by Dr. Craig Ernstmeyer
I’m sitting here in my office as we start the 2019-2020 school year. Students are in their classes, teachers are their rooms, and we are off and running. It has been quite a journey to get to this point. Over the course of the last 90 days, our school building has gone through a massive renovation, the cost of which has eclipsed $1 million. My summer office was a science lab room with a roommate named “Jerry” (who is a snake). Over the course of the last four hundred or so days, we also have completed a building expansion project. All this to be able to serve more students. We also had to raise money to do both of these things which leads to the question, was there a summer 2019? There has just been so much muck.
So here we are—day three—and it doesn’t feel like the beginning. I’m tired. I have phones that don’t work, HVAC units that aren’t cooling, and parents asking for more financial aid. Where did the routine “honeymoon stage” of the school year go? Year sixteen in administration should be easier than this! This is only the professional side and doesn’t touch on the personal side, where I have taken my two girls to college in the last month. I’m tired, and it’s only 8:30 in the morning. Then I get a surprise visitor.
She’s the mom of a sophomore boy. She wasn’t sold on Lutheran High last year but her husband was all in. They had two older kids go through the public schools. She is in my office today to say thank you. Her husband of nearly 32 years, the big time LHS fan, is on hospice. They found out about his cancer in February. She is in to say thank you. She doesn’t know what kind of a response her son would have gotten in a public school. She knows that her son has been surrounded by love and prayers in a Lutheran school. Even as his dad was diagnosed, her son was diligent in his studies during his freshman year and even now. He is getting books and assignments today for the rest of the week (it’s Tuesday). His dad may not make through the week. More muck.
When I was going through leadership training, we read the book Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard. Our group added to the author’s themes of the spirit of the squirrel, the way of the beaver, and the gift of the goose. We added the “Muck of the Moose.” It started as a joke, but to me, this theme has come to remind me that ministry is messy and we can get bogged down. I share the story above as a reminder. Muck will happen my friends, but God, in His mercy, in His timing, shows His Son through it all. My visitor today reminded me of that! All the muck mentioned is just that, muck. As Paul mentioned in his book to Rome (5:3-5, 8:28), and as the author of Hebrews shared in chapter twelve, to “throw off everything that hinders us.”
You are each doing powerful ministry! Whether you believe it or not, you are! Continue to run the race! God has put you right where He needs you. Your muck may be different, but we serve the same powerful God. The next time you think about the size of the muck (yes, you will have it this year), replace that with thoughts of the size of our God. The muck won’t go away, but it will be easier to deal with knowing we have teammates, both here and in heaven, to help us through it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others and reach up to Him!