"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
— Micah 6:8
When I Was a Pastor, my wife and I were the celebrity couple of the church; we were the “front men” for our local assembly of believers. Our children were scrutinized more than other children of the church; our marriage was looked at as the example for how to live in harmony with a spouse; our lives were on display for the community.
In that capacity, we had to decide what was important. We had to learn how to live with eternity in view; we had to strive for marital harmony, because we knew that not only did our family deserve to see a biblical marriage, but also the people of our church. We had to employ biblical principles in our home because we knew that we were setting the example.
Today, we’re not just a small town pastor and his wife— millions of people know who we are! We didn’t plan on being a household name, but if we had not had the foresight to employ Scripture into our family at the start, we never would have been prepared for the success of Duck Commander. My Dad once said, “If we don’t know who we are going into this business, we won’t recognize who we are on the other side of fame and glory.”
Walking by faith is the only way to grow a family, a church, or a business. In the corporate world, there is a great risk in entrepreneurship: success or failure, profit gain or loss; prosperous venture or failed attempt. Because we serve a greater Master than the almighty dollar, at Duck Commander, as in our individual families, we do not measure our success based upon how much money we make in a year.
Our success is measured in something far greater than revenue.
In this article, I want to share with you the pillars of our family and business success. I believe that God has unlocked a treasure trove of wisdom through a single verse in the Old Testament. By following its principles, you will see how we have built our empire upon four basic truths.
THE PILLAR OF UNITY, TRUTH #1
We are a family business. Whenever a big order comes in or goes out, we work together as a team to complete the job. In the early days of Duck Commander, we would put out the call to our church members to help with distribution and organization. We would spend four to five hours on an assembly line and end with a huge steak supper, cooked by Dad, himself. He figured that the best way to get things done was to have a good product, some good fellowship, and a good meal.
It took unity to make our business work.
“Team work makes the dream work” isn’t just a pithy saying, it is our corporate lifestyle. A peaceful work environment fosters productivity and inspires quality assurance. When a business is built upon unity, pressures and cracks only promote teamwork, rather than dissension.
Unity is vastly different from uniformity. Diversity is a key aspect of a quality product and a successful company. Our business is built upon duck calls. While each call is built in a similar fashion, every call has a singular purpose. The Duck Commander website offers over 40 types of duck calls, each of which were created to appeal to a specific cross-section of duck hunters. Whether you are using the Miss Priss, the Commander-N-Chief, or an acrylic, wood, or reed version of the basic duck call, we aim to please a variety of interests.
The foundation of a relationship should be no different. When there is a peaceful unity within the home, burdens are lifted, and work is shared.
THE PILLAR OF HUMILITY, TRUTH #2
Humility is one of the easiest things to lose when a company or an individual becomes a celebrity. When the world is clamoring for your product, it’s easy to think that you’re invincible, that you’re on top of the world, and that nothing can bring you down. Those are the moments when humility is tantamount to your survival.
"For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” — Romans 12:3a
In other words, don’t assume you’re all grown up until you’re invited to sit at the adult table. God has a funny way of exalting His children; He makes all things beautiful in His time.
In my personal life, I try to let neither praise nor criticism stick to me; I try not to believe either one. As a preacher, a husband, a businessman, I know that I have a job to do. As long as I continue doing my job to the best of my ability, I know that I will please my heavenly Master.
In a relationship, when both parties remain humble, they allow each other to share in both the successes and the failures. When faced with adversity, they remain strong and are able to deal with pressures from without and from within. Humility is not a requirement for success, as many successful CEO’s and entrepreneurs lack the character trait, but if an eternal impact is to be made upon a family, a business, or a society, humility must be present.
THE PILLAR OF HONESTY, TRUTH #3
Let’s face it: people do dishonest things. Dishonesty creates dissension; dissension creates chaos. Business owners and managers, as well as family members and spouses, cannot maintain unity without honesty. In our family, and consequently, our business, we have learned to be upfront and honest with each other, no matter how much it hurts. Operating upon hidden agendas and he-said-she-said mentalities kills relationships which, in turn, kill companies.
