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The Importance of Being Mentored

The Importance of Being Mentored

In my life I have had many people who have taken special interest in me and, in turn, have shaped the leader and person I have become. 

Basketball coaches. 

History teachers. 

Academic advisors. 

Church members. 

This last week, the church I serve lost one of its patriarchs and I lost one of those many people. 

As I was thinking back on all of the time we spent together, I noticed some common themes to the ways he shaped me – some things that are important about being mentored. 

First, he pursued me. 

On my first Sunday at Reynolda, June 27, 2004, when I was introduced as the new Assistant Pastor for Family Ministries, Bill met me at the back door and invited me out for breakfast. 

I had just graduated from seminary 6 weeks earlier and he said he was going to buy me breakfast to, and I quote, “get all of the seminary thinking out of me!” 

We would go on to have many serious talks about theology, marriage, parenting, leading, teaching. He was always shaping my private devotion to and public proclamations about Jesus.

Second, he wanted me to be a life-long learner. 

We gathered many, many times over the last decade in our back booth and almost always he would bring something for me to read and consider. 

As I tried to count this week, I found 31 books Bill had given me with notes about what he hoped I would learn. 

Third, he was so generous to me. 

We had a dance we would do together. I would insist on paying for breakfast, yet as our meal was coming to an end, Bill would insist he needed to go to restroom. As he rose, he would gently slip the ticket off the table and pay on his way back. 

We did this dance each time and I don’t think I ever paid for a meal. 

Finally, he was committed to my family’s health. 

My wife, Merri, and I had a very difficult time conceiving our first child. Merri had grown up at this church and she was very close to Bill and his wife. So, we asked them to be on our prayer team to pray for us on that emotional journey. 

For almost two years every time we saw either of them, they assured us they were “praying for our ‘new addition.’” 

Merri and I may have had moments of doubt that it would ever happen, but Bill and Jan never did. 

Finally, we were pregnant. 

Because I planned to tell my own dad in person, the first people I called were Bill and Jan Rice. Jan answered the phone and I told her to put me on speaker phone. I shared the news with both of them and I heard Bill shout from the kitchen, “Praise Jesus for Baby Lawson!”

To celebrate, Bill and Jan bought Baby Lawson his first travel bag embroidered with his name. 

Baby Lawson, named Adam, is now almost 14 and he was riding in my car when I found out that Bill had passed. I wasn’t sure he would know who I was talking about without some context. 

But I was wrong. 

He simply said, without even looking up, “I am glad he is home with his wife.” 

Aren’t we all?

Chris Lawson

Founder of, husband to Merri, father to Adam, Ellie, and Zachary, and executive pastor @reynoldachurch. Lives to make Jesus famous. He enjoys watching the Atlanta Braves and UNC basketball, as well as demeaning and insulting whatever sports teams you root for. He knows a disturbing amount about television and movies.

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