One of the things I have taught my students is that each one needs two mentors: one living and one who has passed on. I have had both. My living mentor was Dr. Avery Willis, a well-known name among Baptists worldwide. For some reason, Avery picked me to travel with him to teach MasterLife, a very popular discipleship process. He told me never to call it a “program,” because a program has a beginning and end; discipleship is a process, and it continues to grow. I have traveled overseas with Avery, watching how he walked out the faith under a microscope. I couldn’t have had a better mentor. Avery went home to be with the Lord in 2010.
A dead mentor is someone whose whole life we can study and evaluate from beginning to end. From them, we can learn how to respond in different circumstances, learning from both their strengths and weaknesses. I encourage students to find a dead mentor such as Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, Amy Carmichael, Lottie Moon and Mary Slessor or my favorite, George Mueller.
The story of George Mueller touched me early in my Christian walk. He was an incredible man of faith. He never requested financial help but through prayer, took his needs to God instead of men. He believed God would lay that particular need on someone’s heart. During his lifetime, he cared for 10,024 orphans by faith, and he established 117 schools that offered Christian education to more than 120,000. If you have not read his story, I encourage you to do so.
The way Mueller lived the last years of his life is my road map. After 39 years of marriage, his wife passed on. A year later, at the age of 66, he remarried and began traveling the world as a missionary, teaching the Bible until his death at 92 years of age.
I tell you all of this because I have recently been diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. The good news is that it hasn’t spread, and it is a treatable cancer. I will spend the next 18 months going through radiation and hormone therapy. So as I enter this season, I turn to my mentors to see how they would handle it:
I’m with you, B.J. No matter what happens, my heavenly Father is in charge, and that’s OK with me.