Anna and I have often reflected on how strange it is that the Church/Christians have to relearn the basic habits of community that seem to come naturally in other walks of life. Of course, the more I think about it, the more I believe that our whole society has forgotten these habits and that when and where they emerge is often an accident. When true community forms, whether it be around a shared interest, in a voluntary association, school, athletics or Church, we should count ourselves blessed to have experienced it.
All that is to say, things like mentoring are important. I came across this reflection on why every man needs a man mentor on–where else–the Art of Manliness. Notice where Brett McKay, who wrote this reflection, was when he met his mentor. Notice what he’d been asked to do. This is an example we should take to heart in our congregations.
When I was 15, I met a man who would have a profound impact on my life. His name was Andrew Lester. I first encountered Mr. Lester at church. He was the fun old guy that everyone liked being around. Despite being in his 8os, he had this boyish, mischievous look to him. He also made wearing a Breath-right nasal strip look cool. He wore them all the time. Mr. Lester was an artist by trade. His mother was a Cheyenne Indian, so his art focused on Native American motifs. A tribe called him the White Buffalo, and he made a really beautiful painting representing the name bestowed on him. I have print of it hanging up in my office.
While Mr. Lester dabbled in painting, his real skill was in sculpting clay. He sculpted mammoth busts of great people from history like Martin Luther King Jr., Jim Thorpe, and Western movie star Tom Mixx. When he wasn’t working in his studio, he volunteered in various community organizations aimed at helping underprivileged Native and African Americans. Mr. Lester was very active in the African-American community in Oklahoma and founded the Oklahoma African-American Museum Hall of Fame.
When I first saw Mr. Lester at church, I never thought he would become a mentor and good friend to me. But by chance, I was asked to regularly visit him and his wife to help them out around their home. Little did I know the impact this man would have on my passage into manhood.