Week 1: Who Are Your Mentors?

Back in the 1980s I was given a solemn responsibility that I’ve never forgotten. Seven of us were vested with the authority of approving or disapproving others for ordained ministry within the Presbyterian Church.

Throughout my tenure nearly 80 people came before us for scrutiny. After examining only a few of them I became convinced of the veracity of two questions for determining the success or failure of a candidate’s future pastoral ministry.

First, “Who are your mentors?” And second, “When it comes to preaching, who are your models?” Would it surprise you to know that very few could answer either of those questions?

Now, after 36 years of ordained ministry, and more than 1,600 sermons, I am more convinced than ever that one’s answer to these questions will largely shape the effectiveness of one’s ministry inside and outside the pulpit.

In these weird days of CV19, and the waning months of my time at Hebron, I thought it might be a good time to share with you a few of mine. Now, if you’ve been listening to me over the last 30 years, you have heard about them. But perhaps you’ve never heard them speak for themselves. So here goes.

The first one is Ben Haden of Chattanooga, Tennessee. I used to listen to him nearly every Sunday as a young boy. Years later, when I lived in Miami, Florida in my mid-20s, I attended the church he used to pastor. I met so many people that knew him and loved him, just like me. Here he is in 1971 giving his testimony in Chicago at a Billy Graham Crusade.

Next week I’ll introduce you to another one of my mentors.


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