Mentor Profile #4: Joe MItchell

Joe was in my story about Kris Cooper. He is a good friend, his wife has a blog, and I worked under him at Kanakuk for 3 Summers.

He and I power-sprayed a track and two tennis courts one week. Power Spraying a track and a tennis court is fun because power spraying is fun. It is not fun because being lightly shaken all day is not fun. Also, because a power sprayer (a good one anyway) will strip paint if you have the right nozzle on it. In this case, we were walking a line because we were going to re-paint what we stripped… So, strip the courts, but not with abandon. Or something… Anyway, that is how I spent my first week with Joe.

Here is what I remember about Joe (who is, I think, 1 or 2 years old than me). When we worked together he would typically say, “It’ll be alright.” To new ideas mostly. Meaning, ‘I’m tired, let’s think of a better and more efficient way of doing this… and if we don’t I will have rested for five minutes on my rock rake.’ Joe’s answer, “It’ll be alright.” Means: we have man-power (implication: not genius engineering) behind us, let’s just finish the job. Sometimes he would say, “It’ll probably be alright.” If you ever hear me say this, what I have actually just said is, “the process is actually fine and I think we just need to finish it.” What I learned from Joe here was to just keep working. I still don’t always do this, I wasn’t exactly mentored in a ‘roll up your sleeves’ kind of house; but I am a lot better since working with Joe.

Joe and I aren’t too similar. But, for a few years we would talk in March about basketball, and if I called him now and asked about the Lakers (his team), we would have a nice talk. He would then indulge me in regards to the Celtics (my team).

Joe played a bit of point guard when we had some time for bball at camp. We liked playing together. Once, I stepped back and missed a 3 and he said, “You were trying to step back like Reggie (Miller).” A few years later I did it successfully against a league team, and thought of what he said. He is a good player, uses the backboard well and tends to forget that he can score pretty well.

What I remember from playing basketball with him was that if I did something dumb or missed a layup he would get on my case, but not in the irritating way. I knew he just wanted to win, he knew I didn’t want to miss, but he provided that strange kind of man-encouragement that sounds discouraging, but is really just us understanding language backwards or something. Kind of like when I was studying for my ordination exams and Rick kept telling me he would kick my ass if I didn’t pass them. It was encouraging.

I remember other things, like he and my wife attempting to date :). I remember that he helped me understand that kids will always want to do something more if you go and do it with them. I remember him reacting well to a guy getting very sick (not to his stomach, but not-breathing-kind-of-sick) at the pool one summer. I remember that Joe is great friends my oldest Kanakuk friend Stuart Finley (we were campers together in 1985).

But, under Joe I learned about hard work, enjoyed some basketball, and forever adopted a phrase that helps me to keep working at stuff, “probably be alright…”

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