TBC Alumni Spotlight: Joseph Williams, Deputy Chaplain

As an adult learner, Mr. Williams transferred to TBC from Florida State because he felt a calling to ministry even though he was in law enforcement. It was important to him to be prepared for whatever trajectory his career might take.  At that point, Joseph Williams did not imagine being Deputy Chaplain for the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. In fact, looking back, he says this about the chaplaincy:

“It had never crossed my mind!  But when it was offered to me, I thought, well, I need to pray about this!  So, I might not pastor a church in a building, but in the chaplaincy role I sort of have a little church there – that’s my ministry.”

As the TBC Criminal Justice program grows, we are excited to have alumni like Mr. Williams who are already involved in that profession, blazing the trail for a new generation of alumni.

As a 2017 graduate of TBC’s Interdisciplinary program with a theology concentration, and now Deputy Chaplain of the CCSO as well, Joseph Williams shares with us his perspective on how a biblical worldview positively impacts law enforcement.

Mr. Williams, what prompted you seek an emphasis on theology when earning your degree?

I knew ministry was in my life so coming here (TBC) was a necessity in my mind.  You can be charismatic and spirit-filled (and that is definitely needed) but you have to be able to deliver it too.  You must know the Bible.  Going here for ministry was me saying “OK, God, there is a ministry that you’re going to give me.  I don’t want to lead them astray.”

From your perspective, how does a biblical worldview positively impact policing and law enforcement?

From a moral perspective it has a huge impact (provided, of course, that it is adhered to).  When you begin to look at this job from a biblical perspective you are held responsible for your own actions.  At the end of the day, you cannot say you didn’t know or didn’t understand such-and-such.  The biblical view says, “This is what Christ did – you have to do the same.”  It is how you live your entire life.

How do you navigate differences of worldview, cultures, and backgrounds?

I have to be open-minded, but also be firm in what I believe.  I have to respect the individual and what they believe.  If I disrespect them, why would they have an interest in what I have so say?  God can open doors anywhere.  If you see me strong in what I believe and still respectful you might end up asking me, “Why do you believe what you believe?”.  I am always learning.  I’ve reached out to rabbis, imams, pastors… I want to know how to help my inmates and get them what they need.

You are chaplain to both inmates and officers – what are the differences in your approach to each?

The major difference is that when I’m approached by inmates, I have to look for sincerity.  Because the minute I realize they are not sincere I have to change my approach.  You must be intuitive.  Some of them need a firm hand while other just need someone to talk to.

Can you describe the role that trust plays in law enforcement and as a chaplain?

Trust is a huge factor.  If officers don’t trust you they won’t talk to you.  And if you can’t talk to them you won’t know if here is an underlying issue they need help with.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of being patient.  People do not always open up immediately. I go to briefings and constantly put myself out there, letting them know I’m available.  Lately I have been getting more “Hey, chap, can I talk to you afterwards?”  For me it does not matter if they are big or small questions – they took the time to come ask and that means I’m making some progress.

Do you have any closing advice to criminal justice students at TBC who may go into law enforcement?

Stay connected to God.  That’s the main thing.  And if you’re a member of a local church, stay there. You are going to need the pastor and the men and women in that church!

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