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Mentored by a Milker of Cows

by Walt Larimore, MD
Today's Christian Doctor - Summer 2011

I knew I needed a mentor. I was busy with my career as a physician — too busy for my family. My priorities were out of whack. I needed someone who would encourage me and keep me on track. So I asked the pastors who came through the hospital, “Who’s the one layperson you know in this area who looks most like Jesus?” When I heard the name Bill Judge multiple times, I said, “This is a guy I’d like to meet.”

I called Bill and asked if he would mentor me. I was taken aback when he quietly said he would meet with me once and decide.

Early on a Tuesday morning, more than twenty years ago, I shared with Bill about my life and struggles. He responded by saying he wanted to pray about whether we would spend more time together. (I felt like I was waiting for a medical school application or something, to see if I’d be accepted!)

What I later learned was that Bill was considering committing himself to me in an unusual way, even getting up an hour before our early morning sessions to pray for me. Although his experiences of raising five daughters and nearly going through bankruptcy before committing his finances and farm to God were rich and extremely valuable to a young man like me, he wanted to bring more to our relationship than what he had done.

Bill wanted to teach me about the Creator, the Father God, and His Son, Jesus. He wanted me to understand what the blood of Christ and the resurrection meant. He wanted me to be indwelled and overflowing with the Holy Spirit. He wanted me to discover my gifts and to bask in the joy of seeing the Lord produce fruit in my life. So he wanted to pray about it first!

When he called back, he said yes . . . with conditions.

“The first is that we’ll meet at 5:30 in the morning, usually at Joanie’s Café in downtown Kissimmee, for breakfast. And bring your Bible.”

Next, “The first Tuesday of each month, I want you to bring your checkbook and your credit card bill so we can go through them together. The second Tuesday, I want you to bring your schedule, so we can discuss the stewardship of time.

“Before our meeting on the third Tuesday of the month, I want the freedom to be able to call your kids, Kate, and Scott, so that you and I can talk more meaningfully about what type of dad you are.” (My kids loved those phone calls! Imagine trying to discipline your little boy, and he says, “I’m going to tell Mr. Bill. I’m going to call Mr. Bill.”)

It got worse, because before the fourth Tuesday of each month, he said he’d also like permission to call my wife, Barb. She looked forward to that week, and they often had long discussions about our marriage! “And when there’s a fifth Tuesday,” he said, “I’d like to be able to talk to your staff and your business partner. Will you give me that permission?”

I have to tell you, I thought long and hard about those conditions. That’s where the rubber met the road, and it was a tough deal. But I agreed, and we began the mentoring relationship.

Someone has said that mentoring is a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on, and a push in the right direction. But for me, mentoring began as a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on, and a kick in the pants!

But I’ll never forget that first Tuesday when we were to discuss my finances. I was nervous, because there were some things I wasn’t too proud of. Bill arrived with a little satchel, and he pulled out his checkbook and credit card bill for us to examine. Instead of just requiring me to do it, Bill showed me what it meant to budget, give, and save by sharing honestly about mistakes and victories from his own life.

That humility and transparency characterized Bill’s way of working with me. He has never asked me to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. His relationship with God was honest, vibrant, and fresh. And it changed my life. In recent years Barb and I have been on the road more and more, but Bill and I still talk regularly. The accountability continues.

There are plenty of New Testament examples of mentoring. Jesus mentored His twelve disciples, and specifically the three. Peter, one of the three, then mentored Barnabas, who in turn mentored Paul. Paul mentored Timothy and also gave the pastoral admonition to train other men (2 Tim. 2:2). Men mentoring men and women mentoring women — that’s how the church began and spread.

Make no mistake, one-on-one relationships are costly and time consuming. And the difficult work of a relationship doesn’t start in a church building. It starts at places like Joanie’s on Tuesday mornings.

Early in my relationship with Bill, I asked God to give me one or two men I could pour my life into the way Bill was pouring his into me. The Lord gave me two men, the first people I had ever mentored, to meet with for a year.

Eventually those men moved away, and I lost touch with them. Then recently, as I was teaching at Baylor Medical College, about fifty people came up to me as a group. One of them said, “About twenty years ago, you mentored a man for a year. He then started a business, went to seminary, and started a church in our town. He led us to Christ and discipled us. And he sent us here to learn from you and to thank you.”

I think that’s what heaven is going to be like if we’ll make the effort, like Bill, to mentor others. You don’t have to be that far down the road. You just have to intentionally get on your knees and say, “Father, would You give me someone I can mentor, and pray for, and love?”

