When I was a teenager, I was extremely blessed to have a group of friends who did everything together. Jay, Frog, Rusty, Derrick and I were inseparatable. We could always be found at Pizza Hut during lunch, riding our bikes all over the neighborhood and searching for our next camping adventure. Our favorite place to spend the night was at Jay’s house. There are so many times that we would all end up piled up in the living room sleeping on the floors, couches or where ever we found. Jay’s parents did all in their power to always include “the boys” in their family activities.
Mr. Sarrett or “Champ” worked for the newspaper and he was in charge of the delivery department. Each year he would take his paperboys on a trip. In 1985, he took them to the Worlds Fair in New Orleans and the next year to take a historical tour of Vicksburg. Anytime there was one of these trips, he invited “the boys” to go along and we took him up on the offer. What great experiences I had with him.
There was hardly ever a wrestling match in Jackson that he didn’t load us up and take a car load to the coliseum.
When they would go on vacation, they would take both cars because of all the boys they would take with them. It didn’t matter if it was the beach or where ever, we always were invited to go with them. It was such a powerful lesson to love those who are your children’s friends.
Mrs. Sarrett still calls me each and every year on my birthday. I don’t think she has ever missed one.
Thanks for being such wonderful role models.
When I first started thinking about people who have had an influence on my life, the first person who comes to my mind is Will Dowling. Will was my youth director when I was in high school and he grew to be so much more than just a youth director, he became my friend. I remember Will hanging out at my house and watching movies with us. He would take us (when I talk about us, I usually mean me, Jay, Frog, Rusty, or Derrick) to wrestling matches and would even participate in our backyard matches. He was the older brother that I never had. When he decided to go to seminary, he didn’t feel that his calling of being our youth director was complete and so he would commute back to Pearl, Mississippi on the weekends. He would then drive all the way back to Memphis on Sunday nights so he could be in class on Monday morning.
So, how did Will influence my life:
- He showed me that you should know what you believe and hold true to those beliefs no matter the cost. He put this into action by only dating girls who held his same values. He did it by being the same Will wherever he went. He did it by allowing Christ to work through his life and I saw that in action.
- He showed me that friends hold friends accountable. I viewed Will more as a friend than a youth director, but I also knew that he had certain expectations of me and my growth in Christianity. He would be the first to tell me how proud he was of me, but also the first to tell me that I had fallen short (quickly followed up by how to make amends)
- He showed me that no matter how much time goes by, love never goes away. He demonstrated this when he drove several hours in the middle of the night to be with me when my mom was in a car accident. I will never forget that.
- He taught me that REAL MEN Pray.
- He also taught me how to disengage the emergency brake on a church bus. (He did not do a good job with this one, but I have never forgotten.
Never wear a hat like that on a youth trip because 25 years later, it will come back to bite you.
While there are so many people who I need to give credit for my answering the call to ministry, Will was the first one who listen and verified what God was doing in my life. I still remember where I was when I told him (going over the levee in Flowood by Leala’s house). Will brought a little bit of coolness to the thought of being a minister for a 17 year old.
Thanks will for all you’ve done in my life. I love you.