I gave my life to Jesus as a young child in the second grade at Greystone Christian School in Mobile, Alabama. I am forever grateful to my spiritual mother — Myrna Locke — my second grade teacher who lead me in a prayer of salvation that would ignite my journey of faith and forever change the life of a little clueless country boy. Once I reached sixth grade, I began attending Northside Bible Church in Mobile (mostly because my older brother Lyn was chasing girls who also attended there.) Northside's ministry in my life kept me away from the party scene at my high school campus — University Military School — where drugs and alcohol and immorality were rampant. Northside's family taught me to love people from all walks of life. Northside helped to change the trajectory of life from being career-minded — wondering how much money I could make — to being "other-centered" and focusing on how I could bless those in my local community.
At the age of 17, as a senior in high school, I received "my calling" into full-time ministry. During a Sunday night service, I was so moved by God's love for all mankind, and so longing to see Him work, that I went forward at the altar call. I told my pastor, David J. Jones, that God was calling me to be like him and to do what he was doing. Brother Jones took me under his wing for the next few years, and helped me get to Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham, where I spent four awesome years learning about the treasures of the Word of God and the richness of real faith. While in college, I served as a youth pastor for Trinity Baptist Church in Ensley, Alabama. After college, I served with the Vestavia Christian and Missionary Alliance Church for seven more years as youth and assistant pastor. When the Christian school at Alliance merged with another nearby Christian school, I was compelled to move with the students and become part of the staff at what was now Shades Mountain Christian School. I was soon hired by the Shades Mountain Independent Church as the official College & Singles Pastor. I served there just over 14 years until I received a calling from the Lord to return to Northside Bible Church, where I now humbly sit as Lead Pastor in David Jones' old office. I have served and continue to serve here as the Lead Pastor of Northside.
Somewhere in the last year of Bible College and the first year of full-time work at Vestavia Alliance, something clicked. By "something," I really mean "several things." First, I saw that the academia I had been soaking in for four years was more than scholarly knowledge. It was truth and life and it was based on God's Word. Secondly, God led me to teach through the Gospel of John with my youth group and grace began to sink in deeper and deeper. For the first time in my life, I understood that God didn't just love me because I made good choices or because I kept the rules. (My military school and Bible college had many rules.) In fact, His love that was real to me as a second-grader was now 10,000 times stronger. Jesus loved me for me. The Perfect, Holy, Creator and Sustainer of Life, the Holy Lamb of God, loved Stanley Dallas Givens. He didn't love me for my behavior or achievements. He even loved me when I failed and messed up. It was then that His love and grace wrecked me for good. More than thirty years later, I cannot help but weep when I sing songs about grace and the cross. How He loves me is truly beyond my comprehension, but I will rejoice in it, highlight it every chance that I get, and continue to teach others about it as often as I can.
In 38 years of ministry, I have seen God do amazing things. I have watched as country boys from rural backwoods Alabama traveled to Romania to preach the Gospel and teach the Word of God to students who were behind the old "iron curtain," and had never heard sound biblical doctrine. I have seen families on the brink of divorce come to the Lord for help and find strength, hope, and accountability with the local church. Later, those same families were successfully teaching young couples how to survive hard times in marriage. I have watched as single men and women who were lost in sexual sin and were confused about sexual identity finally repent and find their joy and strength in Christ. In prison ministry, I have seen men on death row profess that they have "real life" for the first time because the grace of Christ has saved them. I've seen goofy, troubled teens stay under a healthy church's ministry long enough to transform into godly church leaders and pastors. I have seen people healed of cancer. I have seen young career-minded singles walk away from big salary job offers to go and serve the poor on foreign mission fields around the world. I have met and served with a few men who were so like Jesus that I can never forget their impact on me. And for 38 years of ministry, I want to say as clearly as I can: I have no regrets. Please read on.
Now, in 38 years, I have also seen other things. I have seen my closest friends forsake the ministry. I have seen men who were dedicated to ministry — men whom I trusted and served alongside — abandon their families, leave them in a mess, and choose to "move on." I have been fired from a church and rehired in the same day. (This might be a great story I can tell in an upcoming podcast.) I have been followed for six weeks by a private detective who was hired by a church leader attempting to prove that I was not who I claimed to be. I have been accused of ruining a church by changing the bulletin covers. I have been falsely accused of stealing the letters from the church's roadside sign. (What on earth I needed with a shoe box full of three-inch tall plastic letters I'll never know, but if you find them, please let me know.) I have been falsely accused of having a "spiritual affair" with a church member. I have been blamed for nursery leaders and music leaders who chose to leave the church. I have been told by fellow leaders that I would never be a good pastor. I have been told that I do not preach loud enough. I have been told that I don't care enough about the people of the church. I have been told that I care too much about some of the people at the church. I've been told that I focus too much on the youth. I've been told that I don't focus enough on the youth. I've been told that I spend too much time helping the children's ministry. I've been told I don't spend enough time helping the children's ministry. I've been accused of being a heretic, a narcissist, and a hypocrite. (All of those within the last three years of ministry alone.) And, for 38 years of ministry, I still have no regrets.
In fact, I want to encourage other pastors who have similar wounds, battle scars, and "bullet holes" to hang in there. Contact me throughout this website, follow me on social media, and let me find ways to help you hang on and to be strengthened for the "good work" that you were called to do. (Ephesians 2:10)