I actually read this book about a year ago, drafted this review, and then let it sit on the shelf for a while. I’m currently reading John Rosemond’s excellent book Parenting by the Book which shares some themes with Family Shepherds. I want to thank my own “family shepherd,” my dad, who both passed along this book and who wonderfully modeled how to lead a family.
Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes, as the subtitle says, is about “calling and equipping men to lead their homes.” The book is a sort of follow-up to Family Driven Faith, a book which gave me a paradigm shift in how to think about church and family. In Family Shepherds Baucham looks at four responsibilities of leadership in the home: evangelism and discipleship, marriage enrichment, training and discipline, and lifestyle evaluation.
Family Shepherds is a call to men to teach their children the Word of God, to make marriage a priority, to lovingly train and discipline their children, and to evaluate their own lives.
Family Shepherds is written from a Southern Baptist perspective, which is not surprising since Baucham is a Southern Baptist minister. Since I grew up in such a church, I was pretty on board with Baucham’s underlying theology. There were a few areas where I would have appreciated a slightly more nuanced argument (with a little less blunt force). For instance, in discussing corrective discipline in chapter 12, Baucham spends a lot of time defending spanking, so much so that it appears that he advocates it as the method for corrective discipline. I think it would have been better (and more correct) if he had done more to demonstrate that it is a permissible form of corrective discipline in some instances and left it there. I strongly prefer the approach of John Rosemond in Parenting by the Book. Rosemond argues that “the rod” in Proverbs should be understood as a metaphor for what he calls “leadership discipline.” Rosemond doesn’t argue against spanking but he does argue that, when it comes to discipline, leadership is more important than method. Rosemond states “Effective discipline is conveyed not by methods, spanking or otherwise, but through effective communication of instructions and expectations – through leadership.” (Parenting by the Book, 221)
Despite this critique, the call to men to take up the responsibility of spiritual leadership in their homes is an important message, both for families and for the church and Family Shepherds is such a call. The book is not nearly as paradigm-shifting as Family Drive Faith, though. Also, some chapters of the book appear a bit disconnected from his overall thesis. It feels a bit like a series of disconnected essays, or more likely sermons, and later stitched together.
If you haven’t read Family Drive Faith, read that first. If you have, this book is a good complementary guide. It fleshes out a few areas (like marriage enrichment and discipline) that Baucham didn’t address in Family Driven Faith. If you’re a husband or a father, please consider God’s call to be a spiritual leader in your home. Your family needs it. The Church needs it. Our world needs it.
For what I think is a more superior book on parenting, check out Parenting by the Book by John Rosemond.