I was raised in an unchurched home. A family tragedy happened and the local Lutheran Pastor reached out to our family. As a consequence of this loving act I enrolled in confirmation class and, for the first time in my life, heard about Jesus. This Pastor took me “under his wing”, took me with him on shut in calls, spent time with me, and challenged me to consider the pastoral ministry. He became a hero to me and I grew to love what he loved doing.
The biggest challenges for me in becoming a Pastor had to do with finances to pay for my education. My family was very poor. The same Pastor and the people of the congregation went out of their way to find me paying jobs. They also “fund raised” for me, including help from the old AAL & LB Lutheran insurance companies. I recall also them getting the District President to find funds for me as I headed off to Concordia, Portland.
My informal preparation came from the aforementioned Pastor letting me “shadow” him in various settings as well as giving me leadership roles in youth work.
After Concordia, Portland and Ft. Wayne, Senior College, seminary held no big surprises. I was well prepared and did very well academically. Perhaps my biggest surprise was the lack of personal piety in some of my professors.
I worked numerous jobs while attending seminary. The seminary had some financial aid. My home District helped as well as my home congregation. The seminary connected me to some generous scholarship sources (private Christian organizations & families). I ate a LOT of “Kraft Dinner” :).
My fears centered around perceived personal inadequacy. It was my preaching professor (the sainted Dr. Richard Kraemer) who took time to encourage me and focus my heart on God’s adequacy working through me. Little did Dr. Kraemer know that I would teach students how to preach at Concordia Seminary, Edmonton for many years. 🙂
My biggest joys have been how God has used me to:
- Bring unchurched husbands (of member wives) into saving faith & active church life
- Instill in my former seminary students a passion for preaching
- Reach out to new immigrants leading them to saving faith & active church life