THE PERSON WHO MODELLED TO ME THE KEY TO GROWING
Dr Robert Munger with Rod and Sue in Pasadena USA 1991
The first principle of mentoring is “the attraction of the mentor to the mentee.”
I was first attracted to Doctor Robert (Bob) Boyd Munger when I was a student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California where Bob served in the esteemed position of Chaplain to the Faculty. Prior to that he was the professor of Evangelism and Church Renewal. In addition, Bob taught an adult Bible study class at nearby Lake Avenue Congregational Church where, with my family, I attended church. We joined this weekly Bible study class on a Sunday morning prior to attending one of the various church worship services.
Bob was the author of the book My Heart – Christ’s Home which he first preached as a sermon in 1954. About 10 million copies of the book have been printed over the years which led one writer to say that it was possibly the most widely distributed sermon of the twentieth century in America. Bob did extensive missionary work in rural India, the Middle East and Central America and pastored 3 Presbyterian Churches in America between 1936 to 1969.
I was deeply impressed by Bob’s gentle, humble, Christlike spirit and his wonderful teaching gift. So much so that one day I approached him and asked him if I could meet with him to be mentored by him one lunchtime a week in his office. He willingly agreed. Another mentoring principle of mine is when you are looking for a mentor, “start at the top and work your way down, they might say no, but they could say yes.” Fortunately for me, Bob said yes and interestingly commented that this was the first such request like this that he had received.
Every Wednesday at Fuller Seminary I couldn’t wait for lunchtime to come and I would make my way to Bob’s office where we met for an hour which usually was taken up with a number of questions I had prepared for discussion, followed by a time of prayer. They were rich times indeed and one of the most important “classes” I would ever attend in my 20 months stay at Fuller during which time I completed my Masters degree.
There were many encouraging moments during our times of meeting, but one stands out above all the others. One week at the end of our meeting, Bob said to me, “Rod, I would like you to pray for me next week.” I didn’t give it much consideration, but sure enough the following week Bob said to me. “Rod, this is the week I want you to pray for me.” I replied that it was I who should be the one prayed for, but he insisted. Bob explained, “For some time we have been talking about the renewal of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life and I have come to realise that I am in need of a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit in my life. I believe that you are the person that should pray for me.”
Immediately Bob got out of his chair and down on his hands and knees on the floor of his office and invited me to lay hands on him and pray for him. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit filling that office and as I prayed, Bob joined me in crying out to the Holy Spirit for a fresh anointing on his life. This great man of God, well known across America, at the age of 80 wasn’t finished and humbled himself on his office floor as I prayed for him. It wasn’t long before I joined him on the floor and asked if he would pray for me. It was in this moment that I was reminded that one of the greatest qualities a follower of Jesus can possess is a TEACHABLE spirit where a person will maximise every opportunity for growth.
Such a person has a humble attitude and never stops learning, no matter how old they are. The attitude of a teachable heart is one of the most important qualities that I look for in the life of a person who asks me if I would commit to a mentoring relationship with them.
Teachability is one of the most important signs of a person who wants to be a follower of Jesus. “One day a woman in the crowd called out to Jesus, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” (Luke 11:27-28)
Dr Robert Munger’s timeless work My Heart-Christ’s Home was quoted by a Christian leader as “vividly compelling then, and I have found no other essay on the ABC’s of the Christian life other than scripture itself, as impacting as Munger’s wonderful work still today.”
The message begins:
In Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, we find these words: “That (God) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened by might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” (Ephesians3:16) Or as another has translated “That Christ may settle down and be at home in your heart by faith.”
Without question one of the most remarkable Christian doctrines is that Jesus Christ Himself through the presence of the Holy Spirit will actively enter a heart, settle down and be at home there. Christ will make the human heart His abode.
Our Lord said to His disciples, “If a man loves me, he will keep my words and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23) It was difficult for them to understand what He was saying. How was it possible for Him to make His abode with them in this sense? It is interesting that our Lord used the same word here that He gave them: “I go to prepare a place for you…..that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:1) Our Lord was promising His disciples that, just as He was going to heaven to prepare a place for them and would welcome them one day, now it would be possible for them to prepare a place for Him in their hearts and He would come and make His home with them. (For all of this article, go to https://www.usna.edu/Navigators/_files/documents/MHCH.pdf )
Dr Robert Munger was God’s gift to me at a strategic time in my life as a 45 year old student at Fuller Seminary. I will forever be thankful for that season where my thinking was being shaped, that he came into my life. His wisdom gave me valuable perspective and his hunger to keep learning and growing at the age of eighty deeply impacted me. I am glad that I was bold enough to start at the top and work my way down. And he didn’t say no but graciously was available to share his life with me. And I will never forget that moment where we were in the presence of God, and down on our hands and knees, we cried out for a greater measure of the Holy Spirit’s anointing in our lives.