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Leaders

CELEBRATING MY MENTORS.

Imagine 7 men and their wives sharing a weekend together in a special reunion to celebrate four decades in Christian ministry. Forty years had passed since that night when they were recognised or ordained as Pastors or, as one of them said, they got their "revs up" and went out to save the world!!

Over the weekend we plunged into the pool of nostalgia and played and laughed and listened as the years were turned back and memories engulfed us. What a great time!  Sure, we had aged, raised our families, changed our physical appearance (some more than others) but for those few days we rehearsed the faithfulness of our God and the privilege we have had to serve Him as shepherds of His people.

The weekend triggered for me memories of the many, many people who have invested into my life, including those guys that weekend. College lecturers. Youth leaders. Fellow Pastors. The list goes on.

But one memory came back that I did not expect. This is how that memory surfaced.

Over the weekend we each had the opportunity to share about the first sermon we had ever preached. As it came to my turn, I recalled my first sermon was as a 15 year old and it had to do with "The Great White Throne Judgment" based on Revelation 20/11-15. Now who, in his right mind, would allow a 15 year old kid loose in the pulpit with a subject like that??

Well, his name was Alec Holgate. He was a lay preacher in the Methodist Church (as it was then) to which I belonged. Apparently he saw in me potential that I did not see in myself. He would take me with him sometimes when he was preaching elsewhere. At first I simply kept him company. Then he began to involve me in the service. I would lead the Church in the Bible Reading for that night. Then I was asked to lead the prayer. Then I was asked to do both. In due course when he thought I was ready (as well as the unsuspecting congregation!) he let me preach.

I think back to that night and I shudder! Humanly speaking that should have been the beginning and the end of my "preaching career"!! I can't recall any of the content but I knew that, to be a true preacher, I had to thump the pulpit at least once during the course of my presentation. By the good graces of my friend, Alec, and the longsuffering of that little congregation, they did not give up on me.

Then, without any warning, Alec entered hospital for what was a routine procedure, contracted an infection and died.

I recall attending his funeral and lingering by the graveside as others dispersed. Standing alone, I prayed something like this: "Lord God, please let the mantle of ministry that was on Alec now fall on me". I must have had some awareness of the Elijah/Elisha relationship (2 Kings 2/11-15) to have prayed like that. Even so, there is no way of knowing just what impact that day had on my life.

I look back upon that season and realise that Alec was mentoring me. I don't know if he would have called it by that term. I know I had never heard the word. Yet that is what was happening. And I have no doubt that the reason I am committed to mentoring others is to be found back in those early days of my Christian journey.

Over the intervening years there have been others who have spoken into my life. Many others. I think that the very recent death of my most current mentor gives energy to these recollections and empowers me to renew my commitment to this highest & humbling of all calls - the privilege of investing into the lives of others.

It is one way I can respond to the Lord's directive....

"I don't want anything I have taught you to die with you. Pass it on."

 

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