Rev. Jesse Kueker (pictured left alongside Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Leininger and Rev. Micah Glenn.) Rev. Kueker served as Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton, MO. And now serves as an Admissions Officer at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Below are his insights into the pastoral office.
What was your path to become a pastor?
I had a faithful father and mother who made sure I was in church every Sunday, even if we were traveling. And they would talk highly of the pastoral office and about showing care and love for the pastoral office. When I was young, I was making my own communion set, pretending to have communion with my stuffed animals. In high school, I would be mowing and thinking about “...if I had a sermon, I would say this.” I think what really helped me was just watching Pastor [Craig] Otto, Pastor [Matthew] Marks, Pastor [Thomas] Handrick, and Pastor [David] Loy model what a caring pastor looks like and what it means to be a faithful shepherd under the Good Shepherd. And I just felt, “I’m supposed to do that too”.
Even then, though, it was a process. After I graduated college, first it was, I feel this calling, but I’m not going to be a pastor. Then it was, well I’ll be a pastor–but in 30 years. Then I felt, well maybe 5-10 years … I lasted a year. I joke that the Lord brought me to the Seminary kicking and screaming.
Now, I serve the church by serving at the Seminary, by talking to people about the possibility about becoming a lifelong church worker, to pray for them, to guide them, to guide them through the discernment process, “Is this for me?”.
How to prepare to become a pastor?
If you are a young man thinking about becoming a pastor, pray and read the Scriptures. Continue to go to church. Continue to take the next step in faith. It’s imperative that we form pastors. There are 6,000 congregations in the LCMS Synod, about 1,700 of them are empty. There’s a desperate need. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers. Continue to take the steps forward. If the Lord’s calling you, come!
What about being a pastor gives you joy?
Seeing people receive Christ’s gifts brings a pastor joy. ...That was the greatest joy of my week, to baptize a child or adult. And to give communion. Or when you’re preaching and you can see the people in the pew really receiving a sermon and learning. The greatest thing you can do for your pastor is to be in the church on Sunday.
Now, I’ve really enjoyed getting to meet with the young men who are still 6-7 years away from the Seminary, and they are inheriting a different world. Thirty years ago, everyone loved Christianity, sort of “the glory days” of Christianity. These young men recognize that this is a different time and that there’s hostility, and to see these young men acknowledge this and still say, “Yes, I want to serve in this office.” It’s amazing to see and strengthens my faith too.