Interview with AL ROBERTSON: A Dynasty of Faith and Family
MEET THE ROBERTSONS. THESE CAMO-CLAD CLAN OF MILLIONARIES FROM LOUISANA HAVE MADE A NAME FOR THEMSELVES AS OVERNIGHT REALITY SHOW SENSATIONS.
I WAS ABLE TO SPEAK WITH PASTOR AL ROBERTSON, THE OLDEST, BEARDLESS BROTHER OF THE “DUCK DYNASTY” CLAN, ABOUT THE RICH LEGACY OF FAITH AND FAMILY THAT KEEPS THIS FAMILY ON TRACK.
YOU HAVE THIS BIBLE OUT AND YOU JUST GOT BACK FROM A DUCK COMMANDER CRUISE. IT MUST BE CRAZY TO SEE ALL THE OPPORTUNITIES GOD IS OPENING TO YOUR FAMILY TO SHARE THE GOSPEL.
It is pretty crazy at times. We were on a boat with 3,000 of our crazy fans. It was a blast. We had duck calls going on the whole time. I reminded me of summer youth camp. Personally, I have a great platform and opportunity to do this Bible project and other projects in the works. It really just broadened the ability to speak to a lot of people that
I really could’ve never spoke to before. I’ve been chucklin’ the last few months because I got to meet Ravi Zacharias and Steve Farrar. Great writers and thinkers that are out there in the biblical world that I have always respected as a pastor, and it’s funny that they are the people I looked up to in my faith journey and I get to meet them now.
I THINK IT’S GOING TO BE AMAZING TO SEE HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BUY A BIBLE FOR THE FIRST TIME BECAUSE IT’S A “DUCK DYNASTY” BIBLE.
Yeah, that’s really how this whole thing came to be. I was excited about it obviously because nobody has studied the Bible more than Dad and I have in terms of our teaching and preaching through the years. Then, it hit me. There’s a lot of people that this may be their first Bible or their first gift from a family member, whoever is a big fan of our show, and they may never have spent much time in the Word. That was the appeal to Dad and I both. We were excited about that. When we sat down and worked on this material it was just like a big Bible study which we love. We sat down with our computers and our Bibles out and just really went through several days of workin’ on what we love to do, and that’s how the Bible came to life through practical application and life changes. It was a lot of fun.
It was the most fun I’ve had on any of the projects we’ve done so far .
NOW FOR THE DUCK COMMANDER BIBLE PROJECT, YOU AND YOUR DAD FOCUSED ON THE ROBERTSON FIVE CORE VALUES OF FAITH, FAMILY, FELLOWSHIP, FORGIVENESS AND FREEDOM. WHY ARE THESE IMPORTANT TO YOU AS A FAMILY?
It was not an accident that we picked those values, because those are kind of our principles that guide us. We have started seeing a void of those concepts being talked about anywhere.
All of a sudden you have a fight in your home with your child or your spouse and you don’t know how to forgive because you have never been taught that—it’s not part of your life principles. Or, you’re in some cultural setting where freedom is not what it once was—people are enslaved to a lot of different things. So those core values are things that people are looking for and one of the reasons, I believe the show has had a high appeal. It’s because those things are upfront and you see those concepts played out within the context of family. That’s why we’re seeing thousands of people show up at appearances saying, “We want to know more. Tell us about faith.” To us, that’s the ultimate layup. We’re like, “Hey, that’s what we live for is to tell people about that.”
THERE’S NO TELLING HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN LED TO CHRIST THROUGH A SHOW ABOUT DUCKS.
That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do the Bible project. Because me being a teacher and preacher for 22 years, I made my living off of telling people about these people in the Bible that were just these little known, the runt of the litter, the crazy guy over here—all these people that are spread out between the Old Testament and the New Testament that are basically there because God used them in some powerful way.
That’s kind of the ironic thing that’s for us. You know you have these families here in Northern Louisiana, some of them crazy lookin’ or acting like Si, but who obviously love each other and serve a greater purpose. It really is like one of those unexpected Gideons or Jonahs that you see in the Bible but never quite fit into their own culture but have this amazing ability to relate to God’s grace.
AS YOU’VE WORKED ON THIS BIBLE PROJECT WITH YOUR DAD, TELL US ABOUT SOMETHING NEW THAT YOU’VE DISCOVERED.
I was sort of re-living life change because life-change is a big theme in this project. We start off with those 30 Life Changers at the beginning of the Bible which are basically like a devotional guide—an everyday devotional with a story of a different life that was changed—different people we have interacted with through the years. These stories impact me deeply. Some were funny because they are about the crazy ways of how we came to meet these people. But in telling these stories, it has really showed me that God has been using us for a long time to do what He needs done in the lives of others
I KNOW THE ROBERTSON CLAN WEREN’T ALWAYS CHRISTIANS IN THE EARLY YEARS.
