Rev. Michael G. Warmbier
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
I remember the earliest “I See In You” conversations people had with me. They were repeated often over many years. I grew up in the oldest congregation in the Northwest District – St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sherwood, Oregon. Since its establishment in 1878 the congregation had a long history of encouraging professional church workers through its parochial school and financial support of both our local Concordia College and Concordia Seminary.
My late father Glen always wanted to go into the Public Ministry, but as a younger son in a German Lutheran Minnesota family, he was not afforded the opportunity. In that culture, only the eldest son attended college. The rest entered the work force. He worked in the construction trades and eventually was self-employed as a remodeling contractor. He also remained very active as a layman holding many different offices, particularly Elder. He hoped that his son could have the opportunity that he did not. He was a great encourager for my training in church work. When I enrolled at Concordia College with aspirations for the Director of Christian Education program, he encouraged me to consider the seminary. “I think you have the gifts to be a pastor.”
At St. Paul we had a robust program of Christian education in the 1960s and 70s. Our congregation had a multi-age Midweek School of Religion that featured catechism instruction for the jr. confirmands as well as elementary students. My 6th grade pre-catechism teacher, the late Fred List, always encouraged me to become a pastor. He was persistent in telling me he “saw in me the aptitude to be a pastor.”
My pastor for those years was the late Rev. Carl Losser. He was tireless in telling me: “If your father doesn’t make you a carpenter, I will make a pastor out of you.” He continued to encourage me with words and actions. He had the practice of assigning his own confirmation verse (John 8.31) to young men and women he saw as suitable candidates to professional church work. It is a practice I have since adopted myself.
During my own ministry I have been blessed to encourage a number of people into professional church work, including several LCMS pastors, deaconesses, teachers, and one CU president. “I see in you …” is a statement I have made often, just as I heard it often.
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 submitting it at the bottom of our Stories page or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.