Michael Smith ~ All Saints' and Mentoring: A Personal Reflection

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What I Learned from Tim Bock

I was one of those kids who started going to a Christian camp before we were officially allowed to. And as far as I can remember, camp was always a part of my life. This is where I met Tim Bock.

Speaking the Truth

Tim was a guy that at first glance didn’t really want to be your friend. His dry humor and wit often left some feeling awkward around this tall, weird, skinny guy. As a child, I remember that Tim was our babysitter who didn’t want to give my sister ice cream just for the fun of it. He also wasn’t shy about speaking the truth in love to you, and sometimes that can come across very hard. Yet in our family, like in many others, Tim was able to show up at a crucial point where we needed him the most. It was a God-thing.

When I was a junior camper, Tim was my counselor. I remember one night after he finally settled all of the crazy 4th grade boys down, he said, “Guys, I love you.” I still remember the bunk I was in when he said that. I remember the feeling of God’s presence and love come to me through Tim’s simple, yet powerful, words. I was loved and Tim helped me to truly know it.

You may never know the great power that a simple word of love can have on a person, but I encourage you to share love with others. It will never leave my memory. Though a lot of time has passed through the years, the memory of a mentor’s words at a critical time in my life will never fade.

As a young adult, it was Tim who drove me out to work at this same camp for the summer. I had spent several years away from the church and camp, so I was a bit nervous to go back to a familiar (but at the same time new) place. It was in this summer that I met some great friends and connected closer to God than ever before. I would meet a lifelong friend that I would spend time at Asbury College  with. I would meet a future seminary professor that summer, though I didn’t feel called into ministry at that time. That one week of camp meeting alone when Tim was dean was life-altering.

The Most Important Message

Tim was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He fought it hard for as long as he could. I was still in college when I had to give Tim a call. He didn’t sound the same, and we both knew that his time on this earth was running short. He was too weak to speak much, so I chatted a bit about upcoming plans. My old mentor was so affirming and gracious. I knew while we talked that this would be our last conversation.

I didn’t want it to be. I didn’t know what to say. So I said simply what he had taught me when I was a 4th grader.

“Tim, I love you.”

With his struggling voice my mentor told me, “I love you too.”

Many of my friends can tell funny stories of late-night antics at camp and share wonderful memories of Tim’s short life span. My witness to him is very simple: I loved Tim Bock. And I live in the present moment knowing that he made God’s love real to me.

Love changes people. It changed me. When you love, you honor my friend Tim. But more so, you will honor the Savior that Tim loved and served, Jesus Christ. Tim is now part of the “cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us. He encourages us to run the race – and in true Tim Bock fashion – he is probably making fun of me for running it in a weird way. But after we laugh, he tells me I am loved.

This makes me want to keep running.

Who has kept you running?

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Michael Smith is an Elder in the Greater New Jersey Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is honored to serve as the Senior Pastor of Clinton UMC in Clinton, NJ. He loves his family and is passionate about making new disciples.

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