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A Son Writes About His Father:
A Most Uncommon "Common Man"

By Mike Brauer

religion, articles, christianity

(Introductory comment: I sincerely hope that every reader of this journal will study the article below. The title explains its basic thrust a tribute to a very great man. His sister has been my dearly beloved wife for more than fifty-one years. I met James Henry Brauer when we both were in the seventh grade. I have never known a better person. Over a 62-year friendship we never had a cross word. I taught the gospel to him. I never - at any time - detected even the slightest bit of hesitancy on his part to accept any and all of the truth. Ordinarily, in our journals we see much more praise of well-known preachers than we do of great men who have served so well as elders. Surely Jim Brauer, elder, was a great and good man - a truly dedicated and faithful Christian. What better thing could be said about anyone? Please do read the heart-felt tribute by his son. I think it will do your heart good - Thomas B. Warren)

Any positive traits that I am fortunate enough to possess I first saw demonstrated in my earthly father. Of my many faults, I cannot name one that is due to negative influence from him. He was not perfect, of course; but although I will not argue the possibility, I do not expect to meet another man who is a superior reflection of the Savior in all areas of life.

He started life as a common man from a humble background. He completed it as a giant in my eyes, and, I believe, in the eyes of the rest of his immediate family, his grandchildren, kinfolk, and friends. He began his life with eleven years of knowledge from public schooling. (There were a only eleven grades back then.) He left it with the wisdom of a lifetime of prayer and studying and applying God's word.

He was reared in an honest and hard-working, but non-Christian, family (although his mother did obey the gospel soon after he did). But he had a conscience that would not ignore truth and the necessity of doing right. He told me that he tried several denominations, but that he could not reconcile their practices with God's word. In his late twenties, after returning from World War II, he spent some time studying with Tom Warren. Tom was his brother-in-law, and they had been close friends since the seventh grade in Carrizo Springs. When he was convinced that he understood the truth, he had the courage and strength of character to obey it without delay.

I never heard him berate or raise his voice to his wife, my mother. He often told me how intelligent she was and how well-respected. He would frequently tell me of compliments she had received from co-workers and acquaintances. He was especially proud of her for teaching the ladies' Bible class and the close relationship she developed with the younger women in the church. I never heard him belittle other people, except in a general way to warn me of sinful influence.

From my earliest recollections, I learned by observing him that racial, social, educational, and monetary distinctions have no bearing on individual character and worth. He had a heartfelt concern for the lost, the poor, and the unfortunate. His closest friends ranged from those with doctoral degrees to those with grade school educations. He lived his religion in his daily life. None would call him a namby-pamby, a softy, or a weakling. His fellow workers and friends outside the church knew where he stood, but I don't think he was ever accused of haughtiness or a "holier than thou" attitude.

I cannot imagine the word lazy being used in the same sentence with his name. It was rare indeed to find him sitting down during the daylight hours other than on a Sunday. He worked hard on the job and at home, and he made me work more than I wanted. He tried to teach me the importance of doing a quality job at whatever I did. I wish I had paid closer attention.

I remember an occasion, when I was three, when he went duck hunting with Clarence Carter. (Although I did not go on the trip, I was impressed by my Dad's report of it.) After that, he never went hunting or fishing without me. I cannot remember a single other instance when he went off by himself or with friends for his own entertainment or recreation.

His father died when he was eighteen. At that time his sister, Faye, and brother, R.C., were still living with his mother. He took on the responsibility of supporting the three of them. After Faye and R.C. were grown, Granny lived with us with all three children and Tom pitching in for her support. After fifteen years, Dad was able to provide her a house of her own next door. I never heard or saw any indication that he resented this or considered her a burden. I have never met a more unselfish man.

He never considered himself a polished public speaker, but he never stopped trying to improve. He recognized the value to the Lord's work of being able to express one's self well. He repeatedly urged Kaye and me and his grandchildren to strive to develop this ability. Although he was not comfortable with public speaking, those with anything more than a casual acquaintance with him "heard" some excellent living sermons. He had no inordinate ambitions in the realm of business. He was not deceived by the value that the world places on the dollar.

He sincerely enjoyed the work he did with his hands and the touch of artistry and ingenuity he was able to apply to it. There were opportunities for promotion which he allowed to pass in order to remain at the welding job he loved. Positions of power, prestige, and leadership were not of importance to him.

After repeated urging, he did agree to serve as an elder, after Kaye and I obeyed the gospel. He did so primarily because he honestly could not deny the need. I will leave it for others to judge his record of twenty-seven years in that work. In fact, the church in Liberty expressed their feelings in writing after his twenty-fifth year of service. I know that God will reward him abundantly.

I can't say that I remember hearing him tell me, "I love you." Some might consider this a fault, but there really was no need. I never doubted his love for me, and I possibly would have thought it a bit silly or contrived to thus state what was so obvious. The contrary possibility never entered my mind. Some people just do not verbalize their emotions and sentiments as much as others. His actions and attitude expressed his feelings so clearly and eloquently and continuously that they could never be misunderstood. Although I sometimes was angry with him when he would punish me or would not allow me to do something with my friends, I never remember thinking that he was being spiteful or did not have my best interests in mind.

I have often wondered how I could survive losing him. I can remember being chilled by this thought throughout my adolescent and adult life. I still don't know. In the words of his sister, Faye, he was as solid as a rock, and I knew I could always depend on him for support and advice and encouragement and exhortation.

He loved me enough to punish me when I needed it, and (now) I thank him for it. He often quoted scripture, especially from Proverbs, when it applied to a situation I was facing, but it did not seem to come across as "preaching." It was more like, "You're a smart kid. This is what's right, and this is what's wrong. God loves you and wants you to do what's right. Now why in the world would you allow yourself to do what you know is wrong?"

Whenever I intentionally did something wrong without his knowledge, I was always much more concerned with what he would think of me than I was about the punishment if I should get caught. With the exception of God's love, the greatest single deterrent to sinful, rebellious, or improper behavior in my life has always been my fear of lessening his esteem for me. Although I know he would never have stopped loving me, I shudder when I consider that I had in me the power to hurt him more severely than even the cancer which racked his body.

I am no writer, but I am the one in the unique position to relate these things from a son's perspective. They say that you should never say "never" or "always." Without realizing it, I have seriously violated that adage here. But looking back I find no reason to make changes. I will make no apology for the honor I desire to heap upon this man. Nor am I intending to be insensitive to those who may read this, by implying that mine was the only good father who ever lived. There are and have been other fine, God-loving men that I have known and loved. But I will not let this one leave this life without some attempt to convey to my children, family, and friends what he has meant to me. Could I achieve half his stature, I would be more than content.

I thank God for the supreme privilege of being his son as well as the son of Jim Brauer.

(Editor's note: In this issue of the Firm Foundation we stress the importance of the family. This eulogy of a godly elder and, of course, a great family man says much about the beauty of a household shaped by bible principles. We print it because James Brauer should be honored and because it is an impressive example for every human father. The Bible teaches "remember them that had the rule over you, men that spake unto you the word of God,- and considering the issue of their life, imitate their faith" (Heb. 13:7). "Let love of the brethren continue. " I, also, knew and was encouraged by this saint. - H. A. (Buster) Dobbs)

Published November 1992