How working on a Texas ranch in my youth taught me Christian discipline

Estimated read time 4 min read

Young men need role models in addition to our fathers. They can be shaped by their experiences with their family, school, church, friends as well as in an early part-time job. Each generation is tasked with preparing the next generation on how to live. In the Old Testament and the New Testament there is considerable attention given to preparing persons to become contributing members of society. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up the child in the way he should go; and even when he is old, he will not depart from it”.

The late Harod Judson Brady

Mr. Harold Judson Brady, Navy veteran and former wildcat oilman who then became a successful businessman, was one of the most amazing people I have ever known. He was stern but forgiving, commanding but understanding, was probably the most confidant and self-assured person I have ever met. He had a colorful vocabulary and was always clear in his messages. Although the work was hard and sometimes took up a lot of our free time it no doubt kept us out of trouble that teenagers can often find. We learned how to overcome obstacles and deal with new challenges literally every day. Planning, analyzing, and not giving up if there is failure at first were instilled in us.

Beginning in 8th grade and continuing through high school one of the most character forming experiences of my life was doing ranch work at the Brady ranch on Montecristo Road in north Hidalgo County, Texas. At the strong urging of my father who believed in hard work and his friend Mr. Brady, his son Bob, my brother, and myself embarked on a journey. The ranch raised Beefmaster cattle breeders. Prior to this I had no agricultural experience being suburban kids growing up in McAllen, Texas. Suddenly we were thrust into cutting and making hay bales, working with cattle in squeeze chutes, and raising feed crops. We learned to operate all sorts of heavy equipment like tractors and trucks, to brand cattle and fix fences.

Texas brush country is very dry with little rain so irrigation is absolutely necessary. We grew alfalfa in traditional furrows on uneven land. Irrigation releases to farmers and ranchers were strictly regulated and could come in the middle of the night. This meant on a Wednesday night at 2am we could be out doing an irrigation. Because the land was not well leveled we used devices the locals called “lunas” which was a board with a waterproof canvas attached to divert the flow of water. As the water flowed into the field we would be running around in the thick mud that quickly formed moving the lunas around to insure an even distribution of water. At the beginning we knew nothing of the lunas or how the field would flood. We had to learn by trial and error and gradually gained experience over many times to get good at it.

Mr. Brady passed in 2016. His obituary said “He possessed a strong work ethic and was a tireless worker always enjoying a good challenge. Jud loved the outdoors, hunting, flying his private planes and most of all, being with his numerous and faithful dogs.”

Years later I like to think that a lot of what I learned at the ranch helped taught me some important lessons. In whatever you do if you are serious about it, you have to dedicate yourself to do it well by learning about it, preparing for it, and finally persevering until you succeed.

Saint Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in Christ Jesus in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.”

Professor Tony Magana

Dr. Tony Magana is Professor Emeritus in Neurosurgery who spent many years doing international teaching and research including 10 years in Ethiopia. Over the past 15 years he concomitantly intensified his Christian faith through study and worship through the Episcopal Church. He grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Attended Texas A&M University, Harvard Medical School, and trained at the University of Miami. Additionally he took the University of South Education for Ministry as well as attending the Southeast Florida Episcopal Diocesan School for Christian Studies.
Professor Tony Magana, a seasoned neurosurgeon, has not only dedicated his life to medical practice but also embarked on a profound spiritual journey. Over the past 15 years, he has deepened his Christian faith through study and worship within the Episcopal Church. His experiences span international teaching, research, and a decade of service in Ethiopia
Dr. Tony Magana’s writings blend faith, compassion, and wisdom, inviting readers to explore the intersection of spirituality and the human experience. His journey serves as an inspiration for those seeking deeper connections with faith and humanity.

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