Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes

Kids are work. As a dad, I’m responsible for their futures. So I need help in that area. 

Enter Voddie T. Baucham Jr.’s book Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes. I swear the subtitles are as long as the books these days.

Faith isn’t genetic. It’s taught and it’s up to the person to catch it. Voddie goes into that. 

The Old Testament offers a lot in the how.

“Paul acknowledges Timothy’s home discipleship pedigree (2 Tim. 1:4–5; 3:15), insists that a track record of effective discipleship in the home is an important qualification for ministry in the church (1 Tim. 3:4–5), and calls fathers specifically to raise their children in the faith (Eph. 6:4; see also Col. 3:20–21). 

Alfred Edersheim recognizes this clear pattern among God’s people in the New Testament era: Although they were undoubtedly . . . without many of the opportunities which we enjoy, there was one sweet practice of family religion, going beyond the prescribed prayers, which enabled them to teach their children from tenderest years to intertwine the Word of God with their daily devotion and daily life.

Admittedly, there aren’t many passages in the New Testament devoted to family discipleship. However, one reason for this is that the New Testament writers already assumed the Old Testament in this regard. The clearest link in the New Testament to the family discipleship pattern of the Old Testament is Ephesians 6:1–4: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Here Paul quotes the fifth commandment (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16), then echoes the teaching of Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 6:7; 11:19; Psalm 78:4; and Proverbs 22:6 in establishing a pattern of discipleship in the Christian home. Clearly, Paul did not view the Old Testament teaching on family discipleship to be obsolete.”

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How do you make a Christian disciple? My kids minding their Ps and Qs isn’t it.

“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. 

Moreover, as members of a local body, we’re striving to do this work in conjunction with other families who are doing the same. The result is a synergistic thrust designed to propel our children (collectively) into the next generation of kingdom service—and all this is done in utter dependence upon God’s grace to do the work. 

So we must consider the picture Paul paints in Titus from a much broader perspective than that of our own family in isolation; we must view ourselves as part of something vastly greater.” 

“An examination of the first two chapters in Titus reveals a pattern I call the “three-legged stool” of discipleship. These three supports are (1) godly, mature men and women in the church; (2) godly, manly pastors and elders; and (3) biblically functioning homes.”

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Titus is an excellent short book to read. 

“If we’re going to see a generation of young men rise to the occasion and begin to disciple their families, it will be due in large part to the reestablishment of the biblical paradigm of mature believers pouring their lives into younger Christians, and demonstrating godliness and maturity to them by their daily lives.”

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FirstNLR is good at that. Seasoned citizens hang out with the teenagers, learning the slang and how to flip bottles. Who am I kidding? No one knows what the slang is anymore.

 Our lead pastor spends Wednesday nights with the students. Both sexes are involved.

What qualifies a person as godly?

“Part of Paul’s teaching on this is from the perspective of what a godly man is : “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain” (Titus 1:7). Paul then moves on to the affirmative, and lists what an elder should be: “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined” (Titus 1:8–9). Far from being a list of esoteric requirements attained only by men who take vows of poverty or silence or celibacy, this is the stuff all godly Christians are made of.”

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Voddie warns of just letting the church handle their kids’ discipleship. Pastor Rod told the congregation if they don’t make church a priority, don’t be surprised when their kids don’t. 

It’s more caught than taught, and we’re their primary influence. 

The book is laid out in four sections: Family Evangelism and Discipleship, Marriage Enrichment, Child Training, and Lifestyle Evaluation.

“Our goal in the first section of this process is to equip and strengthen men in the basics of family evangelism and discipleship. Stated most simply, we want men to understand the gospel and be able to communicate it at home. 

Here we emphasize family worship, catechism, personal evangelism, and apologetics as foundational tools necessary to do the work of making much of Christ at home. We also emphasize the importance of taking the message to our neighbors and extended family through the ministry of hospitality.” 

“When the Joneses first understand and adopt an emphasis on family discipleship, any weaknesses in their marriage that may have gone unaddressed or unnoticed will likely come to the surface. Men who have neglected their responsibilities as their family’s priest, prophet, provider, and protector will often experience pushback from their wives when they suddenly stand up to lead. 

It’s therefore important that we help men understand what biblical leadership in the home looks like and how to exercise it in a Christ-honoring manner. Every man is a leader in his home and marriage. He may have been a poor leader, but he’s a leader nonetheless. As a result, a man who has led his wife poorly will encounter the fruit of that bad leadership when he first makes an effort to lead her well.”

“Parents like the Joneses have usually spent very little time with their children. In many cases, the children have spent the lion’s share of their weekdays in daycare and then school, and a big part of their Sundays in nursery, then children’s church, then youth ministry. 

Therefore many parents simply don’t know what their children’s spiritual needs are, let alone how to deal with them. Family shepherding thrusts parents into an environment where they’re forced to change. The result can be something I call Vacation Syndrome. 

Vacation Syndrome is similar to that major meltdown many families experience after the euphoria of the last day of school has worn off. Children who before were gone all day are now in close contact every day with one another and their parents, and eventually sparks will fly. By summer’s end they’re all at each other’s throats, and Mom and Dad can’t wait for school to start back again. 

