Yesterday, I woke up and looked at Facebook. Of course it’s the first thing I do when I wake up, which is ridiculous and a habit I need to break. Only this time I found out that one of my teachers from high school, Mr. Warden, passed away that morning. The outpouring of praise for Mr. Warden was incredible. Post after post I saw people talking about how much he will be missed and what a great man he was. I posted a short post about him as well, but I feel like to truly get a sense of how appreciated he was, I should post a lengthy blog about what he meant to me personally. Mr. Warden was my bible class teacher through high school. I’d like to say all the way from 9th to 12th grade, but I can’t remember if that was it or not. I can tell you that him teaching bible class isn’t the most important thing I remember about him. What was most memorable to me, and to many of my peers, was that he sincerely loved his students. You could see it whenever he spent extra time with students to help them out with ANYTHING at all. He was always fully involved in our lives, and not just whether we could get an A on a test. He was more concerned with our spiritual walk with God than our academics, and I always loved that about him.
Steph and I were just talking yesterday about how he always seemed like the only teacher that was ever truly honest with us about the way things were. He would gripe alongside us when the school made a rule that didn’t make any good sense. I know the other faculty thought the same thing, and I don’t say these things to put them down because they all had their own unique influence on us that got us through high school alive and prepared for the world. But Mr. Warden truly sympathized with us about things that meant a lot to us. I don’t think Mr. Warden ever truly stopped being a kid, and his way of dealing with things and teaching us things made us feel like we were dealing with someone who truly understood us. He could go from teaching us Greek, to talking about comic books, to teaching us about Jesus, then turn around and jam out some guitar with us.
Sometimes I look back and wish that he had been able to gain more influence with our school’s administration than he was. We had a class at one point where they split up the guys and girls so that they could talk to us about things that we were dealing with individually. Mr. Warden wanted to have honest conversation with us, but I believe he was shackled by some rules that were instituted, and you could see his frustration with the system he was having to work within. We were at a challenging time in our lives and all he ever wanted to do was listen to us, talk to us, and hear us out. But instead he was forced into planned handouts and preaching. At least that’s how it appeared to me. He was definitely our school rebel, but in the best of ways. We totally loved that about him.
I remember when me and some friends had planned a small bible study that would take place in his room during lunch so that we could learn more and just spend some time in God’s word. He was super supportive of us doing this during lunch and was happy to let us use his room. If I remember right, a complaint came along from another teacher or someone about food on the tables or something like that, and put an end to the whole thing. He was so upset about that, considering we were a Christian school that was supposed to be focused on nourishing the lives of students. He couldn’t understand why a school that was supposed to lead students in a walk with Christ, could tell them that they weren’t allowed to have a bible study during lunch. It didn’t make sense to us, and it didn’t make sense to him. The cool thing was that he told us that. He gained our absolute trust by being honest with us.
I have so many more stories I could tell that probably better reflect the incredible person he was. I’d end up writing a novel if I could. But the important thing I remember is that every story I have of him shows how Christ-like he was. He was as shining example of Christ’s patience and love for us. Our class wasn’t always the best to him and we took advantage of his care-free spirit more than we should have, but he never gave up on us and never stopped loving us for who we were.
Stephanie and I loved him so much we wanted to have him as the pastor to marry us on our wedding day. It didn’t work out, but we got married anyway ;). He was such a great guy. He always had so much patience, and love for everybody. I truly believe that when he arrived at those pearly gates, Jesus looked right at him and said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Then he probably handed him the most epic guitar in the Heaven and said to go join the praise band :). I honestly can’t wait to see him again.
For Mr. Warden – one of the greatest guys I’ve had the pleasure of knowing