It Takes a Mentor
This Sunday we will confirm eight young people in our church. Each confirmand had an adult confirmation partner, which has been the practice of our church for some time. One of our adults, who grew up in the church, once told me that their confirmation partner was a "mentor for life."
I also have had many mentors. My grandmother Rosemary was my hero growing up, and when my parents separated she taught me how to take it one day at a time and let me know that my parents’ problems were not my fault.
I worked for John D. Moseley, former president of Austin College. He instilled in me a passion for public service. I sat at the foot of the former president of Austin Seminary and a child of this church, Jack Stotts, watching him always put the common good of the institution first.
One of my greatest mentors was Walter Johnson, my liaison to Greater Atlanta Presbytery. He had many, many years of pastoral experience and wisdom and in retirement settled in as a pastoral counselor. He was tall and thin with wire frame glasses and asked good questions that could not be answered quickly or lightly. When he smiled, his face lit up. He made me want to be a better person than I was.
After seminary, Walter wrote me letters well into the years of my ministry. They would just show up randomly, no rhyme or reason. But then, just after Walter was diagnosed with cancer, he wrote the last letter I would ever receive from him. Part of the letter read:
"The church budget is important, paying the light bill is a requirement, the church meetings are a necessary evil, but there is something more important – have you loved today?
Is ministry something to get done? Or have you related to and cared for those you have come into contact with today? How about your wife and children? Have you taken the time to tell them how much you love them? Have you thought about how precious the gift of life really is? How have you loved today?"
Walter was one of the wisest persons I have ever known, and his questions are ones that will always be with me.
Have I loved today? How have I loved? Who have I loved?
Thank God for all of the mentors in our lives.
Rev. Brent A. Barry is the lead pastor of NorthPark Presbyterian Church. He encourages readers to join the conversation by leaving a comment or emailing him at the church.