Memorable Mentors are Worth Mentioning
Phil Shipe was a man of many talents. In addition to his success as a football coach, wrestling coach, and physical education instructor at The College of Wooster, he was an
accomplished artist, whose paintings on barn siding drew national acclaim. But Coach
Shipe’s greatest and most endearing skill was his ability to mentor young people, both individually and collectively. His former athletes and students had high praise and great
appreciation for the interest he took in them and the advice he provided for their lives.
I had the great good fortune to befriend Coach Shipe long after he retired. He invited me to his home and to lunch on a number of occasions. Our most memorable meeting came at the old Friendly’s Restaurant on Beall Avenue in the early 1990s. During the course of our conversation, he figuratively painted a wonderful picture of life and the importance of making the most of every day and every moment. I still think about Coach Shipe and the valuable lessons he shared with me and so many others.
Scripture provides great insight into the importance of mentoring, beginning with that iconic sixth verse from Proverbs 22, which states, “Train up a child in the way he [or she] should go [so that] even when he [or she] is old he [or she] will not depart from it.” We do, indeed, learn life-long lessons when we are young and impressionable.
It is also vital for us to recognize that we quickly grow from mentee to mentor. In II Timothy 2:2, we are instructed as follows: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men [and women] who will be able to teach others also.”
It is essential for us listen to and follow the advice of our mentors, but also to prepare to become mentors ourselves. I am reminded of the many mentors who have shaped the history and tradition of Oak Chapel, including Rev. John McLachlan, whose memorial service will take place tomorrow in Alliance. I never met Pastor John, but I feel as though I know him in some intrinsic way, and I am certain that I benefit from his teaching and mentoring to this very day because of the foundation he helped to build and solidify here at Oak Chapel, not only physically in his oversight of the construction of our current sanctuary, but also spiritually in the advice and counsel that he shared, which is being passed on to this very day.
Although I did not know Rev. McLachlan, I did (and still do) know Rev. Keith Bohley, and his teaching and instruction had an enormous impact on me. In fact, a very memorable breakfast meeting with him some 25 years ago (ironically enough at that same Friendly’s restaurant), set the tone for my entry into ministry. It was there that he asked me to lead a Sunday School class at Oak Chapel, and my ministerial journey developed from there.
Hebrews 13:7 speaks to the issue of those who have mentored us through this
wise instruction: “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and
considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”
Imitation, as the old saying goes, is the highest form of flattery. Let us imitate the lives of our ancestors so that those who follow us, will also imitate the guidance we provide, passed down by our mentors so that the church can continue to grow and flourish.
Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John