Book Review: The Shepherd Leader at Home

Timothy Z. Witmer.  The Shepherd Leader at Home.  Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2012.  173 pp.  Reviewed by Paul Shirley, Pastor of Grace Community Church at Wilmington, DE.

Those familiar with Timothy Wirmer’s previous book, The Shepherd Leader, will be very interested to delve into his latest title, The Shepherd Leader at Home.  The earlier dealt with what he described as a shepherding crisis in the church.  As the title indicates, The Shepherd Leader at Home deals with what he diagnosis as a shepherding crisis in the home.  In his words,

This book could well begin with the words, “There is a crisis in the family.”  Many of the problems in the church, and in society at large, for that matter, can be traced to a growing number of families that are like sheep without a shepherd. (11)

This crisis is having a devastating impact on our culture, as well as our churches.  The traditional family unit has been undermined through various cultural attacks, leaving many homes in a vulnerable position. Witmer’s aim in this book is to equip men to deal with this crisis.  This is the primary audience of the book, the men who are responsible to lead their families.  Or to put it another way, every man who has a family.

The Shepherd Leader at Home is a practical starting point for men to start taking their role as the shepherd of the home seriously.  At times Witmer could have honed in more directly on biblical passages and principles needed for this task.  However, there are certain foundational principles that were implicit in Witmer’s conclusions.  In other words, almost without exception Witmer got the equation right he just didn’t always show his work (which is how I alway got in trouble in algebra).

Witmer structures the book around four principles and then fleshes out these principles in a practical manner.  Each section begins with a principle necessary to be an effective shepherd leader at home followed by chapters on shepherding a wife and shepherding children.  Based on the chapter divisions and contents of the individual chapter the book could be outlined as follows:

Section1: The Shepherd Knows His Family

  1. An Introduction to Knowing Your Family
    1. Marriage is designed to meet the need for companionship
    2. Marriage is designed to provide help in the tasks of life
    3. Marriage is designed to be the primary human relationship
    4. Marriage is designed to be permanent
    5. Marriage is designed to be the most intimate human relationship
    6. Marriage is designed to be a source of great joy
    7. Marriage is designed to reflect the relationship between Christ and His Church
  2. The Shepherd Knows His Wife
    1. Knowing your wife and the principle of presence
    2. Knowing your wife and the practice of partnership
    3. Knowing your wife and the practice of quality communication
      1. you must understand the relationship between truth and trust
      2. keep in mind that people come to marriage with different communication styles
      3. commit yourself to building up your wife with your words
      4. remember that quality communication means being a good listener
      5. speak to the heart
  3. The Shepherd Knows His Children
    1. Knowing your children and the principle of presence
    2. Knowing your children requires quantity of time (including one-on-one)
    3. Knowing your children and the practice of participation
    4. Knowing your children and the practice of quality communication
      1. look for the most effective way to interact with each child
      2. commit yourself to building up your children with your words
      3. remember that quality communication means being a good listener
      4. speak to the heart

Section 2: The Shepherd Leads His Family

  1. An Introduction to Leading your Family
  2. The Shepherd Leads His Wife
    1. The Dignity of Women
    2. The Wife’s Role in Marriage: Submitting Partner
    3. The Husband’s Role: Loving Leader
    4. How to Have a Frustrated WIfe
    5. Why are these roles so hard to fulfill?
  3. The Shepherd Leads His Children
    1. Lead according to principle
    2. Lead by example
    3. Lead them to seek wise counsel

Section 3: The Shepherd Provides for His Family

  1. Material Provision
    1. Childlike dependence on God
    2. Thankfulness
    3. Generosity
    4. Contentment
    5. Material provision and work
  2. Spiritual Provision
    1. The source of spiritual provision
    2. The content of spiritual provision
    3. The goal of spiritual provision
    4. The means of spiritual provision
      1. be realistic
      2. be systematic
      3. be flexible
      4. be consistent
      5. be interactive
      6. be real

Section 4: The Shepherd Protects His Family

  1. Protecting your marriage
    1. The temptation of marital unfaithfulness
    2. The consequences of marital unfaithfulness
      1. unfaithfulness brings regret and shame
      2. unfaithfulness brings the just anger of others
      3. unfaithfulness results in discipline
      4. unfaithfulness may result in the dissolution of your marriage
    3. Preventing marital unfaithfulness
      1. determine to walk in the Lord’s way
      2. rejoice in the wife God has given to you
      3. reject lustful thoughts immediately
      4. rely on your Shepherd
      5. partner with others
  2. Protecting your children
    1. Proactive Protection: Making the boundaries clear
      1. the importance of boundaries
      2. setting boundaries
      3. children should understand boundaries
      4. children should understand the consequences of crossing boundaries
    2. Reactive Protection: What to do when a boundary is crossed
      1. ask the lord for wisdom
      2. be sure the line has been crossed
      3. confront and clarify
      4. deliver the promised consequences
      5. explain additional consequences of the action
      6. forgive completely
      7. graciously restore and move on
      8. protecting, not provoking
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