Several friends and I have been reflecting on the spiritual influences that have shaped and directed us over the years. There probably is no time of life when our faith is shaped more than when we go to college. The influence of a college teacher is immense…and I was blessed to have several excellent influences.
I doubt I could name all of my teachers, but all of them had their own impact on my spiritual journey. I loved Don Jackson, Don Taylor, Bill Lambert, Ray Paseur, David Lipe, Fenter Northern, and others. When you go to a small college, the relationship between student and teacher is much more personal. I considered these men spiritual fathers. Their mentoring very much makes me what I am today. But I doubt any of them influenced my heart more than Cecil May, Jr.
Cecil and Winnie have a rich history of ministry in Mississippi and Alabama. There really isn’t any way to express my love for them and their place in my own personal history. Yes, I enjoyed brother May’s classes, and served MBC for two years with him as my employer. He and Winnie continue to this day to serve the young minds at Faulkner University in the Bible department.
But there’s another facet to my admiration. Over the years Cecil May Jr. could be found speaking in very diverse settings. He delivers papers to the Christian Scholars Conference. He preaches meetings for small churches and large. He is beloved by very conservative brothers and respected by less conservative ones. I think that he has a gift for engendering mutual admiration among brothers and sisters in Christ from various perspectives. And he has done this without compromising his convictions. He is not afraid to speak frankly of his beliefs in any context, even making distinctions with those who believe differently. But you will never sense unkindness or contempt.
I have witnessed situations in which brother May was under attack for his teachings – from very rude and obnoxious brothers. In a meeting in Grenada, Mississippi many years ago he remained composed and answered every question put to him. He knew that the transcripts would be posted in some yellow ungospel journal, but he patiently expressed his thoughts to each one – according them much more respect than they showed him. That’s a quality I have wanted in my own life, and at times have had opportunity to put into practice – though not nearly as well.
Scholarship, kindness, love for preachers and preaching, and someone who loves the church more than he loves himself….that’s the kind of man Cecil May is. I couldn’t help but be influenced by a man like this during my college years. I’ve had lots of conversations with him about things we didn’t quite see eye to eye on, and I never felt that he was looking down on me. I’m sure I’ve got a lot of learning to do, and I’m blessed to have been around such a teacher. If you are a preacher and you do not get his Preacher Talk paper, you ought to do that. In addition he directs the Bible Lectureship at Faulkner University and you can find information about that HERE.
As an added blessing, I remain friends with Cecil and Winnie’s children. Each of them are delightful and adore their parents. That says a lot.
Thanks for reading,