Dr. Sandra Glahn, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Worship at Dallas Theological Seminary, shared a story with me on the personal impact she had on a male student at DTS. One of her students was about to deploy to Afghanistan as a chaplain and tracked her down to say goodbye. Below, is her recollection and reflection of the encounter:
The soldier standing in front of me was someone I had loved and mentored in my job as a seminary professor.
But first, he had something additional to say. It went something like this:
“You believed in me from the start, nurturing my dreams, and modeling for me what a godly woman looks like. Like a spiritual mom. Thank you, ma’am.”
I had no words. It was too much.
“I didn’t want to deploy without first . . .” he stammered, “making sure I said those words to you.”
During his desert deployment, Justin saw violence no human should see. And because chaplains cannot carry weapons, he carried a video camera and accompanied his guys to the front lines. He ended up producing a movie about war and PTSD. And because the seminary where I teach is committed to the marriage of arts and theology, they sent me to attend the premiere at the Boston Film Festival—where Justin’s film won “Best Documentary.”
As I walked down the red carpet that night, that young Army-captain chaplain, a leader of men, got the crowd’s attention and pointed to this woman with grey in her hair and lines around her eyes. “My mentor,” he announced, like that was the thing that made him most proud. And I tasted salt.
Later he texted me these words: “When you’re shaping up into who you’re going to be, it sometimes takes teachers to tell you that you can fly.”
So, I ask, should I be influencing people like Justin?