My boys don’t have grandfathers. As most of you know, my father passed away when I was just a kid. We lost Sunny’s dad nearly ten years ago. As a result, I’m always on the lookout for godly male influences for my boys. Thankfully, they are surrounded by a tremendous cloud of faithful witnesses — coaches, youth ministers, the elders of our church, members of our Baja mission team, etc. God has truly answered my prayers by putting so many good men in the lives of my two sons.
But I’m especially grateful for these two and the unique role they play in Joshua and Jackson’s lives.
Lee and I have worked side-by-side for 20 years now, from my time as Madison Academy’s campus minister through my transition to serve in a variety of roles at Mayfair. I was in my mid-20s when I first started working with Lee, so it’s fair to say that he has mentored me both directly and indirectly. I have learned so much from just being around him on a daily basis for two decades — he truly possesses the heart of a minister.
So I was overjoyed when I learned that Joshua would have the chance to work alongside Lee this summer as an intern for Mayfair’s Baja Mission teams. Lee was at the hospital the night Joshua was born and he’s been a constant source of encouragement throughout his life. And especially now, as Joshua is entering his Senior year, Lee looms as an important example of what Joshua wants to do with his life. His dream is to serve the church as a youth minister, just as Lee did for over 20 years at Mayfair. I attribute this dream to God’s calling on Joshua’s life, but also to the examples of people like Lee who have modeled love for the Lord and love for the church in a way that is both appealing and compelling.
I covertly snapped this picture while we were in Mexico. As we were in between activities one afternoon, Lee pulled Joshua aside and they talked together for a good twenty minutes. I didn’t want to interrupt, but I wanted to capture the moment for posterity. Joshua would later tell me that it was an especially important conversation to him: they talked about Scripture (Ephesians 2, I believe), ministry, life, and the future. When I saw the two of them having this conversation, I immediately thought, “This is what mentoring looks like.” I love how Joshua is just taking it all in. Drink deeply, son. You’re in the presence of a great man.
I also give thanks for Pat, who has taken Jackson under his wing these last few years. The two of them share many of the same interests: music, history, Greek food, archaeology, poetry, space exploration. And more importantly, they share an abiding respect for one another. Pat has been there to cheer Jackson on at his most significant cross country and track moments the past two years. They’ve shared countless hours creating music together — in fact, it says quite a bit that Jackson trusts Pat enough to invite him into the creative process of making music!
Last fall, Jackson told me he was especially excited about going on the Baja mission trip so he could watch Pat in action. Pat, a retired NASA engineer, has taken on a sizable role as the ministry leader for our Baja Missions work, coordinating annual group trips but also providing essential support to the leaders in our church in San Quintin. In addition to teaching on a regular basis at Mayfair, Pat has also served as an adjunct teacher at the Baja Bible Institute. This is a man who knows a lot and loves a lot. So I was ecstatic when I heard Jackson say that he couldn’t wait to see Pat in action on the mission field. And I think those observations have really paid off. I see Jackson following in Pat’s footsteps, quietly assuming more and more leadership as his awareness of God’s calling continues to increase.
This picture was taken at the Old Mill hotel in San Quintin where our group stays each year. I hope it is the first of many more to come. One day, I hope to fill an entire photo album with pictures just like this one, pictures of mentor and disciple serving side by side in the name of Jesus year after year after year. Pat, your investment in my son is making an eternal difference and words would never adequately convey the deep sense of gratitude I feel for you. This, too, is what mentoring looks like. Son, this is what I want you to become.
Today, this father’s heart is overflowing. Thank you, Abba Father. Your love endures forever.