So much is said today regarding the nature of mentoring. I have had mentors all of my life, never in a formalized manner, but mentors nevertheless. I learned of the passing of one of my mentors, Dr. Bruce Taylor. Dr. Taylor became the District Superintendent of the Northeastern Indiana district while I was in High School. He was the DS when I received my first local ministers license. He was a big man, and if you did not know him and even when you did, he was a little intimidating. Like all leaders, some liked his leadership, others not so much. Count me as one who liked him, loved him and even admired him.
After graduating from Seminary it came down to helping a new start in Corpus Christi Texas, are going back home to Northeastern Indiana. I wanted to go back home, the Lord wanted me to go to Texas.
Dr. Taylor called me one day after I had been in Texas for some time and told me of a restart situation in Syracuse Indiana. He could appoint me, but he wanted Susanne and I to come and visit with the people and have a board interview. All went well and in March of 1984 we moved to Syracuse Indiana. I was ordained that year.
After we got settled in, Dr. and Mrs. Taylor came for the DS visit. He preached and they took us out to eat afterward. After lunch he asked to come by and see the home on Lake Syracuse that the church had rented for us. Susanne gave the Taylors a tour that ended in the living room. Dr. Taylor had us stand together and he prayed for us. I still hear his voice and his request that God would bless us and use us and keep us always close to the cross. I do not recall anyone else ever doing this, and the memory of it still touches me today.
Dr. Taylor had a program, I don’t think he ever referred to it as a program, but it was a program nonetheless. If you had been pastoring for five year or less, you came to the district office and he spoke from his heart and gave us great lessons on pastoring. At times he would invite a ‘seasoned’ pastor to come and share, much of the time he led the sessions. After the session was completed he would take us all to Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University) for lunch.
There were invaluable lessons learned. It was in this setting that I learned about my responsibility in the area of taxes and that I was to take it seriously. He told us how to fill forms for the IRS, how to make our quarterly tax and social security payments. He warned us to never borrow money from the ‘savings account’ where we were to hold our taxes until we sent them in. He made such an impression on me on the subject, that I know for certain he saved me from much heartache that comes from not taking this responsibility seriously. Other lessons concerning pastoral ministries were taught, I am thankful today for the lessons learned in these times together with Dr. Taylor and other young pastors.
Fast forward to 2003, September. This was my first Sunday at Detroit First Church of the Nazarene. The DS was going to install me that Sunday. I noticed as I dropped Susanne off at the door that there was a car with Missouri license plates on the parking lot. Upon entering the building I saw Dr. Bruce Taylor standing in the atrium. Dr. Taylor was on his way to Canada and stopped off at church. The world would call it a ‘coincidence’, I am calling it providence, a mentor from my past present on my first Sunday at a new church. Dr. Stephen Anthony the Superintendent at the time, asked Dr. Taylor to pray the prayer for us that Sunday. Kneeling at the altar Dr. Taylor placed his hands our heads and prayed a Dr. Taylor prayer. I do not have the capacity to tell you what that meant to me. If I close my eyes I can still hear him praying for us, our ministry and the church.
Lessons learned from Dr. Bruce Taylor:
1 We all need a mentor.
2 We all need an encourager
3 We all need a teacher
4 We all need a friend
5 We all need someone to tell it to us straight.
I am thanking God for the influence of Dr. Taylor on my life and praying that I will never forget the lessons, and that I might have the grace to be a blessings to some one today.