We Had to Ask: Jerry Jones
InsideOut: Where were you born and raised?
Jerry Jones: I was born in Tyler Town, MS. We moved to California when I was a baby. I lived there ‘till I was almost 13. Then, until I left for college at 17, I lived in the Tyler Town area.
IO: Did you go to Bible college?
IO: You went to secular college?
JJ: Yes. The University of Louisiana at Monroe is what it’s called now. Back then it was North East Louisiana University.
IO: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
IO: What does your wife cook that you absolutely love?
JJ: Well, I think its fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and English peas.
IO: Would you go to the moon, or go deep sea diving?
JJ: Well, I’ve been deep sea diving, and I loved it. I’ve never been to the moon, so I think I’d choose going to the moon.
IO: I’ve heard that your hero is Abraham Lincoln. What inspired you from him?
JJ: That’s a good question. I don’t remember when I did not read books about Lincoln. The first book I remember reading about Lincoln was a children’s book printed in the middle of the last century. It was heavy on pictures and light on text, but I do remember the impact it had on me. He fascinates me.
IO: What’s your favorite story about him?
JJ: I don’t think it’s just one story as much as it is his absolute sense of destiny and having a contribution to make. There were years of preparing himself and choosing to read law. I think sometimes people have the impression of the legal profession in the 1840’s and 1850’s in Illinois was that everybody read a few books and tried to practice law. The truth was Lincoln was surrounded by educated men in the east at Harvard and Yale. He was one of the few that had no formal education, and yet he was so well prepared that he became a leader, if not the most prominent attorney in the Illinois bar. It wasn’t just to be a leading lawyer. He always had a sense of “There will be a day when I will make a contribution, and my job now is to prepare for that”. To come from where he came from and to be ready at the moment of opportunity, when it was absolutely illogical to think he ever would have an opportunity. But he did. He made himself ready and probably became our greatest president.
IO: Do you have a hobby that not many people know of?
JJ: I don’t have a lot of time for any hobby hidden or otherwise. I think people are surprised when they find out I like to deer hunt. For some reason people don’t picture me doing that, but I like to deer hunt.
IO: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
JJ: You know I’ve been a lot of places that I really love. I think rather than an individual place, I’d have a hard time choosing between mountains and living on the seashore. I think I’d probably end up choosing living near the ocean.
IO: If someone wrote a biography of your life, what would you want the title to be?
JJ: He Tried His Best.
IO: Has there ever been a time where you felt like you didn’t know God’s will?
JJ: Oh, yes. One that stands out is when I had pastored in the New Orleans area for almost 8 years, and I began to feel that I would be leaving. I couldn’t understand it. We thought we’d be there the rest of our lives. So, I began to do what preachers do. I began to try to find the will of God. I actually went and preached at two churches that were looking for pastors, and the minute I was there I knew that wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. Then, another pastor friend of mine called about me taking the church he was leaving. All three of these churches were good churches, but I knew I couldn’t feel those. So, it was a very confusing time. I knew I was going to be leaving, but I couldn’t feel these good opportunities that came along. I knew they weren’t the will of God. So, my wife and I were totally confused, and that fall we went to the General Conference and I was elected to come to St. Louis as General Youth Secretary pretty much out of the clear blue sky. So, once it fell into place we knew, but getting there was quite a challenge.
IO: Our generation is dealing with issues like broken homes, homosexuality, stem cell research, and abortion on a daily basis. How do we keep our vision in tact?
JJ: You do what every other generation who survived their times did, and that is to keep your vision rooted in the Word of God. It does not change regardless of culture, society, or technology. The Word of God is eternal. It will not change even when the world no longer exists. It is forever settled. And so, by keeping our focus firmly on God’s Word we keep our vision in tact and connected with the eternal values rather than changing with the times.
IO: Wow. That’s what we need to hear.
JJ: Well, I came through the sixties when I was a young person. They were rioting and burning cities, protesting the war in Vietnam, and burning draft cards. It was the sexual revolution. Hippies, beatniks, and rock music were coming into their own. It’s when drugs took a prominent place in American life, and rebellion was “hip” as they would say then. There have been perilous times before, and every generation is called to meet the challenge of its day. The names of the issue changes, the technology changes, but the underlying human frailty never changes. Regardless of how it’s manifesting itself, the only anchor and unchangeable thing is God’s Word. Only when we genuinely commit ourselves to building our lives around the Word of God, do we have any hope of navigating through the challenges of the times. That’s what has kept the church through other evils and it’s going to keep us through this one either.