Mom and Dad grew up in Christian homes but when they got to college, they left their Christian roots. They were very young when I was born. So for about 10 years for Dad and about 8 years for Mom, they were disconnected from God. So during my early years, I had no spiritual experience through them. The ironic thing is when Mom and Dad worked for a school system in Arkansas, we lived across the street from an older couple—a preacher and his wife. When I was just 4-years-old, this couple took me to church. I remember the first thing that I went to was Vacation Bible School which I thought was awesome. You got cookies, Kool Aid and you got Bible stories.
The pastor was a blind lady. I was always amazed because she knew the words to every song and she knew so much Bible, even thought she couldn’t see. To us small kids, she was like a spiritual superhero because she knew so much. But she taugh and put a foundation in me. So even though I wasn’t in a Christian home at the time, God still found a way to reach me.
IN YOUR TEEN YEARS, YOU KIND OF HAD A PRODIGAL SON EXPERIENCE. HOW DID THE WAY YOUR PARENTS LOVED YOUR DURING THAT REBELLIOUS TIME IN YOUR LIFE IMPACT YOUR DECISION TO TURN BACK TO CHRIST?
During my high school years, my parents returned to the faith, but I was in rebellion. So when I graduated from high school my parents told me, “Al, you can’t stay here at home to influence your brothers. You can’t be a part of our family and live apart from what we believe in. So if you want to choose to live your own way, then you’re going to have to go out on your own.”
Looking back, I was youthful, prideful and stubborn so I thought they were being jerks. After about a year and a half of living in New Orleans, I came to that realization that if I stayed in that place, living my own way, I wouldn’t live to see 19. I was a train wreck.
My parents were consistent to do what God says. So now I very much appreciate that it was a hard thing to take this stand with me. That’s tough love. I tell audiences now, “Look, that’s not hate speech when you tell someone the Truth. That’s love speech because you are providing them a way out. Now, your kids may or may not want to hear it at that moment. But trust me, if they ever do, they will always respect you for saying the right thing and living it.”
Also, when I came back home, my parents who asked me to leave because I wasn’t livin’ the right way, totally embraced me just like that father did in Luke 15. They said, “We’re not going to hold any past mistakes you’ve made against you.” We never went backwards. We only went forward and that’s the beauty of it. That’s what true forgiveness is all about.
ON THE SHOW, YOU SEE THE STRENGTH OF THE FAMILY UNIT—HOW HAS THAT BEEN AN INTEGRAL PART OF YOUR LIFE.
Lisa and I have been married 30 years. In fact, we’ve got a book coming out next year where we sort of tell our story. Like my parents, we got married young. We were 19 and 18, and pregnant the next year. We had our daughters, Anna, and then Alex when we were still young.
My wife and I connected when I was in my rebellious years. She was a good girl raised in a good home and was crazy about me. I was a negative influence on her. So we knew something about pain and difficulty through our relationship. We’ve had some difficulties along the way like any couple who has been married over 30 years. Still, we’ve managed to stay together, to love one another and to really understand the power of forgiveness.
My oldest daughter, Anna, got married when she was 18 as well. She had Carly, who is eight now—so we are young grandparents with seven grandchildren.
YOU’VE SEEN LIFE FROM BOTH SIDES— FINANCIAL STRUGGLES AS WELL AS THE POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE OF FAME. NOW YOUR KIDS ALREADY HAVE SPEAKING PLATFORMS. HOW DO YOU KEEP THEM GROUNDED?
When Mama and Daddy became Christians, we didn’t have much and we had to bond together to start the business, to work together. Now, we’ve got success. We have a thriving business and most of us are engaged in a part of it. We’re on television. Our kids are out there so that’s our biggest concern as we move forward with our children and grandkids. We want to keep that same love, commitment to God, commitment to forgiveness and be who we are as people and a family. We don’t want the success to be the thing that unravels us.
All four of us brothers live on the same street in West Monroe, Louisanna. We’ve been here about nine months. We moved in closer to town where Willie and Jase already lived, and Jep just bought a house. Jep, Jessica and their kids will be on the same street. We did that because we want to raise our kids together. My grandkids are about the same age as their younger kids. So we have that same sense of family, community, accountability for one another, like when we were growing up. We’re trying to instill our values into our children.
WHAT’S ONE WORD OF ADVICE YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE WITH FAMILIES FOR THIS TIME, THIS GENERATION?
Families that have something bigger than themselves to commit to are happier families. I think that’s what you see on the show. You see generational group of people that love God and love each other. The reason we are able to do that is because there’s something bigger than ourselves. And that bigger foundation for your family needs to be your faith in Christ.