A step toward future ministry: Part 1

Young men and women choose to prepare for the public ministry of the gospel. 

John A. Braun 

“I decided I wanted to serve in public ministry,” Will DeMarce said. His reason was one often repeated: “My pastor and teachers told me I had many gifts fit for ministry. The vicar was especially encouraging.” So Will headed off to Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., to prepare himself for serving in the public ministry. 

step of faith 

Becoming a pastor, teacher, or staff minister is a step of faith. The Holy Spirit has created faith in the hearts of these young people just as he has in the hearts of many others. But the Spirit has led these young adults to desire to serve Jesus in a special way. They aspire the noble task (see 1 Timothy 3:1). They want to serve Jesus and help others to know and appreciate the Savior’s blessings by serving in the public ministry. 

Brent Schmidt shares a personal story. “My dad passed away suddenly during the summer between my sophomore and junior year or high school. [So many] helped me through those hard times. They are the reason I’m pursuing my education as a called worker. I hope someday I’ll have the opportunity to share that same comforting news of grace and love from Christ to a student in need.” 

Paul Ritter took a little detour, but he also wanted to share the blessings the Holy Spirit led him to treasure. “After I graduated [from high school] I enlisted in the army. I learned much while I was away, and it forced me to grow up fast,” he says. “I was going through things most adults would never experience. No matter how bad things seemed to get, I clung to the one thing that promised me solace. I held on to my faith in the Lord, and it brought me great comfort. When I came back home, I wanted to share that feeling of comfort that is a lighthouse to those who are lost in this sinful world.” 

Elliott Butler said it simply, “Ultimately, the deciding factor was that I want to serve God in the ministry and be able to influence young people like all my teachers did when I was growing up.” 

vision of ministry 

Faith! Taking the step toward ministry flows from the faith the Holy Spirit has created within. That faith also provides a vision of how they might serve. Sarah Koelpin shared her vision: “Everyone always told me how wonderful a teacher I’d make.” Then while at MLC, she learned how the Lord could use her. “I learned that being a teacher means telling jokes that aren’t funny, throwing away the lesson plan sometimes, and taking time to talk with your kids about life. . . . And most important, it means being the person who gets to tell them about Jesus every single day, not only in religion class but also in every situation that life throws at us.” 

Life experiences sometimes provide that vision. Daniel Wessel comments, “A semester spent in Hong Kong as a sixth grader made me realize just how big the world is and just how much the world needs to hear the good news that we have been so blessed to know.”  

Danielle Hall fell in love with the idea of being a teacher and is “excited and willing to share God’s Word with others.” Abbie Mleziva looks forward. “I never had an epiphany moment when I suddenly know I was meant to be a teacher. I was the first person in my family to pursue a career in the public ministry,” she says. “I’m so thankful for the people and experiences God used to help me realize that I would enjoy being a teacher. Now I can’t wait to get my first call!” 

Jeremiah Wallander adds, “I became interested in the public ministry when I saw how much pastors helped people. I do not consider myself one of the smartest guys, but I am very passionate about helping others and showing them the greatness of our God.” 

Encouragement from others 

Students preparing for the ministry do not all follow the same path. Each student has a little different personal story. Their faith is the solid foundation for taking the step to enroll at Martin Luther College. They often acquire the vision to serve through the encouragement they receive. 

For some, it’s finding a role model. “My Aunt Jenny has definitely been one of the most influential people in my life,” says Cassie Doering. “She’s just an overall great role model and seeing how much she loves teaching children about their Savior really solidified my desire to do the same.” 

Rylee Weisensel was offered an athletic scholarship at another university, but she followed the example of her role model. “I was home schooled until high school. Being taught by my mom made me want to be a teacher. It was the way she taught. She let us discover things but was always there if we were struck on something. My mom was my role model.”  

Michaela Bessler offers a little different perspective. “My mom was a music teacher and worship coordinator for many years in Tucson. I remember seeing her work late at night with a smile on her face. That ‘servant’s heart’ attitude opened my eyes to the ministry.” 

Encouragement also comes in what others say. Michael Wu shares his story: “I come from a Buddhist family.” He was baptized and confirmed but “public ministry wasn’t even a consideration until about four months before high school graduation. . . . While my decision was not well received by my family, I was certain. I owe it to the teachers and pastors who encouraged me all my life to consider the public ministry.” 

Personal and specific encouragement came to Aaron Bush. “My parents weren’t WELS. They were looking for a church right before I was born when a WELS pastor out canvassing knocked on their door,” he says. “I really didn’t know I could become a pastor. I didn’t think that was a thing I could do. Then my confirmation class went to visit the seminary, and my pastor pulled me aside and said he thought I could be a good pastor. He even visited my parents and talked to them about it.” 

Pray and encourage 

The next generation of pastors and teachers are still out there, waiting to make important decisions about their future. Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead some of them into public ministry. Then encourage them as they consider this noble task. Make that encouragement as sincere and specific as you can. 

Perhaps they will be like Kailyn Dabe who heard about the need for called workers at her church. “I was planning on going to a university near my home. . . . Then at church my pastor’s sermon followed the theme of ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’ After hearing his sermon, praying a lot, and talking with my family members and former teachers, I realized I wanted to be a teacher.” 

Do you know someone who has the talent to be a pastor or teacher? Pray! Encourage! Repeat! 

John A. Braun is the executive editor of Forward in Christ and a former college recruiter.

Student quotes from this article originally appeared in KnightWatch, MLC’s recruitment magazine for high school students. Thanks to Laurie Gauger-Hested for gathering and providing the information. Learn more about MLC at mlc-wels.edu. 

This is the first article in a two-part series on encouraging young men and women to consider the public ministry. 


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 9
Issue: September 2018

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