Mark G. Schroeder
Unique is a word that is often overused and misused. Unique does not mean very unusual. For something to be unique, it’s not enough for it to be very rare. No, something that is unique is literally one of a kind.
As Assignment Day at Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis., approaches, I wonder how often we stop to think about and give thanks for a truly unique blessing that we in the Wisconsin Synod enjoy. And when I say unique, I mean unique in the true sense of the word: not just something special or unusual or rare, but something that is truly one of a kind.
There is simply no other church body in the world that is blessed with a system for training pastors and teachers exactly like ours. In that system, nearly every person who will serve in the public ministry in our synod is trained at the same college. Most of the students at that college come from a system of two prep schools and nearly two dozen area Lutheran high schools. In this unique system nearly every pastor who will serve as a spiritual shepherd in our congregations is trained at the same seminary. In the eight years of high school and college that it takes to be trained as a teacher or staff minister, nearly every student has been taught by teachers and professors who all share the same faith and the same commitment to the Scriptures. The same can be said for those who spend 12 years preparing to be a pastor. In those years of education, students live in dormitories with fellow students who not only share the same faith but who also are thinking and praying about whether God might use them some day in the public ministry. Shared faith, shared goals, and a shared purpose make for something truly unique.
Then think of what happens on Assignment Day. At MLC, young men and women who have the talents and skills to succeed in every kind of career instead have dedicated their lives to serving as Lutheran teachers or staff ministers. At Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, young men who could have trained in nearly any field say with a sense of their own unworthiness, “Here am I, Lord, send me!” God has used this unique system not only to train young men and women in the skills they will need in their ministry but also to shape hearts, to strengthen faith, and to cause these students to marvel at the message they will proclaim.
And they are led to trust the Lord who is calling them. There they stand on Assignment Day, not having applied for a job, not having submitted a résumé to a prospective employer, not having interviewed for a position. Imagine this: They stand there on that day not knowing where they will serve, but they are ready to go anywhere they are sent. Think of the trust that takes in the heart of a young graduate. They trust their Lord because they know that the call that they will receive will be from him. They know that no matter where they will go or whom they will serve, the same Savior who is calling them will be with them and will bless their work in his name.
Sometimes we take blessings for granted. Our system for training called workers and the called workers produced by that system are blessings that should never be taken for granted. These blessings are from God, and they are truly unique.
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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 103, Number 5
Issue: May 2016
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