Posted tagged ‘Mason High School’

Mentors For the Journey

January 4, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      January 4, 2019


I’ve been blessed to have a number of mentors in my life that have allowed me to try and fail, hone certain skills, and pointed out my strengths and weaknesses. 

Dr. James Payson Martin, senior pastor of Arlington Heights (IL) First Presbyterian Church was my first mentor when I joined a church staff. He was gentle but firm. Grace-filled, but demanding. I was between my second and third years of seminary, looking for a summer ministry experience that would stretch me…and it did. Loved it and learned from it! Grew as I groaned! 

Jim Martin was the catalyst for my growth. His daughter, Cyndi, remains a long distance friend of mine (She still lives in the Chicago area). I get choked up thinking about her and her dad. Jim passed away suddenly the week of Easter about 30 years ago. 

And then there is Chuck Landon, my first mentor in a church ministry after I was ordained and on a church staff full-time. I had been on the staff of another church for about 15 months after seminary graduation and it did not go well. I was defeated and discouraged, wondering if I was really called to ministry. The senior pastor was rarely around to guide me. The rumor was that he spent more time on the golf course, which had one of its fairways rolling right behind his backyard. This “Wolfe” often felt like he was being fed to the wolves!

Lansing First Baptist Church rescued me from leaving ministry, and Chuck Landon taught me more about being a pastor than anyone else I have known. His work ethic flowed out of his passion for Christ, pursuit for excellence, and love for the people he pastored and community he served in. When I was willing to settle for less he let me know it was unacceptable. When I did something well he affirmed the excellence and effectiveness of it. When I wore my softball cleats (They were rubber cleats, okay!) to a Diaconate meeting in the pristine church parlor, he read me the riot act the next day! He taught me responsibility, and he taught me that perception, no matter whether it is accurate or not, is the reality.

Those two men mentored me to become a good pastor. They prepared me to mentor others to be good pastors, and hopefully those people will mentor others.

I’ve had other mentors through the years also in other areas of life. Don Fackler mentored me to a good basketball coach. When I assisted him in coaching the Mason (Michigan) High School Girl’s JV team, he laid the foundations in my life on how to coach. Now, more than 20 years later, I still find myself using some of those same learnings, and speak some of the same terms that he spoke. 

As I write more these days there have been a few mentors to bring my writing quality up. God has blessed me to have my life path converge with Ed and Diana Stucky. They’ve pressed me to not settle for less, to reach for quality and to be a wordsmith in conveying ideas. 

Mentors are essential for our development and success. If we learn in isolation we will experience the storms of being isolated. If we realize that we are “not all that!” and allow others to speak truth into the rough edges of our lives we will be better, and we will be better prepared to be vessels that flow with purpose!


June 26, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           June 26, 2014




My home study is populated with pictures. Pictures tell of what was, and provide sweet remembrances of times gone by.

Sitting on my desk in front of me is a framed picture of my granddaughter when she was two, dressed in the same red dress with white lace that her mom wore when she was also two. Reagan is staring at my when a smile on her face. If her picture came alive right now she could get whatever she wanted from her granddad!

Above her on the wall is a picture of the Mason High School Girl’s Junior Varsity basketball team that I helped coach in 1997. I’m wearing a sweet looking pair of khaki shorts and eye glasses that cover about two-thirds of my face. Eleven girls separate me from Coach Don Fackler, who is on the other side of the picture. Don taught me so much about coaching, and I miss him terribly. I find his voice coming out of my mouth so often in practice and at games. The girls in the picture have gone on to be moms, coach other teams, and develop callings and careers that we would never have imagined.

When I turn around the wall behind me is covered with team pictures of other teams I’ve coached through the years. Each picture is now still life, but my mind is flooded with memories when I gaze at each one of them. I remember the goofballs, the boys who would make me laugh hysterically, and the head cases that kept me awake at night.

Good teams! Bad teams! Teams that worked hard, and teams that didn’t know how to work.

At the top of the rows of pictures is my youngest daughter’s college cheer squad from University of Sioux Falls. She cheered for the Cougars all four years she was there and only experienced one defeat in football, that being one year in the NAIA championship game. The other three years they won the NAIA. She looks so fit and pretty in the squad picture. I’m a little reluctant to remind myself that she is my baby.

There are no wedding pictures in my study. For some reason those are confined to the guest bedroom, like a different exhibit in the museum.

Pictures tell a thousand stories and cause my soul to chuckle in delight.