Having Done Your Best

There’s always a bit of melancholy as you pull away from the livestock auction, feedlot, or processor. You realize that in most cases, certain death awaits the animals you so lovingly nurtured, doctored, fed, protected, and cared for. Some ranchers in our area appear to treat their livestock as a disposable item they use up and then discard. Others keep their livestock in overgrown, weed-filled pastures and offer poor-quality water to their livestock, seeming to spend the least possible needed to get them to market. At the Cross-Dubya, we go to great lengths to be good stewards of the living, breathing blessings God has entrusted to us.

We pray over them, gently handle them, and ensure their top physical and emotional health. Some producers will think that visiting their livestock each day to observe, talk to, and treat as humanely as possible is ridiculous. My foreman Mr. John and I see it as honoring God.

There’s no doubt that cattle ranching and farming is a business, and some level of profitability is required to remain viable. Growing up working at my adoptive family’s service station, I learned my business philosophy and many life lessons from my adoptive parents. They showed the principles of stewardship in all aspects of their lives. I found one of those lessons in something my dad taught me before I was 18 years old.

“We must make a profit to stay in business. But I’d rather make
a little from a lot of folks who will return to us than make a lot
from one person who we’ll never see again.” -Stewart E. Adams

To use a baseball analogy, something I can hear my friend Mr. Del Duduit say in his rich, silky voice. You won’t hit a home run with every turn at bat. Your on-base percentage is more valuable to the team than your home run average. Productivity, and thus profitability, is determined not by those rare instances of grandeur but in your consistent performance. In our cattle operation, that equates to the nearly three-pound average daily gain (ADG) per calf. Year-after-year, season after season, if I deliver consistent products with the highest possible quality, my rewards will come.

I’ve long-believed that the more God-honoring we are in all aspects of our life, the more God blesses us. Something else my dad said many years ago has stuck with me to this day.

“How much you earn is not nearly as important as how you earn it.
And if you’re honoring God by the way you live your life and earn
your living, your greatest compensation will await you in heaven.”

As I’ve grown older, and most-importantly grown in Christ, I understand just how wise that counsel was. I pray daily that my Spiritual Retirement Account (SRA) is far more valuable than my Individual Retirement Account (IRA). My investments in others for the Kingdom’s business will have a much higher return on investment than any stock I could purchase here on earth.

Are your best investments made in the stock market or God’s economy? #InvestingInEternity #CrossDubya Click To Tweet

My dad could have retired with more savings in his bank account, but as his memorial service showed, he was among the richest men in our community in other ways. He was much beloved and respected, not for what he did as much as for what he didn’t do.

He didn’t gouge customers for repairs and sought to find cost-saving ways to repair or rebuild an auto part rather than replacing it. It might have been faster to replace it, but the quality wasn’t nearly the same. Many times, he invested in our customers by making needed repairs on credit to ensure they could continue earning a living. While some never repaid that credit, I am certain that God will repay his kindness and goodness many times over at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I apply those same lessons in our small family ranching business.

So how does all this tie back to raising and selling cattle or harvesting ranch-raised beef? For me, it all comes down to the peace of mind required for a good night’s rest. Whether I’ve helped a mama cow through a difficult delivery or sold a six-month-old, 650-pound calf, I rest soundly knowing I honored God in my efforts that day.

We honor God when we give Him our best effort in everything we do. #HonoringGod #Stewardship #CrossDubya Click To Tweet

When you put your heart and soul into caring for something or someone, it’s hard to let that go. We must steward our children, grandchildren, and every blessing that God has entrusted to us. We can do that by giving them the same care and love that Jesus Christ showed us about how God cares for us. Parting with our cows and calves is made much easier by knowing that while in our care, we did our best to honor God. Whatever their destiny, we gave them the best care possible. Isn’t this what we should endeavor to do with all of God’s blessings?

Sending your little one to kindergarten, your grown child off to college, marriage, or saying goodbye to a loved one who is stepping into eternity, letting go is difficult. I pray you rest easy as you release them to their destiny, knowing you have done your best for them.

God’s blessings,

52 thoughts on “Having Done Your Best

  1. OK… you did it again, J.D.–wrapped so much into a relatively brief account thaf it will take days to process. Initially, my heart was blessed again with the way you continue to honor your dad, and not just by repeating a thing or two that he said along the way, but by recognizing and emulating the way he sought to honor God in how he lived. In my mind, there’s no better way to pass along the love he exhibited to the son he adopted and to the Father who adopted him. And that brings the focus to what touched my heart most deeply, that is that love is not about the things we feel or do for certain people on special occasions or during particular periods of their lives. Like the One who created and embodies it, love as God designed it is not something we turn off and on like a spigot. If it’s from God, it flows out from us continually, whether we’re cuddling our child, hugging our wife or husband, helping a neighbor work on his car, or scratching the ears and saying goodbye to a young bull we helped bring into the world. Love means our tears might flow over losses endured by people we hardly know. Love means our hearts can explode with joy with the news that someone else’s desperate prayers for healing or provision were answered. And sometimes it means we feel a warm glow of God’s “shalom” pouring over us simply because somebody we never actually met was blessed with a good week on small ranch we’ve never actually seen.