Mentoring Basics

Here are a few principles for mentoring that Bill brought into our relationship:

  1. He took me to God’s Word. We did not have a time together that Bill’s Bible wasn’t there and open. He lived the principles and promises in God’s Word, and he taught me their value.
  2. He prayed with me. I don’t remember a time we met without prayer. Even now, I can’t call him on the phone from anywhere in the world that he doesn’t tell me that he’s praying for me — and of course he wants to pray with me over the phone.
  3. He lovingly monitored my progress. With every three steps forward, there were usually two back (sometimes more!). Through all my failings, I could always call Bill and find a man who was willing to accept and encourage me no matter what.
  4. He protected me. I remember a period when I was wrestling with some movies I’d watch on the road. Instead of judging me, Bill just said, “From now on, when you check in at the hotel, you have the receptionist call me and tell me that he or she has turned those things off.” I’ve witnessed some funny expressions on the faces of receptionists around the country when I checked in! But Bill loved me enough to protect me.

A Word from Bill

I milked cows for a living. I tell you that so you will understand how humbling it was for someone like Walt to ask me to mentor him. Walt has a tremendous mind. He is not only a medical doctor who built a successful practice, but he went on to become an author and television medical commentator.

What does a milker of cows have to offer a man with that kind of résumé? I certainly didn’t feel qualified to be his mentor. But I’ve since discovered that every person has something special in them that they can communicate to another person. We need each other, and whoever you are — even if you milk cows for a living — God can use you to help someone else move up.

I marvel at what has happened through Walt’s and my friendship. As we’ve met together, I’ve just tried to wait on God to give me answers to the questions he asked. I’ve trusted Walt, and he trusted me, and we’ve just walked together in that with God.

First Thessalonians 5:24 says, “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” He calls you to do it, and then He will do it. So why are we sweating? It’s Him! It’s Him in us that does it.

Bill Judge is a retired farmer and businessman who has been married for 61 years to Jane, in Kissimmee, Florida. They have five married daughters, 14 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.

The article “Mentored by a Milker of Cows” originally appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of Revive magazine. Used by permission of Life Action Ministries.

