What is the role of a mentor? I know I would not be where I am without the men who have invested their time and wisdom in my life. Every day I see the fruit of the seeds they sowed.
Bob E. Cooley and George O. Wood were two mentors that have forever left a mark on my development, not only as a leader, but as a father, husband, and friend. Over the years, I had the honor to sit across from these men to listen and learn from their brilliance. Even when I only understood a portion of their wisdom, I knew that I was being invested in by two leaders who truly cared about me and the mission God had for my life.
Bob could see the future in ways most couldn’t. He easily grasped and understood history, culture, anthropology, and emerging trends while intertwining them with archaeological profundity. He taught with a humble yet confident attitude and modeled seamlessly what educational leadership should look like. Bob always pushed me to steward my leadership in a way that honored Christ, which is still a priority for me.
George was a door opener and a bridge builder. He challenged, defended, and discipled me for 35 years. Uncle George, as I affectionately grew to call him, imprinted on my father, on Kim and me, and on our life and mission. I can point to pivotal moments throughout OneHope’s history when he was there, sometimes in person, but more often by the words he had spoken over me.
The times I have stood before presidents, ministers of education, or people of incredible wealth and influence, the Holy Spirit has reminded me of Luke 12:11: “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say” (NIV). In these particular moments, it’s the Holy Spirit’s guidance and confidence that poured into me, but I heard it all in George’s voice.
It’s often the voices of my mentors like George and Bob that I hear when I feel afraid or insecure or lack the confidence to trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding. Through their prophetic words and faithful mentorship, the nearly 2 billion children who have received God’s Word over these last three decades are recipients of their love and investment in our lives.
Kim and I have established a new vision statement for the next 20 years of our lives: to Build Young Leaders and Serve Great leaders. This is a mentoring mandate. Having learned from those that have gone before me, even now I can still hear their voices challenging me through guidance, comforting me, and emboldening me. That is the role of a mentor, and I commit myself to always be a bearer of their mission to the world.