Shepherding Your Family Toward God
About the Guest
Shepherds aren't just found in fields. You can also find them in the home, watching and caring for the families that have been entrusted to them. Pastor Voddie Baucham encourages men to step up and embrace their responsibility as the family shepherd. Baucham explains a shepherd's weighty role to move his family towards God, all the while being wholly committed to His purposes, and to model godly character before his children.
Shepherds aren’t just found in fields. You can also find them in the home.
Shepherding Your Family Toward God
Bob: Voddie Baucham says there is a connection between playing the game of golf and leading your family spiritually. Imagine, for a minute, that you like the game of golf and you want to do well at it. You just need some help. Here’s Voddie.
Voddie: That guy doesn’t go out there and say, “You know what? I’m horrible at golf. I’m not going to do this anymore.” He goes out and he gets a coach. He gets some new clubs made. He gets videos and everything else because he refuses to fail. What I hear from men is that, “I’m either going to succeed at this immediately,” or, “I’m not going to do it.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, June 4th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. In golf, you want your scores to be under par. In leading your family spiritually, you want to be above par; right? We’ll talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know what I hope is going to happen with today’s program?
Dennis: No. What, Bob?
Bob: I hope that men, who are listening to our program today, as a result of what they hear, will do a better job of shepherding their family than I did of shepherding mine. I think most people would look and say, “Well you did a good job.” I think my kids would say, “You did a good job.” I look back and go, “I could have done a lot better than I did.”
I could make all kinds of excuses about why I didn’t, but I’m hoping today we just take away some of the excuses and give men some handles on how they can do the kind of job God is calling them to do.
Dennis: Bob, I have a couple to add to that. I hope that men are encouraged by what they hear today. They’re not going to feel beat up, but they are going to feel somebody’s arm come around them. It’s a strong arm. It will kind of hug them tight and let them know, “Let’s go. We can do this thing;” but it will encourage them to truly step up and be the men God called them to be.
And I hope their wives get a picture of how they can help their husbands be that man. And the strong arm—well, the ultimate strong arm is God’s, Who really wraps His arm around us and calls us up—but the one you’re about to feel reach through the radio is—
Bob: —is Strong Arm.
Dennis: It is Strong Arm. I’m looking at him, and they’re not weak. I shook his hand earlier, and you’d respond to this strong arm here. Voddie Baucham joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, Voddie.
Voddie: Hey, thank you for having me. It is always a joy. I really appreciate this ministry, and I thank you for giving me an opportunity to come back again and talk about this subject.
Dennis: Well, we’re all over this subject. It’s kind of like—Bob and I ran into each other in the hall, here in the office the other day; and he said, “Now don’t forget. Voddie is coming in.” I said, “I don’t need to ask you what he’s going to be talking about. You know, you slit his wrists and he hemorrhages this message.”
In case you don’t know who Voddie is, he is the pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. That’s a suburb of Houston. He’s a speaker, an author of a number of books, husband and a father, and he’s just finished a brand-new book called Family Shepherd. It’s all about encouraging men to really step up and embrace their responsibility as a family shepherd.
You don’t know this, Voddie; but a number of years ago, at the Weekend to Remember®, we used to have a session for the men that was entitled “Dad, the Family Shepherd”.
Dennis: Yes, and it was a lot like what you’ve got in your book. It was a one-hour session with the men, calling them to be God’s men as the priests and prophets of their family.
Dennis: Explain to our listeners really what your heart is as you’ve put it between two covers here.
Voddie: My heart is to see men understand the significance of their role. I think when men understand from a biblical, theological perspective the significance of their role, why they’ve been placed in that role, why it is that the Creator of the universe puts them in a position and then calls us by His title, father—I think when we grasp that, we come to a place where we can sometimes go to despair because it is overwhelming; and it’s beyond us.
But what I want is for men to go—not toward despair—but I want them to go toward a sense of awe and a sense of dependence upon God, and a sense of committing themselves to this work that is, I believe, the most significant thing that they’re going to do.
Bob: You had a sense of the weightiness of the responsibility of being a family shepherd when you were in the delivery room as your wife gave birth to your first daughter. I mention that because I don’t think I did. When we had a child, I remember thinking that my primary responsibility with our kids was to have a good relationship with them.
I hadn’t had much of a connection with my dad. He’d been there, but disconnected. So my goal was, “I’m going to love my kids. They’re going to know they’re loved. We’re going to have fun together. We’re going to have a good relationship; and if I do that, I’ve won as a dad.”
You understood there’s more to it than that, and you understood it early on; didn’t you?
