Mentioning my Mentors – Royce Williams

I’ve had a great time blogging about my mentors recently; it’s been therapeutic recalling and dwelling on the memories and the lessons they taught me.  That will certainly be the case today as I remember yet another person that I label a mentor, Royce Williams.

Surely I could write a volume on this man and it wouldn’t come close to describing the impact he’s had in my life; but I have neither the patience nor the time to write a volume, and people wouldn’t read it anyway, so a prolonged blog will have to suffice. 

I met Royce after I started dating Ramona, now my wife, for those who don’t know.  At the time Ramona was a member of Southside Baptist Church in Wilmington for many years and Royce was her “Youth Minister”.   I had only attended Independent Baptist Churches my entire life and was pretty uncomfortable with the thought of even visiting another denomination; but a pretty blonde was tremendous inspiration to try something new!

The moment I arrived Royce Williams made a point to befriend me.  I wasn’t the most outgoing guy to say the least, and being older than most in Ramona’s Youth group I was not looking forward to silliness that is some youth programs.  Royce seemed to sense immediately what I was thinking and knew exactly what to say to make me feel at home.  His humor kept me in stiches constantly, even though “I kicked the slats out of my cradle the first time I heard those jokes”.   But it wasn’t his great personality, his humor, or even his singing (and man can he sing!) that made the greatest impact on me. 

The thing that impacted me most about Royce Williams was how he lived his life.  It was obvious to me after getting to know him that he loved God and God’s Word, and that was the driving force in his life.  I watched as he steered the young people at Southside Baptist Church toward Jesus, not only through his intense Bible studies, but through the music that he sang and led them in, the compassion that he showed to people, and most of all his desire to glorify God in his life, even in difficult situations; and at times that can be the most testing time to glorify God.

I saw this first-hand on two specific occasions.  The first was when he was called to the preaching ministry.  Remember, Royce was the Minister of music and Youth (or as he called it, “Minister of Miscellaneous) at Southside Baptist.   Not only did he have a thriving Youth ministry, he was quickly becoming the foremost “music man” in Wilmington and surrounding areas.  There was no real reason for him to leave and go to seminary…there was no reason for him to leave what he had in Wilmington…except God had called.  He had a major decision to make that would have major implications on his family, his church, and himself for the rest of his life.  I watched Royce as he struggled with this decision and finally surrendered to God’s call.  I was extremely impacted, impressed, and encouraged by his desire to do what God had called him to do.    

Royce packed up his family and moved far away to study at Mid America Theological Seminary.  It was in the midst of his studies there that he would face an even larger crisis, one that no one, especially one in the “Ministry” ever desires to experience; yet Royce trusted God through it all.

What the trial was is not as important as how he handled it.  Initially, as we all would be, Royce was stunned by this turn of events.  To make a very long story as short as possible, Royce trusted God, sought guidance from godly men, and continued his theological education back in NC.  He has since pastored and spent many years in vocational Evangelism.  Through it all it was clear to me that Royce sought his strength from God and strived to glorify Him through those grim times.  During this, I watched intently and learned a tremendous amount that would help me when I faced major challenges. 

I must back up a few years…When Royce was a pastor in Roper, NC; he was the first to ask me to preach at his church.  I will never forget that moment…I remember it in great detail, where I was standing, which phone I was talking on (it was a wall phone with an extremely long cord…gave me the ability to pace), and how nervous I got when he asked me.  It completely overwhelmed me that someone would entrust me with their sheep that they were responsible for…truly an amazing thought to me.  I preached many, many times at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Roper thereafter.  The things I learned from Royce and his church during that period were and are invaluable to me and I am indebted.

Some other things I learned from Royce Williams include, a love of exposition of Scripture, importance of wisdom, laughing, integrity, family, ecclesiology…and I could go on and on…  Royce has been, is, and will continue to be a man that I pattern my life after and I am so very grateful for his investment in my life and the life of my family.  A simple thanks isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it will have to do until I can buy him a boat with a motor that runs, or a Martin guitar to replace that dadblame Guild!
Thanks Royce!!!
Categories: royce williams mentor scripture youth minister | Leave a comment

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