Football star turned fugitive. Educator turned swamp dweller. Destitute turned millionaire. Promiscuous turned preacher. Ever which way you want to call it, the colorful Phil Robertson story is definitely one for the big screen.
Whether you’re a cameraman for the hit show Duck Dynasty, a flashy GQ writer in awe of the Louisiana bayou, or a neighbor lady hooked on cocaine, Phil Robertson is ready to shoot it to you straight, like it or not.
When you’ve been there and done that, you have a message.
So what has Phil learned in his dramatic, peculiar life? Plenty. Enjoy these 21 life lessons from a man who’s been it all – well, except a yuppie. Here’s what it takes, according to Phil, to be happy, happy, happy.
1. Fame is cheap compared to faith in Jesus.
When Drew Magary came to West Monroe, LA, to interview Phil Robertson for GQ, he likely wasn’t prepared for just how much of a stir his story would create. It is likely, however, that Phil was.
Although the interview became fodder for homopride censorship, it’s doubtful Phil would have hidden his faith even if he’d known how explosive his expressions of belief would prove.
He told Magary, “If you simply put your faith in Jesus coming down in flesh, through a human being, God becoming flesh living on the earth, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and being raised from the dead—yours and mine and everybody else’s problems will be solved.
And the next time we see you, we will say: ‘You are now a brother. Our brother.’ So then we look at you totally different then. See what I’m saying?”
Whether Magary saw the value in what Phil was saying or not, the lesson the whole story taught us is clear: faith trumps fame, no matter who doesn’t like it.
2. If you don’t know where it came from, don’t put it in your mouth.
When you spend your life in the water supplying your family with fresh food straight from the source, you become amazed at the fear others have of sampling delicious wild edibles.
From squirrel dumplings to frog legs, dinner at the Robertson household is as interesting as the people that sit around the table. Pass the mayhaw jelly, please. Just hold the coon poop, Si.
3. Some things need to be saved, and some things need to be culled.
When you’ve lived in the same place for decades and have pack rat tendencies, being willing to cull certain items is a must. Unfortunately, there were times when Phil got rid of things that should never be lost. “I would say the low point is when I ran Miss Kay and the kids off – you’re all alone, no hope, miserable,” he said in an interview. After turning his life over to Jesus Christ, Phil began the process of saving his marriage and his children’s lives.
Throughout his infidelity and drug abuse, Miss Kay fought to believe that there was hope for their marriage. As rotten as things looked, her granny had taught her that marriage was worth saving.
Duck Dynasty’s fans can be thankful that she listened.
4. Duck calls should sound like ducks, not world champion duck callers.
When Phil left his football career to hunt ducks, he discovered that the duck call business was more geared for winning duck call championships that actually luring ducks. Eventually, he decided to revolutionize the duck call industry by offering a duck call that actually does what it’s designed to do. The life lesson? Be genuine, even when the trend is to be a fake carbon copy of whatever’s popular.
5. Life’s better spent barefoot.
Whether he’s at home or out in the rattler-infested waters checking out a duck blind, Phil is likely to be found barefoot, his calloused, leathery bunions shielding him from the dangers lurking in the deep. Seriously, the man has no fear. The lesson? Enjoy life comfortably, trust God, and watch where you step.
6. Boys, marry a woman who reads her Bible and loves to cook.
When Phil has a moment to share his words of wisdom with a grandson or two, he loves passing on romantic counsel. Gesturing toward their grandma, he reminds them that godliness and good cooking aren’t likely to fade with time.
7. Life’s better with a faithful dog at your side.
A good dog can be a great companion, whether curled up next to you on the recliner or out in the water fetching dropped ducks.
8. Men can and should cook, and cook well.
In Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen, Phil has plenty of recipes that he commands and the women wisely leave him to it. After all, what good is it to hunt and have no idea how to make it taste great?
9. Beware of women and garage sales.
Phil has learned the hard way: when it’s yard sale time, park yourself in your favorite, sweat-saturated easy chair, and brace yourself for the “great deals” that are about to come piling into the already-packed spare room.
10. Don’t even discuss sex before marriage.
Although it’s a mite uncomfortable, Phil doesn’t hold back his cautions regarding dangerous behavior. To his grandkids, he warns them not to even entertain the idea of sex before marriage. To the rest of us, he provides an example of how to just come right out with the talk for our kids, especially when they need it most.
11. Technology isn’t pure evil, but it’s close.
Remember Phil chucking John Luke’s smart phone across the field? Yeah, that about says it all.
12. Never judge. Tell the truth, and let the chips fall where they may.
“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell,” Phil said in his infamous interview. “That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
13. Be repentant, turn to God, and get on with it, and everything will just turn around.
This is Phil’s simple prescription for the good life. The ducks are just a drawing card to share the gospel.
14. Real men wear beards.
For Phil, wearing a beard has three advantages. Wearing a beard is the natural way of showing you are a man. Most women can’t wear beards. Wearing a beard is warm in a freezing cold duck blind. End of story.
15. Welcome guests.
Phil taught Miss Kay, “When company leaves, never say anything negative about how much they ate. They loved your cooking!”
16. Be ready to teach, and even readier to learn.
The Robertson home is always open to those who need a friend. Miss Kay said, “Open your door to visitors. Most people don’t even care what you cook or if you have enough; mostly they just need a listening ear. You’ll be surprised what you can teach others, and you’ll be surprised what they can teach you.”
17. There’s not much so important it can’t be discussed comfortably from a camo recliner.
And you know, he’s right.
18. If it flies, grows wild, swims, or lives in a tree, it belongs to whoever can catch it.
As long as folks eat what they shoot, Phil is all for it. After all, the woods and the water fed their family during the lean times.
19. Never end a day without prayer.
The unwillingness of the Robertson family to give up their signature mealtime prayer is a defining theme of the show, and it is one that has inspired the affection of millions of viewers, despite the critics.
20. People will misunderstand you, misrepresent you, and malign you. Love them anyway.
Phil’s easy-going attitude toward those who have twisted his intentions show that there’s no need to get defensive when people misjudge you. After all, everybody needs forgiveness; when you’ve been forgiven, it’s easy to forgive.
21. When it all boils down, it all begins and ends with Jesus.
According to Phil, “If the human race just loved each other and loved God, we would just be better off.” In the GQ interview, he pointed out to Magary, “All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists? Zero. That’s eighty years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.”
Phil Robertson is, in many ways, a peculiar duck. Judging by the peace that radiates from his weathered, bearded face and the genuine, girlish giggles from Miss Kay, being peculiar isn’t always a bad thing.