Apparently there is something amiss today when it comes to marriages, the rearing of children, and family life in general. Divorce rates continue to be out of control, the youth seem to have gone wild, and families spend more time glued to their smartphone, laptop, or the latest tech fad than spending time together in what one could term as a family oriented setting. The problems with the family today begins at the top, specifically with husbands and fathers. Unfortunately, most husbands and fathers have neither been trained nor are willing to investigate what it means to be a godly leader of their family. Timothy Witmer in his excellent book The Shepherd Leader at Home provides salient insight into what it means for men to be the kind of leader God desires and quite frankly demands of them.
I have read quite a few books on the family, parenting, and manhood of late. As a father and a husband, I know the many shortfalls I have in this area of my life and thus have recognized the vast area of growth that needs to take place. Many of the books I have come across share a few nice thoughts on being a godly man, yet fall short of the needed practical application and the biblical truth needed for men today. Witmer’s book avoids those common authorial pitfalls as he spends his time rooted in the big four shall we say of what it means to be a godly husband and father – knowing, leading, protecting, and providing.
Throughout this book, Witmer engages those four important building blocks of relationships as he explores how to apply those principles in the area of being a husband and a father. I particularly appreciated his comments on communication, an area of marriage and parenting that many struggles with getting right, myself included. In order to communicate effectively to either your wife or children, especially when it comes to addressing their needs, you have to really know your spouse and kids. This involves understanding what makes them tick, being familiar with their personality, needs, and desires as well as those areas of their life for which they may be struggling. Witmer aptly states that “To grow in the knowledge of your wife requires your presence.” The same is true for your children. This means that leading from the couch is not an option.
Of additional note are the chapters Witmer provides on protecting your marriage and your children. The enemy has kicked things into full attack mode when it comes to marriages and child rearing. Everywhere we turn it seems there are pitfalls and traps being set to try and dismantle what God has joined together. The shepherd leader recognizes the battlefield and has a plan in place, one rooted in biblical truth. Witmer covers issues such as lust, pornography, and adultery, outlining for the reader how to remain faithful and to walk in holiness in this area of our lives.
He also addresses the important issue of discipline when it comes to childrearing. Kids need and crave boundaries whether they will admit it or not. The shepherd leader will be one who both guides and comforts the sheep in their family (i.e. wife and children). This involves discipline and instruction. As Witmer so rightly notes, “The goal of your instruction, therefore, is the development of character and godliness that flow from the knowledge of the Lord and his Word.” It is that last element of Witmer’s statement that should form the basis for the shepherd leader. The discipline and instruction of our children should flow from our own relationship with God and the discipline and instruction we receive from our Father in heaven. Witmer brilliantly drives home that importance point.
I highly recommend this book for every single father and husband. Witmer provides excellent insight, discussion, and most importantly sound application of the techniques and godly principles outlined in this book. Men need to step up to the important job of being the shepherd leader in their homes and this book will go a long way to helping men grow in this area of their lives. This book would make an excellent tool for a men’s small group curriculum as the discussion questions provided by Witmer at the end of each chapter are thought provoking and quite useful for group discussion and reflection.
This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.