What does it Mean to be Noble?

So you guys know one of the things that I’m constantly looking for, Jeff, is we’re digging into what are ancient places where we can get wisdom. We spend a lot of our time looking at the scriptures, but there’s also other sources of looking at older cultures. And so I wanted to just share with you guys a quote, and let’s just think through this quote and what maybe we can learn from this ancient piece of wisdom. So Euripides, the famous playwright who really pioneered a lot of what we think of as just the different writing around plays and screen writing, he was pioneering that whole idea of comedy and tragedy. Anyway, he has a famous quote about a fatherhood, which he says, “Noble fathers have noble children.”

And in Athens they really spend time thinking through what are we noticing as patterns? They were extremely good at finding and describing patterns. And so much of how their culture’s influenced the world is their ability to do this. And this is a pattern they discovered, which was how you live, and your ability to be noble, really has a massive impact on your children. What does it mean to be noble? This is oftentimes a difficult word to describe, but the definition, like Webster’s, is just having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals. So when your children see that you hold a high standard for them, and then you hold yourself to that high standard, that is nobility, and that’s what impacts them. The opposite of this, you guys, is the dad who says do what I say, don’t do what I do. Right? That is the opposite of what it means to be noble.

Being noble is like hey guys, there’s a very high standard out there, and I am really, really trying to reach it. And this can be not just in areas of morality, but also in just dignity, right, in areas where you’re trying to level up our experience as a family. You’re trying yourself to really level up and meet a standard. Now you guys, we’re always going to fall short of standards. We need to gospel our kids constantly. And so one of the things that you guys know we always are trying to say, is that you have to really dial up both your standards and your support. The grace you have for your kids needs to be very at a very high level, but your standards also need to be very high. It’s very difficult to do both at once, and so we talk a lot about that, but I think that in this quote it’s really talking about sort of dialing up that standard.

And then saying something to you as a dad. And that is how your children perceive how you hold yourself accountable to the standards that you hold for them, is really what causes you to live nobly, and it also creates noble children. Or as it says in Proverbs 31 about that woman, she is clothed with strength and dignity, and I think that that’s a good description of nobility as well. And I think that’s also true for dads. We need to be clothed with strength and dignity.

And there’s always a visual I have. I don’t know if you guys remember, a lot of you guys have probably watched that movie Titanic. And there’s a really, I don’t know, Jeff, if you remember this image. It blew my mind, and it’s always stuck with me just as a visual. So as the boat was sinking, there was this sort of gorgeous place where they would eat, this estate area that all the wealthy people would gather to have their opulent meals. And while the boat was sinking, this very fine-dressed man walked into that room with his son, realizing that only a certain number of people would survive. He was hoping, of course, the women and children would make it out, but knew that many of the men would not. And so what he chose to do is he sat at a chair with his son next to him, who’s also dressed in his finest clothes, and basically said we’re going to just wait here to die, me and my son.

Wow. Yeah, I remember that.

And that always blew me away. Because you could tell that that flowed out of this multi-generational nobility, like we will not put ourselves above those who need to be rescued. We’re going to die instead. It’s like wow. There’s an old-world nobility that used to exist, that sort of almost ultimate version of chivalry that I thought was really an interesting display of that. But yeah, Jeff, how have you thought about this, noble fathers have noble children?

Yeah, we think about it the same, I think, yeah. And I think another way that we try to say it too is kind of, and this phrase can go sideways, so I think you have to be careful. But on certain things we’ll say hey our team doesn’t do that, the Bethkes don’t do that, that there’s kind of like a standard on the last name, right? Now usually when I said that goes sideways, it’s families that are more using that for the, and you see this in more kind of the classic character in movies and stuff of really wealthy people, of the shame, or kind of like a shame version of that. And so as long as you’re not going there, I think it’s actually a really helpful calling your kid up to type of thing. Because if it’s without shame, and it’s in freedom, then it should be calling you up to.

Like it’s hey we’re all trying to grow, we’re all trying to go to this standard. And then it kind of feels actually more like kind of people roll their sleeves up and say yeah we can do that, that we are. And so I think that kind of a last name having a tone or a legacy, or how they live out in the world, is kind of an aspiration I think more families should have that a last name represents. And this is true, it has been true, in business, right? I think businesses have done this really well.


Off like that you almost become sons who are adults, and are kind of under the legacy of their father, or daughters, in the business. That last name already is already loaded, right, either for good or for bad. And so I think that’s something that’s kind of very similar to this, of leaning into all being a team together, and all helping each other kind of raise the standard.

Latest Episode

Listen To Our Latest Podcast



Start Building a
Multigenerational Family Team

Live events







Family scouting report