Through his distinguished career as a pastor, professor, and theologian, Dr. Haddon Robinson (1931–2017) mentored and raised up many powerful men and women of God. In a moving tribute to him, Dr. R. Larry Moyer, founder and CEO of EvanTell, reflects on the forty-five most significant lessons he learned from his friend and mentor in the book A Mentor’s Wisdom. The lessons in A Mentor’s Wisdom testify to the enduring influence of a pastor and teacher dedicated to training the church to build the kingdom of God.
To celebrate Dr. Robinson and to give you a sneak peek into this powerful book, we have elected to share the following excerpt from a section in the book labeled “Work Counsel.” As you’ll read below in this particular passage, each section includes a quote of Dr. Robinson’s that Dr. Moyer personally heard, a Bible verse, and then Dr. Moyer’s own personal reflection on the quote. Enjoy!
“I have learned to put everything that happens in my life in a minor or major column. What has surprised me is how few major items there are.”
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt. 6:34)
Part of what made Dr. Robinson’s mentoring so effective is that he not only spoke from a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, but also from his life experiences. He was quick to admit things he personally had to learn, and this transparency touched me.
There are times I saw him deeply moved by difficult situations he had to deal with, but nothing seemed to unravel him—not even the things that would unravel most people. He knew what it meant to take a day at a time and rely on God for strength.
For example, one day I walked into his home when he was looking over a bill he had just received for his son’s college expenses. I could tell he was a bit stressed because he was also caring for an aging parent, and at that time faculty salaries could not support both of those financial burdens. What I admired and appreciated was how he never tried to cover up his true feelings, yet was in no way out of control of his emotions. He was putting to work his own words by not letting his circumstances affect his treatment of others or his perspective on how they affected his life.
It wasn’t until he made the above comment that I began to understand how he managed to do that. The practicality of his words arrested me because I was at a point in my life where, upon reflection, things that I had considered “major” were not as major as I thought they were. I realized that Dr. Robinson had shone a bright light on what worry-free living is all about: knowing how to relegate things to the right column. God wants us to cast even the big things in life on his shoulders (1 Pet. 5:7). What helps, though, is realizing how few big things there are. College expenses in the long term are a minor issue, compared to having a mate diagnosed with terminal cancer. A “fender bender” is of concern, but seeing a house go up in flames would be much more concerning. A child who procrastinates should concern us, but not necessarily as much as a child spending time in prison.
Matthew 6:34 is a favorite of many. Unfortunately, many miss the context; the passage assures us that if God takes care of his creation—like the birds of the air and lilies in the fields—he will also take care of us, his children. While we certainly ought to be concerned about things such as food, water, and clothing, we cannot let those things become all we think about. If God takes care of birds and lilies that do not serve and love him as humans do, then he will also meet our needs.
With all that—and more—in mind, we can develop that kind of mind-set by asking ourselves, as problems arise, “How big is this, really?” Then we should put each one in the right column. With thoughtful contemplation, our minds will put all our problems in perspective, and we’ll begin to see that others have faced issues that are far more major than ours. This shift helps us recognize that while something may change our weeks, our circumstances are not life-changing. Put your worries about what has happened in light of what could have happened. Enjoy each day by putting everything in the right column and refreshing your perspective on each issue. I think you’ll find, as Dr. Robinson did, that most things aren’t as major as they initially feel.
For more information about A Mentor’s Wisdom, feel free to visit our website.
Also check out David A. Currie’s personal reflection on Dr. Robinson in this moving blog post.