June 13: Dallas Willard, US, Philosopher
by Blake Mattocks
Published on June 15, 2024
Categories: Inspiration

June 13: Dallas Willard, US, Philosopher

June 13. Dallas Willard. Dallas served for 45 years as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. He was also a Baptist pastor and wrote world-rocking books about what it means to be a Christian and what spiritual disciplines are all about. Dallas didn’t argue. He didn’t put people down. He didn’t have to have the last word. And the man never hurried. Here’s a story about one thing he did do.

When a man keeps his word, lives are changed.

It was 1985 when Dallas committed to travel across the world to speak to men he had never met. For no pay. For an undetermined amount of time.

Dallas first received a letter from a South African man named Trevor Hudson—a Methodist minister who had been jailed with Desmond Tutu. They had protested apartheid—the government-driven system of discrimination, segregation, and unfairness based on skin color and facial features, which led to people who protested the system being brutally treated and arrested.

After he got out of prison, Trevor got mumps and was quarantined, and that’s when he discovered Dallas’s philosophical teachings on audio. As Trevor recovered, Dallas’s teachings resonated with him—especially the teachings about how a man could live aware of God’s presence all the time.

Once he was well, Trevor asked Dallas to visit him in South Africa. But there was a catch. Trevor didn’t have money to give Dallas for the flight or hotel costs, although he could try to raise money for the flight. He couldn’t even guarantee an honorarium for his services. All Trevor could offer was a sofa in a small sewing room at his home, and that the audience would be a few pastor friends for Dallas to teach.

Dallas didn’t take long to answer. He delighted in helping his students on the University of Southern California campus where he taught, so why would it be any different on the other side of the world?

He wrote Trevor that he would be delighted to go to Johannesburg. As for the payment, Trevor didn’t have to worry about providing it.

After a twenty-five-hour flight, Dallas arrived in South Africa. He stayed with Trevor and listened intently to his friends who would come to Trevor’s house. For three weeks, Dallas shared his wisdom and listened to his audience’s concerns about all that had been happening in the country. In between teaching sessions, he prayed for the people individually.

But it wasn’t only empathy Dallas shared. Into this time and place of brutality, where human life was demeaned, a place where people who stood up for the dignity of life were arrested, Dallas brought with him the joy of the Lord.

Singing hymns, showing photographs of his family, talking with the Lord in the middle of the night—Dallas’s joy was contagious. His contentment and intimacy with the Lord had become second nature to him. Dallas’s demeanor made a profound impact on Trevor, who had seen much suffering under apartheid. He wasn’t used to seeing a Christian have such joy and open communication with God, and it started Trevor on a road of healing. He started to understand the joy of the Lord.

At the end of the three weeks, when Dallas was set to return to the United States, Trevor surprised him with an honorarium for the conference. Dallas accepted the payment gratefully, but before anyone could find out, Dallas took the money and gave it to one of Trevor’s friends who worked in a poor area of town.

After all, he had told Trevor not to worry about the payment.

Both Dallas and Trevor gained something profound from the experience. Dallas gained a new friend, someone he would even trust to critique chapters of his upcoming books. Trevor not only gained a friend, but he got a new view of God. Dallas had asked Trevor, “Is your God gloomy?”

That’s when Trevor realized that his viewpoint had to change. God could empathize with suffering, but He could also be full of joy despite the hardships. Even the Gospels showed just how happy Jesus could be!

To Dallas, there were no strangers in the kingdom of God. And despite having a career based on words, his actions did as much teaching as any of his lectures or his books.

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV).

Has someone else impacted your walk with Christ? How can your actions speak life into others? When a man keeps his word, lives are changed.

Moon, Gary W. Becoming Dallas Willard: The Formation of a Philosopher, Teacher, and Christ Follower. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2018. Kindle.

Moon, Gary W., ed. Eternal Living: Reflections of Dallas Willard’s Teaching on Faith and Formation. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2015.


365 Christian Men is a project built on some basic truths about God and His character. God cares deeply about each man, and He has a specific purpose for every man’s life. In fact, God wants to tell His stories through the lives of His men. These very short stories are about men who have fought their battles, are overcoming their obstacles, and are using the lessons they’ve learned to help others. Discover more about 365 Christian Men.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from Christian Grandfather Magazine

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading