Well, not personally. I’ve never met the real Phil Robertson. But, as a rural youth minister, I’ve met and served with plenty of Phil Robertson’s in my time.
They are guys who are farmers, miners or entrepreneurs. They love being outdoors hunting, fishing or even golfing. Their words maybe crude sometimes, but they’re always filled with truth. More than anything they want people to know Jesus.
They’re also the same men who will give a student hundreds of dollars so he or she can attend a youth camp, mission trip and youth event. He’ll give money without questioning the situation or asking about parental involvement. He doesn’t care if their parents are married, divorced, living together or non-existent. He loves Jesus and he loves students. He wants to see them come to Christ.
I knew one Phil Robertson-type who showed up on morning after an all-night youth event offering to buy breakfast because he knew, as adults, we’d had a long night with students. He was a farmer and already up.
I knew another Phil Robertson-type who volunteered to attend youth camp because we just couldn’t find enough chaperones. Though in his 70s, he was active, playful and brutally honest with our teens about temptation and lust. There’s just something about an uncouth, politically incorrect man sharing truth with teenage boys. Our students learned more from him in one week than they did with me in a year.
I knew yet another Phil Robertson-type who subbed in on short notice to chaperone a youth event and even drive the bus. One of our chaperones had to cancel last minute and he knew how important it was to have adequate adult help. His acts of service did not go unnoticed by our students.
I remember one Phil Robertson-type who handed me a wad of cash and told me to give to a youth ministry family in need in our church. The only condition: I couldn’t tell them where it came from.
As a rural youth minister, I see Phil Robertsons all over my church, my community and my ministry. I thank God for older men, grounded in scripture, willing to speak their mind and always ready to assist others – particularly teenagers – in need.
As the debate rages about the real Phil Robertson and his comments to GQ Magazine, as rural youth ministers, let’s take a little time to thank the Phil Robertsons of our churches. They speak truth, but they also show love and support.
Ultimately, they live out their faith in Jesus.
I hope, one day, I will be much more like them.