Timothy Z. Witmer, The Shepherd Leader At Home. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. 173 pp. $12.99
You as their earthly dad are laying the foundation for their relationship with their heavenly Father. You are their first exposure to a relationship of authority in the world (49).
There is much written on parenting and on how to raise a family. Each book has principles that say to do this, don’t do that and many times one contradicts the other from book to book. In a world where the value of the family seems lost and disintegrated, where is a father to go to know how to lead their home in a God-honoring manner? A fantastic place to start would be in reading Timothy Witmer’s The Shepherd Leader at Home.
Witmer is best known for his prior book The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church but he felt this necessity to take the principles in his prior work and focus them on the fathers in the church to help them know just how to shepherd their homes in a Godly way. The data out there on the disintegration of the family and on the continued adolescents of men shows that this is absolutely true.
The Shepherd Leader at Home is divided up into four sections that will point a father in how to best shepherd his family. The four sections are The Shepherd Knows His Family, The Shepherd Leads His Family, The Shepherd Provides for His Family, and The Shepherd Protects His Family. Each of the sections is divided into corresponding chapters that focus on how the husband is to Know, Lead, Protect and Provide for either their wife and kids.
A Christ-centered husband and father will point in all that he does towards their heavenly Father and a relationship with Him. Witmer shows throughout the importance of being fully present as a husband and as a father. How you interact with your wife will be noticed by your kids and replicated. How you love your wife and focus on her as your first love will be modeled by your kids. When was the last time as a husband you asked your wife, “How are we doing?” (38). Also, how you interact with your kids and lead them will be noted. It’s important that you know your kids so you can know how to effectively shepherd them. If you don’t know them you can’t lead and shepherd them well. These actions early on in a marriage and as parents help to set up the priority of the family. “Investing time together now not only pays the dividends of a lifetime of shared adventures and memories, but also sets in hearts and minds the priority of family” (44).
You must model Godly conflict resolution, Godly discipline, Godly presence, Godly care for your kids in a way that shows them that God loves them and He has set you in their lives to protect, guide, love and shepherd them towards His glory. Your ultimate goal as a parent is not to help them be happy or successful (though we want this) but instead to help them to know the Lord and walk with Him to bring Him glory (54). How you shepherd and parent your kids today matters. Remember, “we are all just one generation away from unbelief.” It is your responsibility as the shepherd of your kids and your home to point them towards Christ in all that you do, and to remember that you are their first interaction with a loving God and are laying the foundations for a relationship with Him. Take this seriously.
As a brand new father of a 1 month old son, I would highly recommend every Christ-following father reads this book. This book is practical and gives biblical examples and ways to shepherd your home as a God-honoring husband and father in a time when that is no longer normal or pursued. The Shepherd Leader at Home has helped me to already establish habits with my son in his first 31 days that we will continue to practice in the years and decades ahead. With so much written on how to parent and what methods to use, skip them all and go right to Scripture and allow The Shepherd Leader at Home to point you towards it. Check out The Shepherd Leader at Home.
This is an honest review written in exchange of a review copy of The Shepherd Leader at Home from Crossway publications.