This week one of my mentors passed away. I won’t be attending the funeral. I haven’t gotten choked up thinking about it. There’s no need to pass on your condolences. You see, I never actually met this mentor of mine. His name was Dallas Willard. He was a pastor who became a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California. He went on to write several books, one of which impacted me powerfully. It is called The Divine Conspiracy. It was a book about the sermon on the mount and how Jesus came not just to ransom our souls from Satan, but to radically change the world by introducing a new kingdom. The Trinity conspired together to start a new world order called the Kingdom of God. I learned from this book that life in Christ is not just a spiritual transaction (Christ’s death for our sins), but a beautiful, new way to live.
Anyway, you hear a good helping of Dallas Willard in my preaching. My ideas about ministry are influenced by this man who was himself influenced by the Holy Spirit. I read a story that someone shared about Dallas Willard this week. A friend asked him about his greatest fear in the ministry he was doing. Willard responded immediately: “Willard-ites.” In other words, he was afraid that people would follow his teachings instead of Jesus’ teachings. All of us have many spiritual mentors in life. Some of them are very close to us, like parents and pastors and older adults who invest in us. Other mentors are people we don’t know personally, like authors and speakers and bloggers. The best mentors have this in common: they point us not to themselves, but to Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate mentor. He may work through parents and pastors and authors, but in the end all spiritual growth and transformation is the result of being mentored by Jesus.