I apologize for the voice dub on the above scene—it is the only video I could find. I also must mention that for the following illustration I am indebted to Dr. Timothy Paul Jones from SBTS.
“BOB, It’s time to engage!”
Voddie Baucham has written Family Shepherds to not only inspire men to engage and lead their families but also to give Christian men a resource to engage. This practical call for men to take up their God-given responsibilities to lead their families is meant to be an encouragement to men and a helpful resource for churches to use to equip husbands and fathers.
It has been my experience that most men in the church want to lead their families. The problem is that they either do not know how or lack the confidence to embark on this difficult and life-long labor.
I confess on behalf of men everywhere that we are quite often guilty of only playing the games we are good at. If we can dominate at baseball but can’t quite master ping pong you will see us on the baseball diamond far more often than swinging a paddle in our basement. The same goes with areas in our lives. Many men feel confident in their jobs, social clubs, or hiding behind the success of their sports teams. Few men feel confident as husbands, fathers, and spiritual leaders. As a result many men disengage.
Sadly, though many fathers compare their own parenting not according to Scripture but according to their own fathers treatment of them. Yet all across America families are being devastated by men that have “taken their ball and went home”. As Baucham there are…
“a myriad of families strewn across battlefields of broken homes, having been ravaged by passivity, ignorance, cowardice, and usurpation. They’re homes with fathers who have no earthly idea how to lead them, let alone the slightest inclination to shoulder the responsibility. What’s worse, many of these causalities of war are wearing medals and have trophies on their mantle that read, ‘For Merely Showing Up’! (19)
Men need to do far more than show up. Baucham hopes that Family Shepherds will not only inspire men to pursue more valuable trophies but also the book will equip men. Baucham’s desire is to help men “see their proper role and responsibility as a family shepherd” and then “give him the tools, motivation, confidence, and accountability he needs in order to step into that role and succeed.” (44)
The book is divided into five parts. The first part is a biblical exposition of the family and a passionate plea for men to see themselves as the family shepherd. The second part is meant to equip men to disciple their children by embracing their role as prophet and priest for their family. The third part rightly emphasizes the necessity of a family shepherd to have a healthy marriage. The fourth part deals with training and discipline by reminding dads that their goal is not to raise good little Pharisees but Jesus followers. The last section is a lifestyle evaluation where Baucham challenges men to consider their church membership, use of time, and dual citizenship. The book also has a short section meant to address the reality of fatherless families and then two short appendices: tools and a sample prayer gram.
Does it succeed?
One of my “projects” at FB Jasper is to develop, implement, and work out family-equipping ministry in our church. As such I am constantly looking for resources to not only inspire men to take up their God-given responsibility to be a family shepherd but also to equip men to fulfill that role. I was very excited to see that Family Shepherds claims to accomplish both of these aims. Does it?
If I ask the question of this book, “does it clearly define and inspire men to take up their God-given role of family shepherd” then the answer is a resounding yes. Baucham not only navigates controversial aspects (such as discipline and male headship) but he also inspires men to do what God has called them to do. I appreciate Baucham’s chapter on the necessity of a man putting his wife ahead of his children. I further appreciate his emphasis on the necessity of the local church. I would feel comfortable giving this book to any man that is wondering what his responsibility is as a husband and father.
If I ask the question of this book, “does it equip men to confidently fulfill their role as family shepherd” I would humbly and disappointedly say not quite. In my opinion the book does a good job of showing men what to do but it falls a little short in helping men actually figure out how to do it. Though Baucham rightly points out the necessity of men discipling their wives, there is little in the book to assist men in accomplishing this task. There is some practical help on catechizing, leading family worship, and disciplining children but as a whole the book does not seem to fulfill it’s promise to equip men as much as it does calling men.
The reader should also be aware of Baucham’s blunt style. He is known as a teacher that simply says things as they are without leaving much room for grey. There are times when this is necessary but some may be turned off by the way Baucham navigates controversial topics. If one is not already in agreement with Baucham’s basic presuppositions I am not sure he winningly makes his case to convince a skeptical reader of adopting his position.
I will save for a later date my distaste for the occasional shot that Baucham seems to take at those that do not fully embrace his family-driven faith model of church and family ministry.
Though the book has a few weak spots I would still recommend it. The book is an excellent source for calling men to become family shepherds. If it were to be used as a resource to inspire men to discover their God given roles with the occasional practical tip to live that out then this book is very helpful. If you try using it as the resource (and I’m not sure Baucham would even suggest that) for equipping men to be family shepherds you will probably be disappointed.
I am very grateful for Voddie Baucham and his ministry. This book inspired me and taught me in areas where I have been lax. I would encourage every man to at least give this book a quick look—and some may want to feast for awhile.
I received the book free from Crossway in exchange for a review. The review did not have to be positive. If you would like to purchase the book you can do so for under 10 bucks. Click here if you want to buy it.