A Mentor’s Life-Changing Impact – Part 2
In Part 1 of the story, you saw how my mentor was a MODEL for me. You saw ways he would ASSIST me. Now, in Part 2 of the story, let me tell you about how he would WATCH me and then LAUNCH me. You’ll be convinced of his life-changing impact.
As one of George Patterson’s interns I got asked to introduce him at a speaking engagement. I went up to the platform and began by saying, “To look at him, you might imagine he’s just an ordinary guy. But actually Dr. George Patterson is radical!”
Next, George walked across the stage to stand with me. Turning to the crowd he calmly said, “Yes, some people do call me radical.” Then he leaned forward, staring, eyes wide. He continued, “But some others call me dangerous!”
Dangerous? Out of Control?
Years earlier, a missions executive came to the field to visit George. He was from the same organization George served with. His purpose was to see him at work. He observed how soon new believers were brought into the work. New fellowships quickly reproduced other new fellowships, led by simple, local people. The executive sat him down. “George, I am concerned. If you keep trusting these people with so much responsibility, things will get out of control!”
I imagine George’s face must have lit up with a huge grin as he answered, “Exactly! That is what I hope for! I want it out control. Out of my control—and in the control of the Holy Spirit. Jesus will lead them.”
WATCH: George Watched Me Progress
He was a model disciple-maker, a model church planter. He showed us through example. He assisted me in putting it into practice myself, in a way that worked for me and the people I was trying to reach.
He didn’t just give me teaching or training. As I mentioned before, after the 3-day training I’d received months earlier, I told George, “I think I could do this.” He responded with, “Well you can’t….”
I discovered he was correct. Training by itself would not have been enough. George took the risk of investing in me. He offered to stay involved with me if I was willing to put what I learned into practice. He was willing to stick with me as I followed through with what I would hear and see. He came alongside. He modeled and assisted. Then he watched.
From A Distance
He watched Dan and me work. He watched the Holy Spirit work. And he stayed out of the way. Like a football coach watching players from the sidelines. Weekly, we sat together with him. He had us think back and tell what we had done and what happened as a result. There were often milestones he would celebrate with us.
After our progress report, he helped us decide what we would do next. We looked at options. More than once we had doubts about the next steps. On one occasion, he encouraged us to ask Mr. G to lead the upcoming Bible Study for his visiting family and friends.
“Mr. G lead? Are you sure? He isn’t even a believer yet.” Dan and I probably said the words in unison. How could this be a good plan? (To get a better picture, here’s the story for you: https://www.ywamfm.org/trusting-new-believers/)
George patiently replied, “Mr. G will follow your example and lead the Bible Study the way you did. The others will see him—much to their surprise—as a spiritual leader in their family. He will begin to realize he does believe. It will not be long before he and Mrs. G decide to follow Jesus and to get baptized. Watch.”
“Okay, if you say so. We will do it.” If you took time to read the story, you’ll be smiling right now.
With a notepad in his hand, George wrote out this new action step Dan and I decided upon. Using a sheet of carbon paper, he kept a copy our action steps for himself. We knew he would bring out his copy next time we met so we could review.
He watched Dan and me step-by-step. He trusted us to put into practice what he had modeled. How empowered we felt knowing he believed in us. We were all-the-more inspired as the number of believers grew and a new fellowship born.
LAUNCH: George Encouraged, Commissioned, and Launched Me Into New Leadership
Fast forward a few years.
Pioneer, cross-cultural church planting became a growing focus in the lives of many fellow YWAMers. The Lord sent lots more teams into unreached people groups. George’s influence increased throughout our global Frontier Missions network. This was especially the case in South Asia. Our leaders in that region invited him to come run 3-day workshops in different cities.
He was willing to go, as long as I came along to help with the training. Once again, my mentor had way moreconfidence in me than I did in myself. “Let’s go together. Kevin, you know YWAM, you know many of these people, and now you know how to train them.” I was open. I especially became hopeful when we discussed an important idea. We would offer follow-up coaching for people after the training.
Mumbai, Calcutta, Varanasi, Kathmandu, training future disciple-makers who would reproduce local disciple-makers. People who would plant simple fellowships that would reproduce more simple fellowships. Together we trained them in a practical, down-to-earth, Jesus-style way. Just like I learned from him. Only now, George often sat on the floor in a circle with the trainees. With them, he listened to me, an expression on his face that cheered me on.
In Kathmandu, it was the final day of the workshop, and the final day of our time in South Asia. During these weeks, George told me he must limit the time helping YWAM Frontier Missions. He had commitments with the organization to which he was a member. Other mission groups were also asking for his help. It was time for me to take more responsibility.
Passing Of The Torch…For Real
We agreed things needed to change. On that last afternoon, George brought up a plan while we were meeting with the YWAM leader for Nepal. He was my good friend and the one who hosted the workshop. George explained to him, “During our final dinner this evening, here’s what I want to do. I will pass the torch to Kevin.” He asked my friend, “Then would you commission him in prayer?”
Was I ready to take more of the role in training and coaching? Sensing God’s peace I agreed. All our Nepali trainees gathered outdoors for our delicious meal of Dal Bhat. As we finished, I noticed George was gone. Then our host stood up and announced that George was about to pass on the torch. Kevin will help lead the ongoing training in cross-cultural disciple-making and church multiplication.
Suddenly, striding out from around the building came George. He carried a long branch with a burning rag tied to the tip. A huge flame approached me! Everyone laughed and clapped. I was then commissioned with the laying-on of hands and prayer…after they safely put out the fire. I felt the launch into a new role. It was a role George continued to help me with for years to come. Helping from the sidelines.
George Launched By His Own Leader
Earlier this year, my mentor’s family and friends were forced to say goodbye to him. Tears are in my eyes as I type. Even approaching 90 years of age, George continued strong. He still had his energetic enthusiasm, constant encouragement, practical love, and practical jokes. Along with the sadness, I have a sense of joyfulness knowing he has got launched too: into the loving arms of Jesus. The One he lived his life serving.
My heart is grateful for my mentor’s life-changing impact upon me. Jesus knew I needed a mentor to walk along side. George’s influence made a world of difference. I urge you to find a mentor or a coach. Who is someone who could come alongside to help you to learn, to do, and to be.
What About You?
George Patterson’s impact upon my life inspired me to look for ways I might do the same for others. What are ways you might walk alongside others? How would you encourage people to take next steps toward God’s purposes? What if God wants to use you as a mentor, or a coach, or a supportive & purposeful friend?
Good news! There is help. I co-authored a new online course focused upon this very theme. It equips ordinary people like us. You’ll develop simple, practical skills to engage in purposeful conversations. The Book of Acts tells us Barnabas was the “Son of Encouragement”. Learn skills to make you a bit more like Barnabas–encouraging other’s growth in godly character and Kingdom service.
The course is called: Encourage Them All: How to Walk Alongside Next-Generation Leaders in Life-Changing Conversations. Take a look: https://ywamfm.teachable.com/p/encourage-them-all
Having a mentor helps you get better at accepting feedback in two ways: one is through practice, and the other is through having a setting. That’s why Leeds built a mentoring pipeline that spans a student’s entire four-year experience.