In his splendid brand new biography of Dallas Willard, Gary Moon in Becoming Dallas Willard: The Formation of a Philosopher, Teacher, and Christ Follower, Moon tells a story of Dallas Willard’s struggle to determine his future: preacher/pastor or professor?
He had been reared and nurtured and formed mostly at the feet of Southern Baptists but his gradual exposure to other voices — like C.S. Lewis and Charles Finney and Thomas a Kempis — had broadened his interests.
Including a growing, simmering, burning and explosive interest in philosophy and realism (GE Moore, E Husserl). Following some years at Tennessee Temple and some pastoring of small churches, he and Jane moved to Madison where Dallas eventually took a PhD in philosophy.
In his last year or so he was pastoring two Congregational churches and then he graduated and decisions pressed upon him: What to do? Pastor or Professor?
In my Open to the Spirit I have a chapter on God’s communicating with us (even today) through prophetic words/utterances, and so as I read this I wondered what you would say to this question: Is this an example of a prophetic word?
Dallas was in the throes of a dilemma. He had been standing at a fork in the road for over a year. Well, actually, he had been trying to take both paths at the same time.
Even as some of his favorite dishes of steaming food were being passed around the table and under his nose, his mind was far away.
His host and good friend, Earl Aldridge, noticed that Dallas was only present in body. “Where are you tonight?” Earl asked.
“Oh, excuse me. I didn’t realize I was lost in thought.”
“What’s on your mind?”
“Well, I simply cannot decide which way to go. I love being a pastor, and I love being a professor. How do you pick between two things you love?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” Earl said. And that brought Dallas fully back to the table, and also grabbed Jane’s attention.
“If you go to the church, the universities will be closed to you,” Earl said. “But if you go to the university, the churches will be open to you.”