A few years ago I wrote about my mentors. Mostly men, family, a few bosses, etc.
I did not include my Spanish teacher from 9-12th grade. In many ways he was the most important of all of them. How then, could I forget to write about him? It was because I need to continue to think and re-think about this question. It is inherently a humbling question, and I am certainly more humbled (not humble maybe) than I was when I began writing.
My high school was a strange place. I won’t go into it here, but it was hard to be a Christian there and it was a Christian institution. My Spanish teacher, Mr. Passmore, was loved by all. But, he did not tolerate all, he did not enable, he was a good teacher, and as a strong man he was clear when he thought you were crossing the line or hurting yourself with your actions.
At a time when I was well-nigh intolerable he tolerated me; he tolerated me. And, he loved me. When it was possible anyway.
Mr. Passmore called us Dufflepuds. A Narnian reference. He also knew martial arts, and once, when I tried to scare him, I found myself on my back with no wind in my body. He always smiled, unless he was deeply sad over our stupidity, lack of respect, or our general ignorance of the Grace of Jesus and how we live in light of it.
He regularly did devotionals and I remember a number of them. It has been 20 years and I can still hear his voice. He once pointed out how little we remember, understand, or care about the trinity. I doubt I can accurately describe how little we thought we cared about this as he began (picture 15 year olds in uniforms, allowed to sit on the floor). The devotional was on John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” That is how good he was/is. I could also ask and answer 50 questions in full spanish pretty easily by the end of the semester.
My friend Fiek and I bought a file cabinet our senior year and left in in his room. We put a Spanish Curse-Phrase on the top of it. He read it, laughed, sent us along, and later re-made the phrase into a less-inflammatory one. Grace, but without enabling.
I am unsure of how deeply the Holy Spirit used his mentoring to save/grow/maintain my heart, but I know that he is as important of a mentor as I have had. Kris Cooper is the other who I think of regularly, but as I get older I notice how the younger years were sustaining, protecting years. Mr. Passmore (Lieutenant Passmore) was there, he was consistently loving without putting up with our BS. I am deeply grateful.
A few days ago I googled him (for about the 10th time in as many years) and found his email address. I’m writing this because I am thrilled to reconnect with him. I might not see or hear from him or his family for awhile (not really anyway), but I will never (and I mean that in the eternal sense) forget his mentoring.
The most passionate devotional I recall him giving was on Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of Glory”. Similarly, to the John 10:30 passage, I am still in awe that the Holy Spirit would use a man so mightily. I can hear the energy in his voice, the shock, the joy that we are called into this mission with Christ! It is still a humbling verse/truth/devotional to me.
I will be preaching at Riverside tomorrow. I cannot imagine that I would be there if the Lord had not led him into my life.
Thank you sir. For everything.