by Dwayne Jobst
After prayerful consideration I have announced my retirement at the end of the academic year as Principal at Lake Country Lutheran High School (Hartland, WI). It seems like only yesterday that I told my family goodbye from our farm in Iowa and got into my ‘74 Mustang to begin my ministry in Ohio. Where did those 42 years go? It is humbling to think of how many teachers, students, and families God has placed in my path. I will cherish those memories and the impact that these people have had on my life.
Perhaps like many of you, I never sat in the desk as a high school student and dreamed about becoming an administrator in one of our Lutheran high schools. If anything, this is the last place I thought that God would use me in His kingdom, with stops in Cleveland (23 years), Milwaukee Lutheran (12 years), and these last seven years at Lake Country Lutheran.
I do recall a conversation with my father when I told him I was praying about leaving the comfort of being a counselor, religion teacher, and coach to become the Assistant Principal at Lutheran West in Rocky River. He gave me some great advice. “Just say No!” As a former school board member who helped merge two public schools, he saw firsthand the toll that administrators endured in their vocation. He counseled me that every move principals made would be scrutinized and analyzed under a microscope. He ended that conversation with more encouragement: “Just say No!” It was less than 48 hours later that I called him back and told him I was going to accept the position. He then gave me some fatherly wisdom I still use today. He said, “Dwayne, if you can sleep through the night, you made some great decisions today...if God awakens you during the night, you should prayerfully reconsider your decisions of that day.” I can’t tell you how helpful this has been these past 42 years, especially the last 32 years I have spent in administration. Many of those nights you could have found me in God’s Word or on my knees in prayer. May this fatherly advice help you as God has called you to lead your Lutheran school.
In my reflections of these past 42 years, there are things early on in my ministry that I thought were important, and that I labored tirelessly for, that I now realize have little or no eternal value. Growing enrollments, school awards, state championships, personal recognition and titles—these all pale compared to knowing that God may have used you and me to make an eternal difference in the lives of the people who God placed in our schools. I often remind my parents during orientation events that every time you are writing out a tuition check to write in the pay to order line the word “eternity.” Don’t write the name of the high school on the pay to order line. Instead write the word “Eternity.”With tears in my eyes, I remind them that this is the investment they are making in their sons and daughters. How do you put a price tag to that? It is simply priceless.
Like many of you, I have held the hands of family members as you tearfully say your goodbyes to their loved ones who have been placed in the arms of Jesus. How difficult this is, especially when you are saying goodbye to a high school student who lived life fully, but much to short. Your conversation is not about how many points they scored in the games, or their ACT scores, or future plans. You talk about eternity and the reunion that awaits with their loved ones.
In my last count, I have played a role to help 28 students earn military appointments. Some of these graduates have proudly gone on to be further trained as Navy Seals or Army Rangers. They have received their training to defend our freedom, so that we can boldly speak of the one who freed us from the evil foe on the cross at Calvary. In their intense training, they are reminded if they ever want to give up, just ring the bell. I am sure at times you have felt like ringing the bell. There were times I wanted to ring the bell, but with God as my rock, I endured and pushed on. My partners in ministry resist ringing the bell. Don’t ever give up as you are making a difference for today and for eternity. Thank you for your partnership these past 42 years. You will never know the eternal difference you have made.
I know God is not done with me yet. I have already responded to His call, I just don’t know the address. I can’t wait to see how He will use me.
All for Him!
Your humble servant of Christ!