Eugene Peterson – follower of Jesus, pastor, author, Bible translator – died this past Monday. He was a mentor to me.
But I never met him in person.
How can someone mentor another person without actually meeting face to face?
Peterson did it with me through his writings. I was introduced to his books early on in my seminary training, and once I’d read one, I couldn’t read enough. When his memoirs were published, entitled The Pastor, I felt like I knew him well, to the point that I actually wrote him a letter of thanks in response to reading his memoirs. I have no idea whether he got it, given that I had nothing more to put on the envelope than his name and the Montana town near which he lived, but it wasn’t returned to me, so I’m hopeful that he received it.
It’s valuable for all followers of Jesus to have mentors, and it’s certainly ideal for those mentoring relationships to be ‘live’ and face to face. But we can be mentored passively by people we’ve never met simply by reading their writings.
What giants in the faith have mentored you, either in person or through their writings? Among passive mentors, Peterson’s at the top of my list, and I’m comforted in knowing that he has now received his eternal reward with Jesus, whom Peterson described this way in John 1.14 (The Message):
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.