Writer, teacher, and pastor Keith Matthews had the unique opportunity to teach beside Dallas Willard for 18 years. Pastors and students who had read Dallas would often come and say: We know his writing is special, but we’re here to find out if he’s for real.” 

In this episode, Nathan and Keith discuss Dallas Willard’s thoughts on character, his legacy, and the work being carried on through Dallas Willard Ministries, the Dallas Willard School of Kingdom Living, and the newly formed Dallas Willard Publishing.

[5:20] Tell me the story of when you first met Dallas.

He teared up when he read scripture. I felt like I was entering a candy store, he was the owner, and he was dispensing the candy out – candy he’d already tasted. Great teaching of ideas and thoughts of transformation, but that it was out of his experience that he taught from. He was the real deal. 

[9:05] What did you learn from him?

Character as primary. Character is different from giftedness. Dallas would say that gifts will only take you as far as your character will let you go”. One of the defining characteristics of Jesus life was that he was unhurried. John Wesley said that too, I’m always in haste, but I’m never in a hurry.” 

[15:54] What do you miss most about him?

I miss being able to call him up and ask what he thinks about what’s going on in the world, or a theological question. He was a brilliant thinker on a wide range of topics. I don’t think there was ever a question that he had not read something about the topic that he could impart. And I miss his presence.

[17:05] Thinking of the line when Jesus told his disciples that it was better for him to go, has there been anything good about his passing?

There is manifold goodness because of the seeds that he sowed. He was very generous to everyone he taught. Maybe now it’s a reset time, a time to ask what we can do differently, to ask what our current culture needs differently.

[19:30] Many people have picked up and are working with his work. Do you see holes or things that are lacking?

Evangelicalism has faded considerably – a message still built around conversion and atonement, and still don’t understand fully the idea of spiritual formation and our role in becoming holy. The culture has shifted.

[22:00] What does that look like for you living daily for Christ (on a personal level)

I try to practice developing a life around formational prayer, prayer that is engaging with the truth and vision of who God is in ancient prayers. 

[24:20] Dallas Willard Publications has recently been formed to try to preserve, protect, and proclaim the legacy of Dallas. 

Favorite Dallas Willard book: Divine Conspiracy 

Great Dallas book to start with: The Great Omission

[29:17] Dallas Willard School of Kingdom Living

We are beginning our first cohort of 30 people in a couple of months and is for those who want to read deeper in Dallas and have a community to do it in. 

Scripture References:

Being a fragrant aroma: 1 Corinthians 2:15

John Wesley quote: Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry; because I never undertake any more work than I can go through with perfect calmness of spirit.”


To learn more about Dallas Willard and the ministries mentioned during the podcast visit:

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