A Mentor’s Wisdom: Lessons I Learned From Haddon Robinson, by R. Larry Moyer
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Hendrickson Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
I came to this book at somewhat of a disadvantage, in knowing nothing about Haddon Robinson, the raconteur and mentor who is the subject of this book nor anything about the author of the book, an evangelist who also happens to be a prolific writer. Both happen to have written books on homiletics, a subject of considerable personal interest, but I have not come across either of their books on the subject yet . In reading a book like this, I figure I am going to have some disagreements with the author/subject and their perspective, and that was certainly the case here, but I wish to determine whether or not I would enjoy having a long dinner conversation with the person writing or being written about. In this case, the book passes the pot luck or dinner test, and if I find areas of disagreement given our perspectives and worldviews, at the same time I find a lot to enjoy here as well.
This is a very short book that I managed to read nearly in its entirety while I was waiting for my table at the local Olive Garden for dinner, finishing up while I was waiting for my salad and breadsticks to arrive. Perhaps the book was not meant to be read in such a fashion, but it is 100 quarto-sized pages that can fit comfortably in one’s trouser pockets that contains 45 short reflections of the author on the mentoring and counsel he received from Haddon, followed by some photos of the mentor before his death. The reflections are divided into several categories: life lessons, work counsel, spiritual advice, public speaking and preaching, leadership, and evangelism. The reflections, moreover, show some consistent trends, including an appreciation for the importance of humility and appreciation of others, a tendency to make witty remarks that reorient the way that one looks at familiar scriptures that may have even become stale. The author and his mentor both appear to have been people who took sin very seriously but were gracious towards sinners, an attitude I have always sought to develop within myself, and the reflections in general are colorful and likely to be thought of highly by those who knew the late Mr. Robinson.
One gets the sense in these passages that mentors can have a very important role in the success of others. For one, they can loan some of their reputation to such people–who had better take that loan seriously, as the author does–to help new leaders get a start in demonstrating solid fruits. For another, they provide plenty of insight and knowledge into the sort of life someone would want to lead but has not arrived at yet. Whether we are looking at people just starting out who want to see what a successful marriage and ministry look like to those who are looking for advanced education and starting their own organizations, mentors can provide a great deal of understanding in how to make things work through not only their advice but also–perhaps even more importantly–their example. This book gives plenty of demonstration in its short length of the influence that Haddon Robinson had on the author, and that influence appears to have been a good one. The author even includes, perhaps most touchingly, the letter that Robinson had written when the author was a new graduate first looking to make his way as an evangelist, a favor that the author appears to remain grateful for to this day. That poignancy and gratitude makes this an enjoyable book to read.
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