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.
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.