A Reminder for Fathers
As fathers, it’s important to note that the gospel is eschatological—it is our hope not merely in this age, but also in the age to come.
First, the eschatological nature of the gospel means we do not view our families as ends in themselves. Family shepherds are not men working to shape perfect families that will meet all their earthly needs. On the contrary, we know that Christ alone can meet our ultimate needs, and that he will fully do so only at the end of this present age. We also know that our family ties are temporal, and it’s our ties to the body of Christ that matter eternally. Hence, our greatest desire is to lead our families to the feet of Christ, not to our own.
We must not expect from our wives and children that which will be supplied only in the age to come.
Second, the eschatological nature of the gospel means we do not hold our wives and children to unreasonable standards. We’re all fallen creatures. Perfection is a hope we hold out for the age to come. In the meantime, we enjoy progressive sanctification while we praise God for making us more Christlike from day to day. This means we must not expect from our wives and children that which will be supplied only in the age to come.
The Ongoing Task of Shepherding
Shepherding your family well is a task you must commit to because you know it to be right, and you see it as a means of grace that God will use to bless you and your family. However, it’s not a practice that will eliminate all your problems. It is not a cure-all. It’s not as though we shepherd our families well for a period of time, then sit back and enjoy the fruit of our labors.
Shepherding is an ongoing task. The work isn’t done until the Good Shepherd calls us home. In the meantime, we’ll have to teach the same lessons over and over, we’ll often make the same mistakes again and again, and we must continue to rely on the grace of God to see us through.
We’ll have to remind ourselves constantly that the gospel is news to be proclaimed constantly. We’ll have to point to the God of the gospel again and again. We’ll have to continually remind ourselves and our families of the Christ-centered, cross-centered, grace-centered message. And then one day, “when the chief Shepherd appears” (1 Pet. 5:4), we will see him set all things right. For now, we do our work and hold out hope—the hope that we find in the gospel.
This article is adapted from Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes by Voddie Baucham Jr.
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