A dad who is the spiritual leader of his family is both a shepherd and a watchman. The main function of a shepherd is to feed and lead his flock, and an additional duty he has is that of a watchman—he is to watch over his flock to protect it against predators. In Bible times, a watchman’s responsibility was to keep a vigil at the city walls and warn the inhabitants when an enemy approached or some other kind of trouble threatened.
So, what must he do to keep himself vigilant?
A watchman keeps himself prepared. The apostle Paul had spent three years in Ephesus shepherding a band of new believers. He had been a faithful watchman who paid careful attention to the enemy’s tactics and warned his flock, “After my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). Paul told the Ephesian church leaders, “Take heed to yourselves” (Acts 20:28a). Paul reminded these leaders to first watch over their own spiritual condition. The same is true for a dad.
A watchman keeps himself informed. He knows what to look for. In World War II, spotters were placed on remote islands in the South Pacific along the flight path of Japanese planes and warships. To prepare them for their mission, the spotters were trained to identify each enemy plane and warship. This information would help them convey appropriate warnings to others. Likewise, a father learns what to watch for so he can protect his family.
When you consider your role as a watchman over your family, you need to watch over your own spiritual condition. And you need to develop the “spiritual eyes” that enable you to spot potential spiritual attacks of the enemy on you and your family. If your spiritual eyes are dull or dimmed, you won’t be able to recognize the devil’s schemes against you and your children. The apostle Peter describes the devil as a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). A watchman knows what is required of him and what he is watching for.