Six years ago I had the privilege of joining other ministerial alumni of Blue Mountain College (http://www.bmc.edu) in honoring Dr. James Travis. Retired after teaching for 36 years, Dr. Travis influenced several generations of young pastors through his faithful, enthusiastic friendship and instruction. He was the first mentor many of us had in ministry. In my own life, Dr. Travis…
- * encouraged me to make a firm, clear commitment to the ministry;
- * sent me out on my first preaching assignment to a little church in north Mississippi;
- * recommended me for my first staff position in a church;
- * taught me (and many others) how to perform a baptism;
- * preached at my ordination; and
- * helped me settle into my first pastorate.
What he did for me was not special–he helped hundreds of young people get on their feet, get back on their feet, and stay on their feet during critical times in their lives.
I had someone take my picture with Dr. Travis during my visit to the campus. But for as long as I have been in ministry, he has been “in the picture.”
Dr. Travis passed away in 2005. I didn’t have an unlimited amount of time to tell him what he meant to me.
Paul was right when he said we do not have many “fathers” in the Lord. I have been fortunate to have had several over the years. Saying “thank you” to those men has become increasingly important to me as they age and as I realize the impact they had on me.
Being the youngest of six children, our daughter Abigail has many models around her to draw from when learning her way through this world. As a result, she has developed faster than the other children in many ways — both positively and negatively! :-)
This is a family secret to rapid, solid growth — and it applies to our work of building saints too. Business people call it “mentoring”; Christians call it “discipleship.” We are encouraged in the Scriptures to draw from older Christians (“spiritual elders” or “Pauls”) life lessons that we can, in turn, pass on to younger Christians (“Timothys”). For men the key passage is 2 Timothy 2:2; for women a central passage is found in Titus 2. Both ministries are often neglected.
One of our men in our church approached me about entering into a mentoring relationship. I was absolutely delighted, knowing that God will always fill a thirsty heart. This man is on the grow and is tapping into one of the growth principles of the Scripture.
God has blessed me personally with 2 mentors who have invested their lives in me. In my first pastorate and throughout my ministry those men have protected me (through wise counsel) and prayed for me again and again.
We will grow more… we will grow faster… if we will embrace, pursue and model a biblical form of life change and development.