Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

May 16, 2010

Statesman, Scholar, Stimulator

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Statesman, scholar, and stimulator!  Those words truly describe Kyle M. Yates, perhaps the most influential man in my development as a minister and Bible student.

Adjusting to a new lifestyle, and yet still showing rebellion, I had been required to take a Bible course in college.  I had no particular interest in it, and if I make true confession, I failed the course.  Thus, I was required to take another.  With no special interest, I registered for one with a convenient hour.

The first day of class I was sitting with other students waiting for the professor.  Suddenly, a man walked in with such poise and dignity that I wanted to stand and welcome him.  His tall stature, flowing gray hair, and radiant smile captured me immediately.  If  I were to paint a picture of a president or world statesman, it would be this man, Dr. Kyle Yates!

From that first lecture and interchange, I was fascinated with the Bible and the study of it.  I could not believe that the Bible could be so alive.  It would not be difficult to be prepared for exams because of his teaching methods and his relationship with his students.  He would forever be one of the men God was to use in shaping and building my life and future.

Dr. Yates was one of the most learned men I have ever known.  Yet, he was able to reduce all the facts into such a flowing narrative that students felt they were walking in biblical times.  My assessment is not just mine.  He had long been recognized for his scholarship.

Dr. Yates served on translation committees in the publishing of the Revised Standard Version, the Amplified Version, and the Holman Bible.  He contributed to a multiple number of commentaries.  Yet with this profound biblical knowledge, he never chose to be a recluse and simply study and research.

Dr. Yates served as pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Houston and laid the foundation for the great church it is today.  He was a professor at Southern Baptist Seminary and distinguished himself across America.  But, Dr. Yates had a burning desire.  He wanted to teach young men and women in the prime of their life.  He thus made a life decision to become a professor at the college level, and the result was that he would become my mentor at Baylor University.

I call him a stiumlator for what he did in my life, and I am sure in many others.  His teaching and counsel truly fostered a spirit within me to communicate the Word.  He always had time to counsel, and often he would even initiate it.  He found great joy in encouraging and motivating.

A relationship with him brought many unexpected blessings.  One was to know Cecil B. DeMille.  Dr. Yates was enlisted by Mr. DeMille to be the consultant for the  movie, The Ten Commandments.  This resulted in a friendship that brought Mr. DeMille to campus.  I can never forget a remark that Mr. DeMille made in response to Dr. Yates’ comments about heaven and everlasting life.  Mr. DeMille responded, “If the grave was all there was after death, then life would be a cruel joke.”  That is a classic statement!

Many have said that we are all a product of those we have encountered.  I will certainly acknowledge Dr. Yates as one who is responsible for many of the positives in my life.  My desire is to be very mindful that I must do likewise in the lives of those I may teach or instruct.  I believe a verse from Malachi speaks of Dr. Yates.  May it also be said of you and me.

“True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing false was found on his lips.  He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and  turned many from sin.”  (Malachi 2:6)




  1. I ran across this quite by accident. When I left home for Baylor in 1969, I had two strict orders from my grandmother. One was to go introduce myself to Dr. Yates, the second was to do the same with Dr. White. Both had been dear friends of my grandparents for many years … in fact, they tried everything they new to persuade Dr. Yates to move to Los Angeles and pastor Temple Baptist Church. While I was never fortunate enough to be in one of his classes, he and his wife took me out for many meals over the years, and he was the perfect, Southern Christian gentleman. He had an amazing gift of being able to express his most scholarly thoughts so simply and clearly that even I could understand them, to the point that I would find myself enthralled. It was an honor and a blessing to have known him, and I am pleased to read about another life that he touched in a similar manner.

    Comment by Bob Compere — May 22, 2010 @ 11:42 pm | Reply

  2. Really decent post… I love it. Keep ’em coming… 🙂

    Comment by Jim M. — May 31, 2010 @ 4:02 pm | Reply

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