Voddie: I did, and I was terrified because I had not seen that in my life. I was raised by a single, teenage, Buddhist mother. I was raised in drug-infested, gang-infested, south central Los Angeles, California, where I didn’t have friends, even, who had fathers in their homes. Even in my family, my cousins and other members of our family didn’t have fathers in their homes.
So when I realized, at that moment, that I was a father and that I hadn’t seen that before, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of that responsibility and by the fact that I didn’t have any tools in the toolbox to know what to do about it.
Dennis: You, undoubtedly, even though you felt it initially, you undoubtedly, as you entered into the process, the weightiness of this responsibility grew. I mean, I don’t think any man when they place that baby in your arms can begin to fathom all the spiritual battles that will be around that child’s life, in attempting to protect them from evil, to guide them in the way of God, to teach them the truth about Him, to teach them how to experience grace when they fail, and what He teaches you through that child about your own selfishness—
Dennis: —and your own brokenness. If you had to summarize for men, though, right now, what it means to be a family shepherd, how would you, in just a brief paragraph, describe this awesome role of family shepherd?
Voddie: You know, your family exists for a purpose. God created the family for a purpose, and it is to bring glory and honor to Himself and to His Son. We don’t just get there by accident. Our families have to be led there—hence, the term, “shepherd”. And so we’re not just shepherding our families arbitrarily.
We’re shepherding our families towards this greater reality of Christ and this beautiful relationship with His church, toward the triune God and the relationship within the context of the Godhead, and toward this glorious end when all things are summed up in Christ at His return; and there is this wonderful thing—this wedding feast, if you will.
Once we understand that, I think we get what it means to be a shepherd—that we are guiding our families toward this Gospel-centered, God-centered perspective on what it means to be here and serve Him.
Bob: And we can’t guide them in that direction unless that’s the fundamental core and direction of our own lives. We’ve got to be pursuing that, as men, first before we can be leading anybody that direction.
Voddie: The shepherd’s got to know where the green grass is.
Bob: Right. But it’s also not sufficient to say, “Well, I’m going to model it; but I’m just never going to say much about it.”
Voddie: No, because then you leave the door open for any means that your children think is appropriate to get where you are. And if they don’t know how—you know, we talk often about the indicatives and the imperatives in Scripture—and if you don’t understand the indicatives—who we are in Christ, what God has done in Christ—and all you have is the imperatives—then you just use whatever means you believe in in order to get there. Usually, that turns to works righteousness, and that’s the last place that we want our children to go.
Dennis: If you don’t teach your children the truth about life and about God from the Scriptures, the world will teach them a lie. That’s guaranteed. That’s what’s happening today. That’s why we’re on this broadcast, talking about this, because, I think, we’re losing a generation of families that does not realize the sacred nature of the truth of this Book—because it guides us into the correct knowledge of Who God is.
I want to go back to what you just said, though, about not modeling what you’re teaching. Share with our listeners a time when you didn’t. It’s always easy to share the great illustrations of Voddie Baucham—the great spiritual leader who led devotions and all of his kids were just around the table, dutifully nodding their heads. They weren’t flipping peas across the table at each other, or throwing things at each other, or sliding down on their seat, underneath the table, like our kids did.
Voddie: So you’ve been at my house, then. [Laughter]
Dennis: But seriously, share a time when you were convicted you weren’t modeling what you were teaching.
Voddie: Boy! That happens to me daily! I mean, I always realize—for example, and I think that maybe the thing that sticks out in my head is when I’m coming to a child, and I’m rebuking a child, and I’m angry! I’m rebuking that child in anger for them not being loving to their sibling. [Laughter] And I know nobody has ever done that before; okay?
Dennis: No. No.
Voddie: But I’ve caught myself, on a number of occasions. Sometimes, it’s a sort of knowing glance from my wife—just doing the exact opposite of what I’m instructing that child to do—and just sort of catching myself—and having to go back and repent to God and before that child because of that terrible example that I’m setting, even in the process of trying to correct them and train them.
Dennis: Well, it’s a good thing we’re not in a group confession here because we could easily go around the rest of the table. You got me on that one. I was actually thinking about an event that occurred. You may not know this about FamilyLife, Voddie; but a number of years ago, we made a statement that what was needed in America was a family reformation.
The first reformation came around the return to the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel. The second reformation needs to also be around the Gospel; but it also needs to be around the truth of God’s Word and what it says about marriage and about family, about what it means to be a husband and a father, a wife and a mother, and a return to the truth of the Scriptures that we bear the responsibility to pass on the truth about God and the truth about what Christ came to do and redeem us from our sins to our kids.
