by Diana Chandler
NASHVILLE (BP) — The 8.6 million who viewed the 2013 season premiere of “Duck Dynasty” no doubt enjoy family patriarch Phil Robertson’s antics, from his unkempt beard to promises of poor hygiene. But the fisherman and duck caller with a master’s degree in education also tells a story of faith.
Robertson’s faith walk began in his late 20s during his “sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle” when his sister was handing out Christian tracts in a bar where he worked, he said in an interview at LifeWay.com.
“I just decided to follow Him 38 years ago when I heard that He, in fact, was God in flesh. Not only was He God in flesh, it took the blood of God to remove my ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll’ lifestyle — sin,” Robertson said. “Well, I’m sitting there listening and I’m like, ‘Man, that was a mighty kind thing to do for a scumbag like me.’ Not only that, it wouldn’t do me any good, though, if something could not be done about the six-foot hole I’m going into — and you too, by the way.”
When the reality show premiered in March 2012 on A&E television, his sons and co-stars told him to contain himself, “because the Hollywood people wouldn’t let him get away with preaching,” Robertson said.
Robertson’s new book “Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander” will be available in May. He also tells his story of faith at churches and community events across the U.S.
Amidst the quackish wisdom, he seeks to model a Christian life.
“We’re godly people. We really don’t use filthy language. We really do fear God,” Robertson said. “We really do love you; you’re our neighbor. We’re gonna be good to you, really. And, we love you, irregardless of how you feel about us. In other words, our love for you is not contingent upon whether you love us or not. We just love you and … you say, ‘well I don’t like you.’ I say that’s OK. I love you anyway.
“I just go on down the road.”
Robertson credits the Lord with his success, sharing his epiphany from a sinful, unfulfilled school teacher to a faithful fisherman and duck caller set on turning his life’s passion into his livelihood.
After accepting Jesus at age 28, he told his wife ‘Miss Kay’ he would fish the Ouachita River and market and sell the duck call he had created from cedar wood to support her and their four sons.
“But if you fast-forward 40 years, from the fishing and trying to get the duck call going to where we now are, we have now entered the world of Hollywood. We now have a multi-million-dollar business, and Miss Kay’s line has now become infamous, ‘Phil, I’ve been poor with you … I’ve been rich with you … rich is better,'” he said.
“Therefore, I either was real lucky, there had to have been a lot of coincidences, or God was right all along, ‘Love Me, trust Me, work hard, do what is right and I will bless you and your barns will be filled up, tapped down and running over.’ That’s what happened. It’s either luck or God said, ‘I’ll bless you. You did good.’ I’m leaning toward it was the Almighty.
“There you go.”
The entrepreneur was born to a financially stretched family in Vivian, La., and attended Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship, playing first string quarterback ahead of hall-of-famer Terry Bradshaw. Robertson turned down an opportunity to play pro ball because it would have meant missing duck season, he has said.
He began making duck calls in a backyard shed, shipping orders, marketing the call to stores and earning a living mostly by fishing. His family business has grown to produce and sell duck calls from a manufacturing plant in Ouachita, Ark., and to market various Duck Commander products in stores across the U.S. and in several countries.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).