“I See In You” Story: Rev. Jonathan Dinger

Counceling Center

An “I See In You” story is when someone identifies a ministry gift of quality in a person and speaks encouragingly to him or her about it. These “I See In You” stories are from people in the NOW District who have been invited into leadership through conversations with others who saw that gift in them. They are all part of the NOW Leadership Initiative (NOW L.I.), which is a unified effort to identify and prepare God’s people to be laborers for his harvest. Do you have a story to share? Consider posting it or email elenas@nowlcms.org for assistance.

Rev. Jonathan Dinger
Grace Lutheran Church
Pocatello, Idaho

Growing up in a home full of church workers makes for some interesting expectations. My mom was a Lutheran school principal. My dad wrote VBS materials for Synod and was an executive at LCUSA. My brothers were teachers and principals. Their spouses were teachers. All in the LCMS school system. All my schooling was in Lutheran day schools. So there was just an unspoken expectation within our family that I also would follow in that path. Imagine my folks’ surprise when I enrolled at the U of Idaho in Moscow to study forestry my senior year of high school!

But I ended up at Concordia Portland… When in college, I don’t think anyone “saw in me” the makings of a pastor or a called church professional. I’ve often said that I’m very grateful that “all the videotapes have been lost” of my years in high school and college. I’m always a bit nervous when I am with classmates from those years while I occupy the pastoral office and serve in elected capacity in our district. What memory might they share of my poor choices, arrogance, and aimless wandering from God?!

So it took God a while to drag me back to Him, and His patience and my wife Teresa’s great love drew me closer and closer to the redemptive heart of Jesus. It caught me off guard when I finally (kicking and screaming) chose to enter the seminary (after dropping out 7 years earlier) to pursue pastoral ministry. It was then that people said, “Finally! I wondered when you’d finally wake up and do what God’s made clear to the rest of us!” From my wife to my brother; from my pastor at St. Luke’s (Vic Hippe) to my Principal (Bob Christian) at Seattle Lutheran High. From college professors to my softball teammates to fellow elders, I was overwhelmed that people affirmed a decision so joyfully when I had agonized over it for so long. So my story isn’t “I see in you…” Instead, my story came in reverse! And it showed God’s relentless love — and great sense of humor — that I should be so blessed to serve His people and share His grace.

Share on: