Yesterday in worship, Derek Roe talked about mentors in his time with us and our children.  I certainly have learned so much by observing seasoned pastors, learning from them the many nuances of pastoral leadership.  They all were males.  I now wonder what I could have learned, should have learned, from women who have served in ministry.  There were very few women serving in the early 1960’s, with none in my seminary preparing for Christian ministry.

I began making a list of the five people who had most significantly influenced me in my practice of ministry.  I updated the list every 5 years or so, with some remaining and others taking the place of previous people.  There were two who always made the list.  One was my father, Arthur Krueger.  He was the only one of seven children from a blue collar family in Buffalo, NY, who went beyond the 12th grade.  Riding a train from Buffalo to rural Wisconsin as a 16 year old, he thrived in a classic European education at Mission House Academy, graduated from Heidelberg College and Mission House Theological Seminary.  He served churches in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana, even devoted 11 years as President of Lakeland College.  He died too young, age 63, after leading Sunday School and worship.  We certainly were not clones of each other in the ways we think and serve, but he has always been my mentor.

The second person who always made the list was Louis Gunnemann, a United Church of Christ theologian, Dean of our seminary in the Twin Cities, and a gentle servant leader.  He became my surrogate father when my Dad died, always encouraging me along the way. 

The other three were practicing pastors who moved in and out of my lists, people who taught me so much about the craft and privileges of pastoral ministry as I devoted myself to this calling.  You may want to accept the challenge of compiling such a list for yourselves, even remembering to thank them for helping you to shape your own lives.

I want to share some wisdom my sister-in-law has sent me, words and insights from a variety of wise and thoughtful people.

“No matter how educated, talented, rich or cool you think you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all.”

“In life, it’s important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong.”

“Don’t trust everything you see.  Even salt looks like sugar.

“A ship is always safe at shore but that is not what it’s built for.”  Albert Einstein

“A smart person knows what to say.  A wise person knows whether to say it or not.”

“Many people think that patience is a sign of weakness.  I think this is a mistake.  It is anger that is a sign of weakness, whereas patience is a sign of strength.”

“Any fool can know.  The point is to understand.”  Albert Einstein

“Politicians should wear sponsor jackets like NASCAR drivers; then we know who owns them.”  Robin Williams.

“in America they call it ‘lobbying.’  Everywhere else in the world they call it ‘Bribery & Corruption.”

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers.”  Socrates

Peace, John Krueger