I started seriously thinking about entering the pastoral ministry in my last year of university at the University of Regina. While there was no specific person who spoke to me I was certainly encouraged by the pastors I had at that time, such as Rev. Brian Dill, Rev. Irwin Pudrycki and Rev. Dennis Aubey, all of whom served at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Regina. One of my professors in university, Dr. Roland Miller, was also a great encouragement to me.
Finances were certainly a challenge. God provided me with the means by way of a summer job, a couple of small student loans and some funds from my congregation.
Informal preparation came mostly by way of the Christian friends I associated with and the pastors that I had who were wonderful servants with caring hearts. God also gave me the desire to serve Him and other people. I now believe this was the work of the Holy Spirit although I didn’t necessarily see that at the time. I just knew I wanted to serve God and others. In terms of formal preparation my seminary experience provided me with a solid grounding in Lutheran theology and practice which, obviously, is essential to serve in the Holy Ministry. If there was any surprise it would have only been that the work load was heavier than I had expected. However, with God’s help, I was able to complete my seminary education in 1986.
He blessed me with a wonderful wife who was able to work while I was going to school. As noted above I also had a summer job waiting for me each year as soon as I was done school. As a result I was able to complete seminary debt free, which was a blessing as well.
I think my greatest fear came at the time of my vicarage since I was serving a three point parish on my own in northern Saskatchewan, only meeting with my vicarage supervisor once a month. In spite of my concern, God blessed me greatly during that year and helped me meet the challenges of serving His people during my vicarage. While it was not the sort of vicarage I would recommend, in my case, it was definitely a year of great personal growth and learning.
Certainly, one of the greatest joys is preaching and teaching. It is also a real joy to be part of people’s lives during some of the high points (baptisms, confirmations, marriages, anniversaries, etc.). In addition, although “joy” may not be the best word, it is certainly a great privilege to be part of people’s lives at some of their lowest moments such as when they may have experienced loss through death or other means. Being able to bring the Word of God to all of these situations is both a joy, as well as a great privilege. Being in a position to assure a guilt ridden conscience that their sins are forgiven through Jesus is a particularly profound and deeply meaningful part of serving in the Holy Ministry.