It’s first, and foremost, the responsibility of parents to make that introduction and to introduce their kids to Christ; right?
Voddie: Yes. It’s interesting that you say that—talking about a reformation in the family. We had the reformation in the 16th century—a reformation reclaiming the Gospel. We need to have this other reformation, where we’re reclaiming these truths as they apply to the family.
But here’s what’s interesting—if you want to find the best and the most plentiful literature on a biblical understanding—Gospel-centered understanding of the family—you’ve got to go back to the reformers—
Dennis: I knew where you were going on that. Yes.
Voddie: —because they didn’t miss that. That was part and parcel of the reformation.
Dennis: The men were the instructors.
Voddie: Absolutely. Absolutely. It was non-negotiable.
Bob: And you look at men today—and again, I think a lot of us—there’s a heart to want to be more involved dads, to be more engaged; but there’s also a pretty blank screen in terms of what this family shepherding is supposed to look like.
Dennis describes this typical pea-shooting family devotional, around the table. Guys do that once or twice and go, “I am failing at this.” I have found that if guys are failing at a sport, they pick up a different sport and just go play that. Most guys don’t feel like they’re winning at home when it comes to spiritual formation in the lives of their kids.
Voddie: You know, they really don’t. I think what’s even worse than that is they don’t feel like it’s important. They really—if you look at other things in men’s lives—look at how many guys go out and play golf, and they’re horrible at it. Okay?
Dennis: Now watch it.
Voddie: And they go out regularly.
Dennis: Have you seen my golf game? Tell the truth.
Voddie: I have not. I have not. But again, other guys go out and they’re horrible at golf. What I find is that guy doesn’t go out there and say, “You know what? I’m horrible at golf. I’m not going to do this anymore.” He goes out and he gets a coach. He gets some new clubs made. He gets videos and everything else because he refuses to fail.
What I hear from men is that they don’t have a passion for their responsibility and their duty as family shepherds in their homes. That’s why, unlike the golf game, they won’t endure. It’s, “I’m either going to succeed at this immediately,” or, “I’m not going to do it.”
Dennis: One of the problems and, I think, reasons why men aren’t pursuing this is we’re not putting those men up—those dads who are doing this—we’re not setting them up publicly and talking about what it is they are—what they’re doing, who they’re being, and what their intentionality is all about. What are they left to look at? What’s on the tube in the evenings? Most of the men in the evenings are idiots or nonexistent.
And so, as men, there’s not much in our lives—if the church doesn’t call men up and show them what it looks like, and what a spiritual man is and what a spiritual man does, there’s not much in our lives to encourage that to happen—let alone formation—spiritual formation in my life, as a man, to do that.
Voddie: Yes. The great irony, of course, is that, biblically, that’s part of a pastor’s job. If you look at First Timothy 3 and Titus, Chapter 1, you see that pastors are to be chosen, based upon their performance in this area—to lead their homes well, to shepherd their homes well, to raise their children well. The pastor is supposed to model that before the flock, as Peter says.
But how many times, nowadays, do we call a pastor without ever talking to him about his family, let alone visiting his family and examining whether or not he’s doing family discipleship? We don’t even have a category for the pastor and shepherd being qualified, based on his role as a pastor and shepherd in his home.
So we sit here and say we don’t have those models, but the Bible makes it clear that there is supposed to be a non-negotiable model of that everywhere you call a man an elder. It goes beyond just our culture dropping the ball. It goes to the heart of us not understanding the essence of the church—what the church is supposed to be, leaders in the church, and how those leaders are qualified.
Dennis: There’s no question that what you’re talking about here is the truth. Let’s say there’s a guy listening right now, or maybe his wife, and they’re both thinking, “You know, that’s what he’d like to be;” “That’s who I’d like to be. Where, in the world, do I begin because my church is not geared to spiritual formation in a man so that he can be God’s husband and a godly father?” Where should he start? What would you instruct him to do, just in terms of stepping out and engaging the process?
Voddie: Well, one of the things, you know, and I talk about this in the book, is that there is this picture in Titus—for example, Titus 1 and Titus 2—there is this picture of this sort of three-pronged approach to discipleship. You have godly older men and women in the church—that’s a place for us to turn—a man to look to godly men who have done this and are doing this.
The second place is godly elders in the church—godly, manly elders in the church who are modeling this. That’s what we’re to be looking for; and again, most people when they’re looking for a church, all they’re concerned about is if they like the music. They don’t even consider this, but that’s a whole other story.
