“They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” – Luke 24:32
Many years ago, when I walked on the quad of Mississippi College, I was often greeted and welcomed by one of my former mentors in the person of Dr. Van D. Quick whom we affectionately called, “Doc Quick.” Doc was the former Vice President of Student Affairs and understood his role to be a pastoral one. He walked the halls. He walked the campus. He didn’t know a stranger. He had an infectious smile and laugh that became, as many know, the very essence of Mississippi College for those many years he served there. The old man took time with me from the day I dropped off my application until long after I received my diploma. Doc would come in at 4am most mornings to finish all of his “VP work” so by 8am he could be with students for most of his day. One morning, me and a buddy knocked on his office door at 6 am (we’d finished an all-nighter of sleepless studying…because we were procrastinators) and were alarmed to see Doc hurriedly answering the door with a wet and reddened face as he rushed us out. It was then we learned that Doc spent most of those early mornings on his knees interceding in prayer for the student body. The man had been weeping for us in the spirit of prayer. Yeah, I was marked by that moment. He marked the lives of hundreds of us. The Lord called him home earlier this year. And because of Jesus, I’ll see him again.
The memory of Doc is fresh on my mind as this morning I met with another mentor who, like Doc, has marked my life over the years. There we sat at Panera dreaming, thinking out loud, laughing, and reminding ourselves of our hopes for God’s church and our roles within that hope. It was a breath of fresh air this morning when he said, as we were dreaming about the church, “I feel Ricky that when we go towards the direction of God’s church, we’ll feel His wind behind our backs.” I left this morning refreshed, energized, and, as the old folks used to say, “feeling like going on.” On the drive back to campus I kept thinking about and being thankful for the many mentors the Lord has sent along the way who’ve contributed much wisdom to my life and therefore have made me a marked man. They include my father and grandfather of course. But there’s my Uncle Dwight (RIP), Dr. Ron Howard, Bryan Loritts, Greg Wilkerson, Greg Waybright, Hamp Holcomb, and many many more. They, like Jesus did, have slowed down at times to deposit wisdom into my heart and I stand forever grateful…and marked.
The passage above came to mind as well. As my heart burned from the time spent with an older and wiser friend I thought about Jesus who left many a hearts burning after the time he’d invested into others. I love the rhythm of godly mentoring that this passage introduces. The resurrection had occurred that very morning. Jesus cloaks his identity to speak with two travelers discussing the recent events. Then, the rhythm occurs. Jesus listens to what they have to say. He shares what they need to hear. Then he serves them a meal and, in classical dramatic fashion, disappears into thin air. I think this is what a mentor does.
Mentors are good communicators. But they are better listeners. Their ears are open not just to our words, but to our hearts. They make what they have to say dependent upon what we have first said. They assume that they do not know what we need to hear until they’ve first heard what we have to say. I think a great mentor is slow to speak as the Scriptures say. A wise mentor will prayerfully weigh their pupil’s words in order to decipher where her heart is before jumping into pre-arranged communication. The gift of having the space to think out loud with a mentor is priceless…and for this mentee, life-changing.
In this passage, Jesus unfolds the Scriptures in a ‘truth in love’ way. I say this because what else makes our hearts burn as that of these men who walked with Jesus? Love without truth is passivity and dishonest. Truth without love is a pill no one will volunteer to swallow. A mentor never confuses this and ALWAYS makes her communication respective of both of these virtues. The next part is huge. What Jesus does here is lean into the authority of the Scripture in order to determine what he would share with these listeners. I hope you get it. We need mentors who have another authority than that of their own. We need mentors who lean so deeply into Scriptural wisdom that we can’t separate their own wisdom apart from the wisdom of God Himself. We need mentors who speak about God more than they speak for themselves. These characteristics make marks that last forever.
For God so loved the world that he GAVE. Here it is: LOVE…the godly sort…HAS to GIVE. True love gives. True love expresses itself. True love acts. It moves. It doesn’t stay still. It proves its words. A mentor will indeed serve. She WILL help. He WILL establish presence. A mentor refuses to see their role as a speaking role solely. Oh no a mentor, of the godly sort, will put words into action in some way. If our mentorship is bereft of action than it’s empty and meaningless and it will never make a mark.
The only part mentors can’t mimic is the disappearing into thin air piece. So yeah, nothing to say there. The rest of it is ours to begin emulating in the lives of others. I can never pay the mentor that I met with this morning back for all he’s done for me through the years. But I, indeed, will pass it on. I’ve been marked. May it be said I’ll mark others. To His Glory, Amen.