a covenant relationship designed to bring forth, train, and launch a generation of godly offspring, and that’s going to direct all the rest of my decisions.” This isn’t to say men should slack off at work. It is, however, to say that they should not slack off at home (something we almost never hear). This is a radical change of perspective.
- There are at least 3 reasons that make prioritizing our children over our marriage both foolish and dangerous. First, our children will eventually leave home – and if they’re the foundation of our family, then their departure will mean our family’s demise. Second, our marriage forms the cornerstone of our children’s security. Finally, one of our primary goals is to prepare our children for marriage.
- The greatest source of security our children have in this world is a God-honoring, Christ-centered marriage between their parents.
Here is an interview Voddie did about the book.
I highly recommend this book to men who are looking for ways to lead their families or are unsure about how to do it.