Jan 30, 2023 Print This Article

A long time coming

When I tell people that I have wanted to be a pastor since I was 13, the reaction is usually, “That’s so young!” Most times they continue by asking if my dad was a pastor and I tell them no, but my two grandpas were. I remember being in their churches as a little boy watching them lead the services.

Another factor that fueled my desire to be a pastor from a young age was the encouragement I received from others. I remember people telling me as early as age 10 or 11 that I had the gifts needed to be a pastor. These conversations, especially the ones from my uncles, are still so vivid in my memory. I know they made a big impact on me because at the time I had big dreams of playing basketball or going into law. Around confirmation age I had a dilemma. I had such great respect for my grandpas (the pastors) that I wondered if I could ever live up to them if I became a pastor. It was then that my senior pastor told me the story of his desire to be an engineer. He was on the path to register for his college classes in engineering when, at the last minute, he made the switch and decided to become a pastor. I’m not sure how the story really goes, but that’s how I remember it. His story let me know that regular people, not only super-hero grandpas, can do this work and do it well. With that, I was on my way.

Even though I had made the decision to go into the ministry, it was still a waiting game. I had a lot of school yet ahead of me. My passion fueled my desire to be involved in my home church in as many ways as possible, and I would joyfully share with others that was on my way to becoming a pastor. Jesus continued guiding my heart to further develop the skills I would need in the future. For example, I was often the listening ear that my friends needed at my high school in Kansas City. Then, in college, I had many ministry experiences as I participated in groups that helped welcome new students and others that led Sunday night worship time and compline services.

Then, finally, it was time to attend Concordia Seminary. It was a long time coming, and I was ready! Truth be told, Concordia Seminary lived up to everything I dreamed it would be. The campus was beautiful. I met so many people who were like me in their passion for ministry and life. I built life-long friendships and amazing memories. I was so excited when the day finally arrived for me to receive my first pastoral call. Today I can look back on my journey and see the many people Jesus put in my life to encourage me and I’m so thankful. I love being in ministry and sharing the hope of Jesus with people.

Rev. Will Hanke received a Master of Divinity in 2007 from Concordia Seminary and is serving as pastor at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Mo.