Summary: Following Paul’s example, we should invest our lives into the lives of others through mentoring and discipleship with the aim for multiplication.
I want you to think back to your childhood and specifically to your early church experience. Many of you may have attended Sunday School, VBS, Awana and other children’s activities as a child. If church attendance was not part of your childhood life then think about the elementary school you attended.
Now do this. Identify in your mind one or two memories that really stand out from all others in your childhood, whether good or bad. What is it that you remember the most about going to church or attending school? Now let’s do a quick survey.
• Raise your hand if you remember a craft that changed your life? Crafts can be fun and cool but rarely are they life changing.
• Raise your hand if you remember a particular Bible story or lesson from school that forever touched you? Again, these are important but are not what we tend to remember.
• Raise your hand if you recall a special event or field trip that was a top memory maker for you. Events, both good and bad, do play a significant role and often are when major life decisions are made. But I’m willing to bet that the last choice is the memory most of us have.
• Raise your hand if your most vivid memory was a person. It could have been a teacher or a pastor or a friend. It could have even been a bad teacher, pastor or friend.
As we think about the defining moments of our life most often they center on a person. Ask me my story and I would tell you about George. The Rev. George Reese was my pastor from the age of 0 – 13. He was a compassionate man, full of energy and always had a smile on his face. He was the reason why I wanted to learn to play guitar. He would, on occasion, bring his guitar out during Sunday morning worship and do songs like “He’s Got the Whole World” and “It Only Takes a Spark”. One year he took the time to show me how to play a song for a church camp talent show. Ultimately, as a Jr. High kid, I would tell my parents that I wanted to become a pastor someday and this was due to George’s influence on my early life.
I would also tell you about Dr. Hunt. Paul Hunt was professor of trombone at a nearby college. In 6th grade I began to play trombone started excelling on it. As an 8th grader I attended some college concerts and met Professor Hunt. He took me under his wing and for the next 4 years would teach me the trombone inside and out – for only $10 and hour. Granted this was almost 20 years ago, but even for then that was a great price for lessons with a college professor. He invested in me. He helped me through some very difficult musical issues of which are still paying off today. He also cared for me and desired to see me succeed.
These two men were mentors to me early on in life.
As I became a Christ follower and grew in my faith, I didn’t always have someone there to disciple and mentor me. And looking back, I realize how much that would have helped me avoid some major mistakes. But as I continued in my journey, other men eventually came into my life. Jerry Fliger, a youth pastor at a church I was attending, asked me to become a youth sponsor and then invested in me as we worked together to serve the youth. Later on, he would be the one to marry Summer and I and he and his wife became our pre-marital counselors and our first marriage mentors. Their investment help establish strong foundations for our marriage. Mark Blake, a senior pastor, was skilled in the art of leading worship and mentored me in constructing worship services which gave glory to God and edified the church.
In seminary, Alan Mezger, a church elder and chairman, mentored me as I myself became a leader in the church. Terry Boyle, my pastor in Dallas, and his wife, took Summer and I under their wings and mentored both of us into becoming a solid partnership in ministry, praying for us and encouraging us so that when God called us to Cary, we were nervous, but confident in His empowering strength. They still pray for us to this day.
The list goes on as we moved to Cary. Pastor Don, Omar Sutherland, Pastor Doug Friesen, worship pastor at Crystal Lake Evangelical Free Church, and Glenn Jorian have all served in a mentor role to me as I started full time ministry work.
Of course, it goes without saying that I consider my own father and mother as mentors. Their mentoring was not in something specific, but in general, practical living. Naturally, out of anyone, they have invested the most in me, through their steady love, adoration, discipline and encouragement. Their work ethic and faithful stewardship of the blessings which God has given them will always be a mighty example to me and has positively affected the choices which I make in my own life today.