    1. Am humbled by your kindness sir. You’re right in that adoption was created by God, and the best way we can honor that gift is by living a life that shows all they’ve poured into us. I’ve long said, “Anything good in me is a result of what my adopted dad, mama, and Abba poured into me.” Of my most precious memories was when my dad, suffering from the throes of onset dementia, and I got into a ‘debate’ about the size of flannel PJs. After some “heat”, we both apologized, and my dad looked up at me as we sat on the edge of his bed and he said, “I don’t understand it. How is it that you’re my adopted son but you are so much like me?” He may never know it, but oh how i cried with joy and thanksgiving when I was alone afterwards. Tears are forming now as I recall that particular blessing. Oh, how I pray many of us will hear those same words when our Father tells us He is proud of who we became under His guidance. God’s blessings my friend.

    1. Thank you Ms. Nancy. I pray that more American children have the opportunity to learn important lessons like these from their fathers. I fear that generations have been lost because too many of us were distracted by worldly goals and not heavenly goals. God’s blessings ma’am.

  2. The way you care for your cattle not only honors God and your dad, it makes a huge difference to those animal. They are God’s creatures and I wish more people realized how important it is to treat ALL God’s creatures with care and respect. You are one in a million.

    1. Thank you Ms. Ann. I so appreciate the comment ma’am. Far too many folks believe that because we are “a higher species” that it means we are superior to all others. I’ve never seen it this way. When I look at prisons, newspapers, “anti-social” media, and television they’re filled with hatred, vitriol, murder, and mayhem. Has anyone ever considered that no other living being on earth wantonly destroys their environment, their unborn, and each other? God gave man dominion over all creation, He didn’t give us license to destroy and waste it.

  3. JD, this is beautiful. The love and compassion you and Mr. John show to the animals is truly inspiring. I pray that we all will show the love of Christ to people and animals. Have a blessed day dear friend! 🙂

    1. Thank you Ms. Melissa. I think it all ties back to lessons on respect (R-E-S-P-E-C-T). If we learn to respect our money, food, environment, etc. then it has value in our eyes. If we ignore, misuse, and mistreat all those blessings, then I think we show disrespect to God.

  4. What wonderful life lessons you learned, J.D. You were truly blessed to have such a wise dad and those examples are evident in your life. You have passed them to all who know you. Blessings, my friend!

  5. J.D.,
    So often, I want to control the future, so much so that I find myself cheating “the now”. We can’t control what happens to our beloveds, but we can serve God faithfully to the best of our ability by loving on them, in the day-to-day.
    Thank you for reminding me of that great spiritual truth!

    1. “Cheating the now”, oh how I love that term Ms. Gena. I can see a future blog post based upon that. Care to write it ma’am? How very true it is that we get so wrapped up in “tomorrow” that we miss so many opportunities to bless and be blessed in the “now”. As I’m writing, I’m thinking about how many times I’ve sat at the table and asked “What’s for dinner”” or “What are we having for lunch?” before I’ve even finished my meal. There’s also been times when I miss something my wife or others share with me because I’m in “left field”, which means I’m thinking about something I need to get done later/tomorrow rather than enjoying the blessing of fellowship in the moment. Great lesson here ma’am. Looking forward to that guest post one day. 😀 (Subtle enough?)

  6. Ever so grateful for the attitude you and Mr. John take toward God’s precious creatures. They sure have much to communicate to a teachable heart. Animals give unconditional love in ways we humans just can’t quite master. Thanks for sharing, JD.

  7. Both my parents instilled in me the value of doing my best at whatever task I was involved in. My mother added the component of, “Do it with love.” Those values we learn as a child stay with us forever–another reminder of the importance of the care we give to our children and the role models we provide. Your message brought back memories and I especially appreciate the hope you share in your conclusion. Thank you.

    1. They (our values) surely do stay with us don’t they Ms. Katherine. Although, I have to say that all of us never learned them enough that they stayed with us. I do wish more of us would remember to be role models through our lives. I think perhaps, part of “the great deception” is the belief that we are only responsible for ourselves and our own happiness and wellbeing, and others must fend for themselves. When we start living “inward lives” (focused on ourselves) then we miss the opportunity to share all that is in us through our “outward lives” (sharing our life with others). Great points ma’am.

  8. You’ve described something far beyond a good work ethic. It’s a stewardship that rises out of love and calling. It would have to be that to manage the ranch like you do. I read this first thing this morning, but couldn’t respond then. Raising animals that are born to die is one thing, but naming them and having a day to day relationship is way more than I could handle. I think nothing of beef wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam tray, but I never looked in his eyes or called his name. Sort of reminds me of getting laid off, and the HR person said, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” Thanks for being able to do what you do. I wish all my beef stew and tacos had been raised in such loving conditions, but I know they aren’t.

    1. Thank you Ms. Dottie. Many of our female calves (heifers) become replacement herd cows while we generally only harvest steers. In all cases, treating them with the dignity they deserve us important to us. We think it important because it’s important to God. While created to be a food source for man, we should never take that blessing for granted.

