Around my junior or senior year, a new English teacher arrived at my high school and also started attending my local church, along with his wife and soon-to-be growing family. His name was Frank Underhill and he was one of my first real mentors.
I was rough and not a very good candidate for mentoring, but Frank was able to make an impact. The worldview he exposed me to has largely framed my life and given me the tools to grow.
I’ve had several important mentors over my life. Pastors, college professors, friends, peers and folks younger than me each made a difference, but few made the impact of Frank who was willing to spend his time and resources on a crazy guy with a lot of rough edges, who could barely read. Thanks, Frank!
The other day I rediscovered the poem I have kept hanging on the wall in my office. You know how that works. Something once deemed important has been in front of you for years, but you don’t really see it anymore. Suddenly, BAM! There it is—fresh revelation. Frank gave it to me framed about 20 years ago, and it describes what he did for me and what I hope my church and I can do for others.
2 Timothy 2:2
The Bridge Builder
By Will Allen Dromgoole, 1860-193
An old man going a lone highway,
Came at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“there followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”