Honesty works two ways: giving and receiving. In order to maintain long-term goals, a peaceful environment at work and home, and ultimately, success, honesty must be emphasized both ways. If a man is honest in his relationship, it helps clear the air, but if he, in turn, does not receive honesty in a humble and gracious manner, honesty will breed contempt.
If we cloud up like a thunderstorm every time someone is honest with us, it will not inspire that person to be honest with us. Honesty is a basic tenet of a solid relationship, but if we can’t receive the honesty being given, what good is it?
In the workplace and at home, it is not enough to give an honest answer; we must not overreact to honesty. Be upfront; be honest; receive honesty; deal with problems; inspire solutions.
THE PILLAR OF ACCOUNTABILITY, TRUTH #4
Accountability is the twin brother of honesty. By helping others be better, by being upfront and sincere in the giving and receiving of honesty, we promote accountability. Accountability then inspires success. When I am willing to hold a brother accountable, I assume that he will return the favor.
Most people run away from accountability, both the giving and receiving of such. As Christians, it is our duty to hold each other accountable! When you invite Christ into your company, your family, your church, you bring accountability and honesty into your personal and professional walk. Accountability is a system of checks and balances that can be applied to the workforce, an athletic team, a classroom, and the family. It is an essential component of success.
In our perspective, Duck Commander has made celebrities of our family. It would be easy for us to wall ourselves off and put ourselves on a pedestal, but when you’re up so high that others can’t reach, who will keep you accountable? Every person, every businessman, every CEO needs an inner circle. Whether it is family, close friends, or other business leaders, it is important to tap into a local community of accountability.
DO JUSTLY, LOVE KINDNESS, WALK HUMBLY WITH GOD.
Our four pillars can be boiled down to fit quite nicely into the framework of Micah 6:8: when we do justly, we operate upon the twin pillars of honesty and accountability; when we love kindness, we inspire unity and camaraderie within the workplace and home; and when we walk humbly with our God, we embrace humility and show honor to our colleagues and our spouses.
When we live our lives in accordance with these simple truths, God blesses the fruits of our hands. By putting Him first in our businesses and families, we can’t help but succeed. Whether that success comes on a national scale or whether it is within our local communities, when we glorify God, we will succeed. If we make millions or simply make a living, God will be glorified.
At Duck Commander, we did not always have celebrity status. We started out with a lot of fishing, a lot of duck calls, and a lot of fried bologna sandwiches. We didn’t start as a global brand recognizable by our facial hair and southern charm; God built this empire—we were just along for the ride.
Our lives are ugly. We have warts and sometimes our feet stink. Some days we’re on top of the mountain enjoying the view, and others are spent trudging through the swamp trying to get ahead. My wife, Lisa, and I have been through the war. We have lost many skirmishes and fought countless unwinnable battles, but our God is greater than our failures. Through His sovereign grace and providence, we can look back and see how doing justly, loving kindness, and walking in humility have brought us the victory.
Allow God to get to you. Allow Him to control your life and your career. Do justly, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God by building your empire upon unity, humility, honesty, and accountability. Praise Him in the calm; praise Him in the storm. Give God the glory and enjoy the ride!
Our new book, A New Season: A Robertson Family Love Story of Brokenness and Redemption, tells all about our personal journey to biblical success. There has been good stuff over the years, but there has been a whole lot of ugly, painful failures. We had to learn how to put the pillars of success into practice in our family before we could ever be a part of an international success story such as Duck Commander. The purpose of our book is to give God glory and to give people hope.
By: Alan Robertson
Alan Robertson is the oldest son of Phil and Kay Robertson. He helped build the foundation of the family business, Duck Commander. Recently, Alan has returned to the family business after serving in full-time ministry for more than 25 years. Alan plays a vital role in the family’s commitment to spreading the gospel of Christ through their love of hunting and the great outdoors. Alan and his wife, Lisa, are parents of two grown daughters and proud grandparents to two granddaughters and a grandson on the way.