Walt Larimore, MD

About Walt Larimore, MD

Colorado, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Award-winning Family Physician and Best-Selling Author Walt Larimore, MD Nationally-Recognized Family Physician and Educator Dr. Larimore has been a practicing family physician for over 30 years (delivering over 1,500 babies). Besides seeing patients, part time, and volunteering for Mission Medical Clinic, a free, faith-based health clinic for the poor sponsored by over 100 churches and religious organizations in Colorado Springs, Dr. Larimore teaches family medicine part-time, holding adjunct clinical academic appointments at the In His Image Family Medicine Residency Program in Tulsa, OK and the University of Colorado Family Medicine Residency Program in Denver, CO. Dr. Larimore has been listed in Distinguished Physicians of America, The Best Doctors in America, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, International Health Professionals of the Year, and International Health Scientists of the Year. In addition, Dr. Larimore has been listed in the Guide to America's Top Family Doctors, America's Registry of Outstanding Professionals, and The 2000 Intellectuals of the 21st Century. In 1996, Dr. Larimore was named America's Outstanding Family Physician Educator (Thomas W. Johnson Award) by the American Academy of Family Physicians and in 1999, he and his wife, Barb, were named National Educators of the Year by the Christian Medical Association. Dr. Larimore was listed as an inaugural member of the Leading Educators of the World (in the field of family medicine), by the International Biographical Centre of Cambridge, England. Dr. Larimore served as Medical Director of Mission Medical Clinic from 2008-2012 and as Vice President and Family Physician in Residence at Focus on the Family from 2001 through 2004. Prior to moving to Colorado in 2001, Dr. Larimore practiced family medicine in Kissimmee, Florida for 16 years. During this time he served over a decade as a volunteer physician for the U.S. Olympic Committee and was named to the Great Florida Shootout Basketball Tournament Hall of Fame. From 1981 to 1985, Dr. Larimore practiced in the small town of Bryson City in the rural Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Dr. Larimore completed his Residency in Family Medicine at Duke University Medical Center in 1981 and completed a General Practice Teaching Fellowship at Queen's Hospital in Nottingham, England in 1978. His M.D. degree, with AOA honors, was from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in 1977; and his B.S. degree was from Louisiana State University in 1974. Dr. Larimore is Board Certified and re-certified (four times) by the American Board of Family Medicine and has been awarded the Certificate of Added Qualification in Sports Medicine by the ABFM. Dr. Larimore and his childhood sweetheart, Barb, live in Colorado and have been married over 38 years, have two adult children, two beautiful granddaughters, and a cat named Jack. Best-Selling, Award-Winning Author Dr. Larimore is a prolific author and has written, co-written, or edited thirty books, thirty medical textbook chapters, and nearly 700 articles in a variety of medical journals and lay magazines. His best-selling books include Bryson City Tales, Bryson City Seasons, and Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook. His books have garnered a number of national awards, including three Gold Medallion Award nominations, three Christy Award nominations, a Retailer’s Choice Award, and a Book of the Year Award from ECPA. Dr. Larimore currently posts a twice-a-day topical devotional (www.Devotional.DrWalt.com) and since 2007 has written a health column, Ask Dr. Walt, for Significant Living magazine. From 2007-2012, Dr. Larimore posted a medical and health news blog (www.DrWalt.com/blog), for which he posted nearly 3500 articles. Dr. Larimore co-wrote, with Barb, his childhood sweetheart and wife of over 38 years, His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage. He also wrote the health chapter for Coach Joe Gibb’s best-selling book Game Plan for Life. Dr. Larimore’s most recent health book is 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People. He’s also recently written two books for kids going through puberty (and their parents). The Ultimate Guys' Body Book: Not-so-stupid questions about your body was published in 2012 and The Ultimate Girls' Body Book: Not-so-stupid questions about your body will be published in 2014. Since 2010, Dr. Larimore has published four novels. The first two, The Gabon Virus and The Influenza Bomb, were written with his dear friend Paul McCusker. His first two solo novels, Hazel Creek, and its sequel, Sugar Fork were released in 2012. His best-selling books, about his first years in practice as a family physician in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, includesBryson City Tales, Bryson City Seasons, and Bryson City Secrets. In 2012, Dr. Larimore wrote the introductions to two books: a devotional, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare and a book on nutrition, Alive! A Physician's Biblical and Scientific Guide to Nutrition. He was also featured in Miracles & Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories from Doctors. Dr. Larimore was the General Editor for Updates in Maternity Care (2000) and served as a contributing author for the Mayo Clinic's Complete Book of Pregnancy and Baby's First Year, Focus on the Family's Complete Book of Baby and Child Care, and Focus on the Family's Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones. His thirty medical textbook chapters have been on topics ranging from maternity care, prenatal care, sports injuries, endoscopy, rural health economics, and ethics. Award-Winning Medical Journalist Dr. Larimore was a medical journalist from 1995 to 2012. From 1995-200, he hosted over 850 live daily episodes of the National Cable TV Show Ask the Family Doctor on America's Health Network and later on Fox's Health Network. While with Fox, Dr. Larimore was awarded the prestigious "Gracie" Award in 2000 by the American Women in Radio and Television for his work on a program about breast cancer and reconstructive surgery for Fox News' Health Network. Besides hosting the show in-studio, he also performed investigative and fieldwork. At its peak, his show was available in over 28 million American homes. Joe Maddox, the past President and COO of America's Health Network, said that Dr. Larimore had more "... actual on-air TV experience than any physician in the history of television." Dr. Larimore also hosted a medical news minute on The Health Network and the Apple a Day segment on The Health Network and later on Discovery Health TV Network. On Ask the Family Doctor, Dr. Larimore hosted several of the nation's first live televised medical procedures. He conceived and hosted the first worldwide live Internet and TV birth in June 1998 – a then innovative approach to reality TV that was covered by most large media outlets. Of his hosting, the international edition of Time Magazine said, "Dr. Walt Larimore, a distinguished private physician conducted the exercise like a veteran 60 Minutes reporter." Dr. Larimore appeared in interviews on NBC's "The Today Show;" "CBS Good Morning;" "CNN Headline News;" CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," CNBC's "The Abrams Report;" PBS' "Family Works;" and several Fox News shows. He has also been interviewed on Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity's shows. Dr. Larimore served as an on-air Medical Consultant for many radio stations, including WDBO in Orlando; WMBI, Chicago; WISG, Indianapolis; KNKT, Albuquerque; WBCL, Ft. Wayne and the Indiana State Network; WOCL, Baltimore; Kim Jeffries’ Along the Way, Northwest Radio Network; KFSH, Los Angeles; WKES, Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando, FL; WSOR, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral, FL; WHGN, Crystal River, Inverness, Ocala, FL; WKZM, Sarasota, Bradenton, FL; Life Perspectives, American Family Radio; KTIS, Minneapolis; WRMB Boynton Beach, Okeechobee, Stuart, and Ft. Pierce, FL. Dr. Larimore has also served as a medical consultant for the Total Living Television Network, CCN (Christian Communications Network), HealthTeacher.com, and DiscoveryHealth.com. Dr. Larimore hosted the nationally syndicated Focus on Your Family's Health from 2001 to 2004. These 90-second daily news features were in as many as 75 radio and 37 TV markets across the U.S. Dr. Larimore also provided live on-air interviews to local TV affiliates and national cable TV outlets about breaking medical news. As a family health and medical expert, Dr. Larimore has been sought for print interviews with dozens of newspapers: including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Chicago Tribune, Washington Times, Orlando Sentinel, National Catholic Register, Malaysia Strait Times, South China Post, and the UPI. Dr. Larimore has been interviewed by a number of national magazines including Redbook, In Touch Weekly, Life & Style, Significant Living, Today’s Christian, Home Life, Family Life, Stand Firm, First for Women, Today’s Christian Physician, My Family Doctor, AMA News, Family Practice News, and Pediatric News. Contact Dr. Larimore by email.

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