And then the third one is biblically-functioning homes. All of these things work synergistically together. God does not leave the man in a vacuum. He doesn’t leave the man isolated. The church is there as the pillar and ground of the truth, and the church is there as the place to which we can and must turn if we want to see these things.
Bob: You know, we did something recently at our church. We took a Sunday night and invited everybody to come over and have pizza. Then we got some of the elders and their wives to come up and do a panel. We did this over two evenings. The first evening was a group of elders and their wives. They were to answer this question, “If I knew then what I know now, what would I have done differently about marriage?”
The second question is, “If I knew then what I know now about parenting, what would I have done?” It wasn’t so much, “Here are all of the ways where I won.” It is, “Boy, I wish I’d known this,” because all of us get to a point, as parents, where we look back and go, “Boy, if I could do it again, I’d do better than I did the first time.”
Part of what you’re saying is, “It’s the responsibility of the older men and the older women to tell the younger men and the younger women, ‘Look, I messed up here,’ or maybe, ‘This worked out for us.’” Pass that along so that these guys know what to do.
Voddie: And quite frankly, that’s why I wrote the book. I mean, we sit there and we think, “Oh, if I had it to do all over again,” “Oh, if somebody had only told me this,”
“If somebody had only told me that.” How dare I have that “aha” moment and not turn around and help the next guy down the chain? That’s part of what motivated this whole process.
Dennis: What I hear you saying are just a couple of key takeaways here to that man who desires to do what you’re talking about but doesn’t feel competent. Decide to regularly go near an older, more mature man. Here is what I would say—don’t ask him to mentor you because, if you ask him to mentor you, he’s going to say, “I’m not qualified. I don’t know how to do that.”
Just ask if he’ll meet with you because he’ll mentor you as he meets with you. Ask to meet with him once a month and talk about what it looks like to lead your family, how he did it, what he did and lessons he learned, etcetera.
Voddie: And go to his home and see it.
Dennis: There you go; absolutely. And then a second thing is—and I don’t exactly know how you would decide to do this—but in your church, select some other families who may be a lap or two ahead of you in the race of life. Connect with those older families, perhaps socially, perhaps in a growth group—some kind of spiritual growth group.
Maybe get in one of our Homebuilders© Bible studies for couples that we have. Maybe watch a series of videos together, that we have, that would equip you. The point is, “Connect relationally with other people who are living their lives out in this culture because this is no theory that we’re living here. This is life!”
Voddie: Yes; absolutely.
Dennis: And life is coming at all of us at high speed, with lots of evil options; and we all need to be encouraged, “To stand firm.”
Bob: And don’t you think the place to start, for a dad, would be to call and get a copy of Voddie’s book and to spend some time reading—
Bob: Get two copies?
Dennis: Two—two copies. [Laughter]
Bob: You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Buy a case of them and pass it out to everybody in the church. That’s what you’re thinking.
Bob: Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and look for Voddie’s book. It’s called Family Shepherds. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY for more information about Voddie’s book.
And by the way, Voddie is a part of the new Stepping Up©video series that FamilyLife is just now finishing up. It’s going to be available in August. If you would like to use this with the men’s group at your church, or if you’d just like to take a group of your friends through this video series when it releases in August, get more information. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link for the Stepping Up video series.
And then don’t forget—on Saturday, August 4th, the Stepping Up National Men’s Simulcast is going to be hosted in churches, all across the country. You can sign your church up to be a part of this nationwide event for men. It’s a kickoff event for men, late summer, early fall. Get the guys in your church, in your community together, and hear Dennis Rainey, Crawford Loritts, Robert Lewis, and James MacDonald—all challenging men to embrace biblical masculinity.
Find out more about the Stepping Up National Men’s Simulcast, the Stepping Up video series, and of course, Voddie Baucham’s book, Family Shepherds. All of that’s available online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call for more information at 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
Speaking of Stepping Up—that’s the title of the book that Dennis Rainey has written for guys. This month, we’d like to make a copy of that book available to you as our way of saying, “Thank you,” when you help support the ministry of FamilyLifeToday. We are listener-supported. It’s listeners, like you, who make this daily radio program possible as you help support the ministry with a donation.
If you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com right now, click the button that says, “I CARE”, and make an online donation. We’ll send you a copy of Dennis’ book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood; or you can make your donation when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Simply ask for your copy of the Stepping Up book when you get in touch with us.
This would be a great Father’s Day gift to give to your husband or to your dad. It would also help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for your financial support. We really do appreciate it and are always glad to hear from you.
And we want to encourage you to join us again tomorrow. Voddie Baucham is going to be here. We’re going to continue talking about men shepherding their families and how you live that out at home. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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