Everybody Needs a Bill Sewall

Last night my wife and I had dinner with our old pastor and my mentor/spiritual father. I was reminded of a blog post I made a couple years ago …

Everybody needs a Bill Sewall. Who is Bill Sewall you ask? Bill Sewall was perhaps the biggest influence in the life of Teddy Roosevelt. This morning I learned about Bill and how his relationship with our 26th president helped shape the man Theodore would become. I heard an interview this morning with Andrew Vietze. Andrew is the author of Becoming Teddy Roosevelt: How a Maine Guide Inspired America’s 26th President. This book tells the story of a trail guide/lumberjack of sorts that became a role model for one of the roughest, toughest men in American history. After Teddy’s father, whom Teddy referred to as his best friend and the man he most admired, passed away Bill became something of an older brother figure to Roosevelt. They were so close that Teddy said on his deathbed to ask Bill Sewall he knows me better than anyone.

It is said that if you want to know about someone, look at those who have greatly influenced them. Vietze did this in his book by looking at the person of Bill Sewall. Typically we do this by looking at one’s parents, but let’s be honest, most people are more influenced by those in their social circle, or friends. Certainly those principles handed down by our parents provide a foundation, but by and large, we are the company we keep. My blog today will not be as long as others (I mean it this time). I just wanted to share a quick thought that came into my brain on the train. So listen.

Who is your Bill Sewall? Do you have a Bill Sewall? Are you a Bill Sewall to someone else? We all need a Bill Sewall. We all need someone who is not necessarily a parent or grandparent, but someone who we can look up to. Having someone who is outside your family is, in my opinion, very important. It’s good to have someone with an objective outside point of view. In my life, this person is also a Bill. Aside from my father and grandfathers, Bill has been one of the biggest influences on my journey to maturity. Bill is not a perfect man by any stretch, but he knows that and he doesn’t pretend. Bill is relatable. Bill has a big heart. Bill is a good man. I credit much of my life and views on life to Bill. I in many ways credit Bill with my marriage and family. I am very fortunate to have met, known and spent time with Bill. Even though we don’t see each other as regularly as we used to, he is still very important to me. I am proud to have people learn about me by looking at him. Please don’t get me wrong, I am also extremely proud of and humbled by my father and grandfathers. I am only telling you about Bill because he is the role model I have outside of my own family.

My Bill is a pharmacist and former lay-pastor who overcame the addictions he struggled with as a young man. Bill and I and several other men met weekly at his house and learned about integrity, responsibility and what it meant to be a man of your word. We learned about not breaking commitments and practicing what you preach. Most importantly we learned how to lead our family and treat our wives and children with love and respect. I greatly benefited from having a Bill Sewall. Is there anyone in your life that you can look up to? Is there a male role model outside your family you trust enough to be honest with? Look around. If there is, I would ask you to consider asking them to be a mentor. Look at their character and decide if you want to be more like them in their decisions and or abilities. Maybe you have someone, a younger nephew or cousin, who needs a Bill Sewall. Can you be that to them? They will be forever affected by not only the things you can teach them, but by the sheer fact that you are interested enough in their well being to be their Bill Sewall.

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