  9. A wonderful call to excellence, J.D., thank you. It’s comforting to know that God knows and honors efforts done as unto Him, whatever the outcome. I so enjoy these ‘lessons from ranch life’ in your posts, very heart-satisfying. May the Lord bless all that you do there for Him!

    1. It sure us comforting Ms. Wendy. When we draw near to God and we can feel His embrace in our hearts, we can rejoice in knowing we have somehow pleased Him. That always brings a warm smile to my soul.

  10. I poured myself a third cup of coffee to sit and read your words. J.D., this was just so timely and touched me deeply. Bless you, friend, for sharing your dad’s words of wisdom. Bless you for sharing about your cows and ranching and the way God teaches you through them. I’m not sure which part of this post was the nugget I needed most for I needed it all. May I put my heart and soul into all I do each and every day and entrust it all to our Lord. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Ms. Joanne. If I may ma’am, as I read your numerous posts each week, I am convinced you are putting my dad’s words into practice in your life now my friend. Perhaps, that’s because he got them from our Father in heaven. God’s blessings.

  11. I appreciate so much your approach with your livestock. The beef industry has gotten a bad rap in recent years.

    Many nuggets in this post. I especially love this one: “How much you earn is not nearly as important as how you earn it.” It should be taught in business school.

    1. Thank you Ms. Candyce. Perhaps if more ethics and integrity was taught instead of self-importance and self-reliance, we’d see business today flourishing and growing as it did when American workers made us the most prosperous nation in the world. I think a big difference then was that we recognized that the quality of our work reflected upon our life and the value of what we did went far beyond the paycheck.

  12. Your father was such a wise man, and I am glad he passed his wisdom along both in word and example. It’s sad, but it seems to be increasingly rare these days to find people who work for more than the “bottom line.” Sometimes when you need customer service, it’s hard to find someone who cares about the problem. Our stewardship, how we treat people and animals, going the extra mile, doing everything as unto the Lord, all are investments in our “Spiritual Retirement Account” and all glorify the God we love and serve.

    1. How true Ms. Barbara. It seems that what was once commonplace and expected (good customer service) has now become such a rarity that we gush about it when it so sparingly happens. While we should recognize when someone today goes above and beyond the “It’s not my job” attitude so many workers have today, it saddens me that we have come to expect the opposite. It makes me wonder what else we have come to expect the opposite in through our lives?

  13. Raising something that was born to die reminds me of Jesus. I guess Mary knew it too, all those 30 years and then the 3 of His ministry. I can’t imagine the agony she must have experienced going through His crucifixion and death. But her broken heart was rejoicing after His resurrection! His death had served a greater purpose by purchasing our salvation as our kinsman-redeemer.
    It would hurt my heart to sell cattle for market, but the way you care for and honor them turns it around for good. You are a good man to both mankind and God’s animal kingdom, brother JD. God bless you, my friend.

    1. What a great point to make Ms. Karen. Surely, Mary (mother of Jesus) knew the Torah and she knew the Old Testament teachings of Isaiah and others that prophesied the coming Messiah. She lived through the entirety of Jesus’ life knowing what was to come. How did that impact her? Her decisions, her caring, her love? Did she treat Jesus differently from her and Joseph’s other children? I suspect not as she held onto that secret knowledge. While I can’t compare my cattle’s short life to Christs, in any way, I do think that I exhibit more grace and gentleness with them because I know they will one day give their life for me. Great thoughts here ma’am. Thank you for your kindness and your gentle heart. You inspire me ma’am.

    1. Yes ma’am; I agree Ms. Terri. While we should, my hope rests in the knowledge that one day soon (I believe) we will again as we reign with Jesus for a thousand years. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

  14. Your post is full of so much great wisdom. Thank you for the way you care for your animals and for us by sharing your thoughts.

    1. Am deeply humbled by your kind words Ms. Yvonne. Thank you for all your encouragement ma’am. Like you, I pray daily that God help me to bring Him glory through whatever manner of service He sees fit. I pray also that He leads me in His ways so that others might see Him. God’s blessings gentle soul.

    1. They sure are! Perhaps the more difficult to let go of completely is an indication of how much we love. Thanks Ms. LuAnn.

  15. Beautifully said, J.D.! You put the focus on God and eternity rather than self and immediate gratification. We steward with wise management rather than simply consume. Thank you.

    1. Indeed Ms. Annie. It’s all about how well, and how wisely, we manage all of God’s blessings, isn’t it ma’am? God’s blessings my friend.

  16. It’s so honorable how you treat and care for the animals in your ranch! And I enjoy your stories and analogies. Your dad was a wise man, his sayings are powerful. Rich in friends and love and joy has a much better return on investment in this life and the next.

    1. How kind Ms. Karen. I often tell folks, “God gave man dominion over all the animals, not because He wanted us to abuse and use them, but He expects us to steward them by showing them His kindness and love.” It’s important to me to treat the animals here with respect and dignity. In my small way, it honors God.

  17. As believers and representatives of the Kingdom of God, we have a responsibility to be consistent and good stewards of God’s blessings and resources especially when it comes to outreach. We should always be proud of our work and know that God can be proud of us.

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