A Man’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do

Who Said It First?

“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”

It’s a pretty well-known idiom. It’s been credited to everyone from John Steinbeck to John Wayne. But who said it first? I have no idea. I’ve searched the internet – which is the fountain of all knowledge, correct? – and have found plenty of opinions, but no definitive answers.

John-Wayne-cowboyWhat I do know for a fact is that my own father used to say, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do when a man’s gotta do it.” That’s where I first heard it. My dad was my source.

But you’ve gotta admit, it sounds like something John Wayne would say.

From the Pulpit

I think the reason the “A man’s gotta..” phrase sounds so much like John Wayne is that it’s a statement only a real man would make. It’s the kind of thing a tough man, a rugged man, the kind of man that takes responsibility for his actions would say.

It’s also the thing a preacher might say. Not the milk-toast, yellow-spined, liberal, crowd-pleasing hireling of a preacher or pastor; he wouldn’t dare ruffle a feather. No, it’s the thing a John Wayne, Sam Elliot, Jack Bauer, of a preacher would say. It’s the thing my dad would and did say. It’s what I’m saying.

And if you’re a preacher worth you’re salt, you’d better say it, too…or a least a variation of the theme.

A man’s gotta preach what a man’s gotta preach when a man’s gotta preach it.

The Burden

Real men do what they have to do. Real men do what’s necessary, even when it’s not pleasant. Real men look a challenge in the eye, grit their teeth, and plow forward. Real men do things others are not willing to do, even when it hurts – because it’s gotta get done.

The Prophet Malachi was a man who had to preach what needed to be preached, even though no one wanted to hear it. It was the “burden of the word of the LORD” that he had to deliver to a people who’s worship was tainted, second-rate, and offensive to God. But it wasn’t pleasant; it wasn’t nice; it was the least seeker-friendly thing a man could say.

“How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.” – Malachi 1:10 NLT

What??? What did he say??? Yes, he said it. With true grit the prophet essentially proclaimed, “It would be better that we close the church doors and go home than continue with the worthless stuff we’ve been doing – God ain’t happy!

The Advice

Preaching the tough stuff isn’t for wimps. People may get mad at you. They may even try to shoot you – no joke. But if there was ever a John Wayne-like preacher, it was the Apostle Paul.

Imagine old Paul, dusty from a long cattle run, sitting on the ground and leaning back on his saddle, cleaning his Colt six-shooter. It’s late in the evening, the fire is crackling, beans are simmering, and Paul clears his throat.

Timothy…” he begins, then after a pause, “Boy, let me give you some advice: ‘Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine‘” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Timothy tilts his hat back a little to expose his forehead, then leans in and asks, “What will people think? It could get tough doing that all the time.

“Yeah,” replies the old Apostle with a nod and a painful, grimaced look that came from years of experience, “But sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” 


Filed under Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching

5 responses to “A Man’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do

  1. In my Opinion the pulpit is a place of sanctity. Gods words have gone out thousands of years ago and have significance in special ways. So, the Pulpit is lent by the Lord for his personal agenda and not ours. And when ours is not on the table one must look back at the schedule, at the diet that God has given you, not a particular issue in front of you.
    Being slow to speak, Prov 15 James 1, with bigger fish to fry fresh from Gods catch of the day is a better meal than someone trying to stiffen their back bone.
    In my opinion the list of preachables is first the cross, then what is faith in Christ, what is contempt and where is it in the bible. What is born again? and how does it show.. What is Christian conduct. and what is living in the spirit, prayer and bible reading look like. What is devotions.. Other topics like what is evangelism, what is our hope, Heaven, what are the guts of the covenant that we have in Christ and such are also good ones too. Hotter topics like gossip and slander can be target practice putting the person in the pulpit in a place of condescension. Its easier to let the water settle down and preach that sort of stuff under Gods leading not under the steam of John Wayne. Let love be without malice and without dissimulation expressing yourself through love.

    • I appreciate your comment and thoughts. I think context is key to this subject. There are times when even the simplest of messages can be fraught with danger for the preacher. So, like I said, it takes courage to stand up in front of a crowd and inform them there’s only One Way. Some people don’t like that, even when you tell it in love.

  2. I enjoyed your storytelling here. Blessings!

  3. Another thought, a thought I gave to a preacher a few years ago. While Preachers should try not to be controlling everyone finds their to be power struggles in church. One of the problems is, people see the hour or two they spend as the content of what the church amounts to. The Pastor sees a wider view because there is a whole week and people connect with the building and the pastor intermittently and it feels more like the church is Full time. (using the word church loosely) thats a whole subject on its own.
    But there is a sense that people show up to church on Sunday but are the aliens because they in a way are visitors to something that is continually happening, church or the Lords business did not stop when they left last week and started up when they walked in. (they might think so… )
    And there is this unity that can come as people get involved in projects that get them interacting with each other and with the Pastor. And when they are found in the building the Church takes on a life of itself sort of like a daily club.
    The problem is, there is this mix of persons all thinking they are in charge or on top of things and then people want to take the steering wheel of sorts or have opinions but are not the one doing the job and a list of issues come up of control and bickering and people feeling left out.

    Some pastors try and steam roller, some retreat, some ignore, some cause blow ups.

    What we did is let go to a point but also helped others to let go by changing things making it clear no one at church is the boss, Jesus is the boss. And while the Pastor has to be a choir master of sorts, its about consensus and the Lords will not ones person making all the choices.
    To get people free from themselves and their controlling nature, which is next to impossible. (everyone likes it their way.) taking control away from people by making changes will work but what is really being accomplished. What Gain is their if people let go. I would say the best thing is that people learn not to be self centred and to consider others.
    Do it someone elses way today day can work. Sing different songs, the ones the youth only sing. Or use different communion bread. Move the chairs around in church. Paint the front hall. Put up some flags. Change up the service and start with a responsive reading rather than a prayer or take it out side, Or God forbid, change the time the service starts. If every week something is do it someone elses way week, at some point people will get less stubborn and less self centred and remember why it is they come to church .
    And you know, Jesus dealt with this sort of thing, he was always shaking his head. I am surprised he didn’t have to see a chiropractor.

    I love what he said when he said, for it is for you to know these things but I am hiding it from others. And we can be let in on a big secret. Its not all about us. I know he saved that special lesson just for me. (and who else that might apply too.) as Paul would say, be careful that when you guys bite each other that you don’t end up consuming each other.

    I wonder if we had drawn up some sort of test where we would rate on the carnality side of how we operate. I think we might fail the test. We should test to see if Christ is in us. I hope so, but some might fail the test.

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