Timothy Z. Witmer. “The Shepherd Leader at Home” Crossway. 2012. $12.99 ($10.71 on Amazon) http://www.amazon.com/Shepherd-Leader-Home-Protecting-Providing/dp/1433530074/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420145253&sr=8-1&keywords=shepherd+leader+at+home
An Overview of “The Shepherd Leader at Home”
To begin on a personal note, it is rare to read a book that is written by an author that is considered to be a family friend and mentor. If the reader is looking for a well written and accessible book containing illustrations and wisdom for men who desire to be better men of God for their wives and children, then “The Shepherd Leader at Home” comes highly recommended. Dr. Witmer’s central thesis is that men are called to be “shepherd leaders” in their homes in the capacities of knowing, leading, protecting and providing for their families. The below review aims to briefly summarize Dr. Witmer’s book with the aim of commending it to every man who desires to shepherd his wife and children by God’s design.
Part One: The Shepherd Knows His Family
The first three chapters explain what is entailed in men knowing their wives and children. Dr. Witmer notes on page 31 that marriage is designed by God to be permanent, meet the needs for companionship, help in the tasks of life, relationship, intimacy, joy and functions to illustrate Christ and His church. In chapter two we see the following quote that emphasizes the priority of getting to know one’s wife: “This is an important way to express your love for your wife as you show her that being alone with her is a key priority of your life.” Dr. Witmer develops the idea of knowing one’s wife as foundational and thus leading to the important effort in knowing one’s children. The third chapter contains four necessary elements in exercising quality communication with your children:
- Look at the most effective way to interact with each child
- Commit yourself to building up your children with your words
- Remember, quality communication means being a good listener
- Finally, speak to the heart
Part Two: The Shepherd Leads His Family
Knowing one’s wife and children is crucial to how a man begins to understand their role as a shepherd in the home. The second part of Dr. Witmer’s book challenges men to lead their families. One of the most insightful illustrations on leadership itself appears in chapter four of the book. In the illustration he progressively introduces three boxes labeled from left to right: “followers”,” leader” and “goal”. He then sets a fourth box with the label “God” directly above the other three and has arrows leading from the bottom three boxes to the “God” box. Dr. Witmer’s point is that all the relationships between followers, leaders and goals must be directed toward and in relationship to God, who is the Creator and supplier of all three. This insight is then used in undergirding chapter five’s emphasis on leading the wife with unconditional love and the children by loving principles in chapter six.
Part Three: The Shepherd Provides for His Family
The third part of the book urges the man of God to shepherd his home by way of providing for his family both materially and spiritual. Dr. Witmer explains the material provision as the man of God exercising the attitudes of child-like dependence, thankfulness, generosity and dependence. Such attitudes are modeled and reinforced by the shepherding father to his children. In the sixth chapter we see the shepherding father and husband encouraged to lead his family by the scriptures. Dr. Witmer uses the four-fold function of scripture described in 2 Timothy 3:16 as the basis for such spiritual provision: teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. Dr. Witmer writes on page 116: “As the Lord renewed his covenant with Israel, he reminded parents that their responsibility was to convey their love and commitment to the Lord and His Word everywhere and all the time.”
Part Four: The Shepherd Protects His family
Thus far “The Shepherd Leader at Home” has unfolded three functions of the man of God who aims to shepherd his home as a knower, leader and provider for his wife and children. This final section of the book unfolds the fourth and final area of protecting the family through the drawing forth of boundaries. In chapter nine Dr. Witmer lays out boundaries for husbands to draw that can protect their marriages from unfaithfulness: namely determination to walk in the Lord’s way; rejoicing in one’s wife; immediate rejection of lustful thoughts; reliance upon the Great Shepherd and accountability. The final chapter of the book is devoted to drawing boundaries for the children. Dr. Witmer’s seven-step process for reacting to the inevitable crossing of boundaries by the children is invaluable:
- Ask the Lord for wisdom
- Be sure the line has been crossed
- Confront and clarify
- Deliver the promised consequences
- Explain additional consequences of action
- Forgive completely
- Graciously restore and move on
As Dr. Witmer closes out his book, he has an “afterword” that reminds men that they have less time than they think to directly impact their children before they become adults. Applying the principles of the “Shepherd Leader” must begin now if results are to bear forth fruit over the lifetime of the children and the duration of the marriage relationship. A very helpful appendix listing resources for family devotions is included to help men to know where to look in furthering their responsibilities as shepherd leaders.
As was noted above, this book is highly recommended and a must have for any husband and father wanting to shepherd their home by God’s design. It’s size (158 pages plus appendices), cost ($12.99 or $10.71 on Amazon) and readability makes “The Shepherd Leader at Home” a necessary resource for every husband and father.