But what happens if this change is permanent? What happens when you make a decision that will put you in close contact with no relief in sight? Suddenly those issues that are often swept under the rug have to be dealt with. Parents now actually have to discipline their children; they have to train them. This section comes with a warning and a promise. 

The warning: be prepared to see yourself and your children in a whole new (not-so-attractive) light. The promise: it’s better to see, know, and address the sin than to pass the buck and fail to engage and disciple your children.”

“Perhaps the most challenging aspect of our family shepherds overhaul is this last section, where we tackle lifestyle evaluation. Here we’ll challenge men to ask hard questions that are rarely asked. Then we do the unthinkable—we take the next step and encourage men to actually answer those tough questions. 

They’re questions like these: Do you watch too much television? Is your family spread too thin as you run back and forth from soccer to ballet to tennis to piano to whatever else happens to be going on? Is your mortgage too big? Are you carrying too much debt? 

These questions are rarely asked, let alone answered. However, when men decide that it’s time for them to engage in shepherding their families, they often come to a point of crisis where they realize they simply don’t have time and resources; adjustments must be made; something has to give. 

Unfortunately, that something tends to be the spiritual commitment that started the process. Men need help to avoid that all-too-likely scenario. Lifestyle evaluation is a painful yet necessary process. In fact, you could say that this entire book is one big lifestyle evaluation. If you’re a father and family shepherd, you must evaluate your lifestyle in each of these four areas with a view toward bringing your life into conformity with that which God requires of you. Your love for the Lord, your belief in the gospel, and your pity for your family should compel you to take honest inventory and lay yourself bare before the Lord, knowing that he alone can give you what you need to bear fruit in these areas.”

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There is a ton of material, and I encourage you to get the book. However, I will focus on the section on catechizing the kids. It is an intriguing concept.

“Catechism is simply a pedagogical method employing questions and answers to teach a set body of knowledge. It’s explained in the following terms by Zacharias Ursinus, the primary author of the Heidelberg Catechism: The system of catechizing . . . includes a short, simple, and plain exposition and rehearsal of the Christian doctrine, deduced from the writings of the prophets and apostles, and arranged in the form of questions and answers, adapted to the capacity and comprehension of the ignorant and unlearned; or it is a brief summary of the doctrine of the prophets and apostles, communicated orally to such as are unlearned, which they again are required to repeat.

Ultimately, catechism is a means of teaching Christian doctrine in a concise, repetitive manner. As Martin Luther wrote, “In the catechism, we have a very exact, direct, and short way to the whole Christian religion.” 

“Take, for example, A Catechism for Boys and Girls, which we use in our church to teach young children. Here are the first ten questions and answers:

1. Q. Who made you?

A. God made me (Gen. 1:26–27; 2:7; Eccles. 12:1; Acts 17:24–29). 

2. Q. What else did God make?

A. God made all things (Genesis 1, especially vv. 1, 31; Acts 14:15; Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:16). 

3. Q. Why did God make you and all things?

A. For his own glory (Ps. 19:1; Jer. 9:23–24; Rev. 4:11). 

4. Q. How can you glorify God?

A. By loving him and doing what he commands (Eccles. 12:13; Mark 12:29–31; John 15:8–10; 1 Cor. 10:31). 

5. Q. Why ought you to glorify God?

A. Because he made me and takes care of me (Rom. 11:36; Rev. 4:11). 

6. Q. Are there more Gods than one?

A. There is only one God (Deut. 6:4; Jer. 10:10; Mark 12:29; Acts 17:22–31). 

7. Q. In how many persons does this one God exist?

A. In three persons (Matt. 3:16–17; John 5:23; 10:30; 14:9–10; 15:26; 16:13–15; 1 John 5:20; 2 John 9; Rev. 1:4–5). 

8. Q. Who are they?

A. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2; Jude 20–21). 

9. Q. Who is God?

A. God is a Spirit, and does not have a body like men (John 4:24; 2 Cor. 3:17; 1 Tim. 1:17). 

10. Q. Where is God?

A. God is everywhere (Ps. 139:7–12; Jer. 23:23–24; Acts 17:27–28). 

Keep in mind that these questions are for two-year-olds. This isn’t rocket science; these are rudimentary statements. However, they get to the heart of what we believe about the nature of God (the Trinity), the nature of man (a created being), and the purpose of creation (the glory of God), to name just a few.”

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That book is free on Kindle. I just got it. 

“In addition to theological literacy, catechism is also beneficial as an apologetics tool. Apologetics is a discipline rooted in Peter’s admonition to be “always prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). Thus, apologetics involves (1) fully grasping what you believe (being “always prepared”), (2) knowing why you believe it (“a reason for the hope that is in you”), and (3) being able to communicate this to others effectively (“make a defense”). What better way to prepare a Christian to answer questions about his or her theological beliefs than by teaching those beliefs through a series of questions and answers? Catechism serves thus as a pivotal apologetics tool.”

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There is a depressing amount of theological illiteracy going on. 

The book is packed with info, and I’m going to stop now. If I went through the remaining 70%, we’d have an 8,000-word post.

If you’re a parent, you’d be doing a disservice to yourself to skip this book.

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