I just recently finished reading Timothy Witmer’s book for pastors on faithful shepherding. One passage that stood out to me was a discussion of Richard Baxter’s model for “feeding the sheep,” that is faithfully and personally teaching the members of his congregation, by feeding and equipping fathers. I found the passage personally convicting and challenging. I wanted to share this passage with you. It can be found on pages 150-151:
What better way to multiply the personal ministry of the word than by equipping dads to pray and read the Scriptures with their families. Note that Baxter suggests that we “give them an example.” How many of our families would be well fed if we merely gave some simple suggestions to their shepherds?
“Get masters of families to do their duty, and they will not only spare you a great deal of labour, but will much further the success of your labours. If a captain can get the officers under him to do their duty, he may rule the soldiers with much less trouble, than if all lay upon his own shoulders. You are not like to see any general reformation, till you procure family reformation” (Richard Baxter, Reformed Pastor (1656; repr., Carslisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1997), 102).
In doing this you are not only multiplying the ministry of the Word among your people but helping fathers fulfill their God-given responsibilities. Undoubtedly, many elders will have to repent of their neglecting this duty themselves in order to proceed with a clear conscience. This is progress, too, and a great place to start!