Mentoring is common in circles of business and faith. Max Rondoni was a mentor to me on biblical study and personally walking with Jesus. ♦
It’s been almost 5 years since I last spoke to Max. For almost 20 years he was like a father to me in matters of business and faith. He was all human – strongly opinionated with a stubborn streak and feisty spirit often impatient with those that didn’t see the world as he did. Nonetheless I literally observed maturing grace and aging gentleness. Over the time I knew him, to me he became more child-like sweet and a model of Jesus in applied wisdom and tenderness.
A Customer First, then Friend and Mentor
I originally met Max as one of my IBM customers. One Sunday I noticed in the church bulletin that a ‘Max and Lois Rondoni’ were listed as teachers of an upcoming Bible Study class. I called Max on Monday and confirmed that we attended the same church. I joined their class that week which started a 20-year odyssey of Bible learning, study, teaching, growing and friendship with Max and Lois.
I learned much from Max in the time I engaged with him. Looking back, my own youthful narrow vision and naiveté kept me from taking full advantage of the mentor and life-force I had at my disposal. He would drop anything to spend time with me. I should have more routinely probed his mind, heart and experience in all matters of my life. I engaged as it was convenient for me and didn’t truly treasure the goldmine that was before me.
I learned 3 key things from Max:
1. The Bible is to be Known and Studied – Max had the biggest personal library than anyone I had ever met. And he read all those books too. He studied the Scriptures and had spent a lifetime in becoming a student of the Word of God. He knew details and Biblical applications that I had never heard before in sermons and church group sessions. From Max I confirmed an important lesson: the cumulative effect of something practiced and repeated diligently will yield results. The key is to make that something a matter of worth. Personal Bible study is worth it.
2. History is Real and Matters – Max taught the Bible in the context of historical timelines. He would always put lessons in context of history. Without overt pressure or demeaning charges, he challenged and motivated me to want to do the necessary homework to grasp and understand debatable topics. He knew the facts and could tell stories of people and events in light of a historical backdrop that made the lesson come to life and easier to understand. I became a student of history because of a non-credentialed historical scholar: Max.
3. Jesus is an Intimate Friend – Max lived out an intimate relationship with his Lord and Creator. On our last meeting together over breakfast he shared with me his personal daily routine of spending up to 4 hours in the morning with “his best friend, Jesus.” Though a noble action, at that time I was astounded that one could spend so much time in personal prayer, study and quiet time, even in quasi-retirement. The true intimacy he had with Christ was striking to me. It set a new perspective for me of what the Christian life/walk could be.
A Final Drive
At that last breakfast meeting with Max, he also excited told me that a decade long ministry project (The Story of the Messiah) was culminating in the arrangement for distribution rights with a Midwest organization. They were arranging to come out in one month to meet with him and finalize the deal.
One month later I received a call from Lois telling me that Max had died after suffering a massive heart attack. She told me that he had just had lunch with a man from a Midwest company and was celebrating the signing of a deal for distribution rights. Max was driving the man from the restaurant back to the airport. The man stated that as Max was driving he suddenly slowed the car and steered it over to the curb. Max then turned to the man and simply said “I’m going to be with Jesus now. Good-bye!’ He then leaned over and died in the front seat. He was 78.
Do you have a mentor like Max? Are you a mentor like Max? Are you a friend of Jesus?
“You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” – John 15:14-17