“But everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
One of the implications of Jesus’ words is that we would be wise to have multiple mentors. Here’s why: every human teacher is flawed. The best teachers and mentors have both fine points and flat spots. So those who learn from them will tend to mirror their weaknesses as well as their strengths. (All of us who are parents have been chagrinned to see some of our weaknesses picked up by our kids.)
One of the blessings of the Church is that it puts us in contact with a variety of people who can help shape us in a variety of ways. That’s one of the strengths of a school like Heritage as well. Different teachers develop different aspects of a student’s character and competencies.
I could produce a fairly lengthy list of people who’ve mentored me in significant ways. Let me highlight three who’ve shaped me in different ways.
My Dad. By far, the biggest mentor in my life was my dad. He (along with my mom) were my first and best teachers. Over the years I unconsciously assimilated and intentionally emulated much of his approach to life and ministry. He taught me what it meant to be a caring pastor. By watching him at work, I learned what it takes to help people feel welcomed and wanted, to show kindness to those who are hard to love, to blend and balance marriage and ministry.
Bill Lawrence. At Dallas Seminary I took multiple pastoral ministry classes from Dr. Lawrence. Bill is an excellent preacher and a strong, capable leader. He challenged my thinking in the area of leadership, showing me that godly leadership could be bold and risk-taking. He exhorted me to develop my leadership potential in new, faith-stretching ways.
Bill McRae. When we moved to Ottawa, I was able to connect with Dr. Bill McRae. Bill and Marilyn became dear friends and great mentors to Linda and me. Bill coached me on managing my schedule and family in the midst of a busy ministry. He modeled expository preaching and encouraged me as a preacher. In recent months, he’s given wise advice regarding my role as the president of Heritage (Bill had served as president of Ontario Theological Seminary – which is now Tyndale College and Seminary.)
My dad, Bill Lawrence and Bill McRae had much in common: personal godliness, spiritual vibrancy, seasoned experience and wisdom. But these three men have different personalities, perspectives and gifting. These differences made a big difference in my development as a servant of Christ. Multiple mentors have a multiplied impact.