Where's He Comin' From













My Personal Educational & Spiritual Autobiography

Glen Dawursk, Jr.—January 15, 2002


My educational and spiritual journeys are really one and the same.  I know that God has placed me upon a path intended for ministry.  When I look back upon my life experiences, I see how God has molded me into a DCE and continues to use me as my ministry expands.  Like a piece of tapestry, I see the back of my life with the unattached frays and the streams of knotted strings and wonder what is the purpose in God plan for my ministry and life; but God sees the front.  He sees the completed tapestry of my life and knows why He has knitted my experiences; and to Him, it is good.

My mother was raised Wisconsin Synod Lutheran and my father was Roman Catholic.  When they decided to get married, they discussed what church they would get married in.  My mother attended the Catholic Church’s membership class for my father, but found that she was not able to accept the conflicting beliefs.  Instead of becoming a member, she signed a document that stated that all children born would be baptized into the Catholic faith.  This was required if they were going to be married at my father’s church. 

Seven years later, the week before I was to start kindergarten, they were still arguing about baptism.  My parents argued about where, when and why – but at 5 and half years old, I still was not baptized.  On a trip a few years prior, turbulence on the airplane scared my mother so much that she had my younger sister baptized without my father’s knowledge before taking the return flight home.  When he was told, he was angry because now he thought he would be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.  He made a new deal with his priests and he agreed to have the girls be Lutheran and the boys be Catholic.  Needless to say, my mom would not give in. 

On August 25th, 1963, Pastor Leisner of Trinity Lutheran Church (WELS) in Milwaukee, WI finally baptized me.  The baptism was held after the service and no one but my mom, my aunt and uncle, the pastor and me were present.  I will never forget my mom’s lasting words of encouragement to me as I walked down the aisle.  She said quietly into my ear, “If you laugh when he pours water on your head, you’re gonna’ get it when you get home.”  Needless to say, I did not laugh – but God did!  He was thrilled to have me as part of His family.

I started kindergarten at Trinity Lutheran School the following week.  However, I was an unusual child.  I knew that God was calling me already then.  On the way home from school, my mom and I would pass an old boarded up church.  I would comment to my mom that that would be my church someday, and that mom and dad could sit in the front pew.  My hope has always been to fulfill that dream.

I attended Lutheran schools all my life and began attending LCMS schools in second grade when we moved closer to St. Peter-Immanuel Lutheran Church in Milwaukee.  It was here that I found my faith growing rapidly. I would walk 12 blocks to church by myself each Sunday and always sat in the front pew.  I loved being in church.  I knew the services by memory and could recite hymns, prayers and other parts of liturgy. 

I have always desired to be in church work and as a child looked forward leading classroom devotions.  My devotions usually included a skit, several Bible readings, songs and of course a sermon.  A 20-minute “service” was not unusual.  My dad often made “bulletins” for me on his copy machine.  I never realized how unique I was until my daughters expressed little or no desire to be at church in second grade. 

I never hid the fact that I wanted to be in church work.  My nickname in school was “rabbi” and I always participated in Christian activities throughout grade school and at Milwaukee Lutheran High School.  I especially enjoyed Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ, Christian Minstrels (a high school singing group), and my church youth group.  I was also on the South Wisconsin District Youth Board and was a youth delegate to the LCMS convention in Irvine, TX in 1976. 

I attended Concordia – Seward on a Music and Leadership Award of Excellence.  At college, I was in the pre-sem program for several years and participated as a “Folk Team” leader, as editor of the newspaper Sower, and in the Concordia Singers accapella choir.  In my sophomore year, I even developed a four month field experience for the DCE and education programs where I toured with the college-age Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ youth evangelism program.  We witnessed about our faith in Jesus door-to-door in 37 states and sang and did skits and puppetry as well.  I also participated in doctrinal studies during this time under the direction and mentorship of Rev. Fred Darkow, the founder of OAFC.

The following year I married Kathy Naatz at St. Peter-Immanuel in Milwaukee.  During our almost 4 years at Concordia, Kathy and I “lost” track of our faith walk.  We seldom attended the campus church and only occasionally did I attend the daily campus chapel service.  Our work and studies took a priority above God.  When it came time to choose my ministry concentration, I realized that I had moved away from my walk, and that I should wait to become a pastor or a DCE.  I decided to become an LCMS secondary teacher.  After all, I wanted to work with youth and this allowed me to pursue my degree while I sought out the Lord’s direction in my life; but God had other ideas. 

Upon graduation in 1982, I was given a call to teach at Lutheran High School – North in Houston, Texas.  While in Houston, Kathy and I transferred our membership to Our Saviors Lutheran Church.  Here the Holy Spirit started to re-build our faith walk.  In addition to classroom teaching, I also coordinated several after school activities.  The relationship building drew me quickly back into youth ministry.  While still a full time teacher at North, I was soon hired also as a part time youth director at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Houston.  I was responsible for teaching youth Bible study and coordination of all junior and senior high activities. 

A year later, I was called back to the Milwaukee area.  Martin Luther High School, as sister school to the high school I had attended, needed a new English and communications teacher and I was their choice.  I taught there for 4 years.  I loved teaching at Martin Luther, but I was tempted by a significant pay increase working in the secular market.  I eventually went to work for a corporate computer education company called Softworks University.  Here I taught adults computer education, curriculum development and technology based learning and received several certifications in Adult Computer education.  Nevertheless, I have regretted that decision most of my life.  I missed my full time professional church ministry and God knew it.

During this time in Milwaukee, Kathy and I became members again at our old church, St. Peter-Immanuel.  There I was hired as the half-time paid DCE and I also became the congregational president 9 years later.  I continued to work at Softworks University as well.  Needless to say, I was not home very much.  My role at St. Peter was extensive.  I ran Sunday School, VBS, led youth and adult Bible studies, directed a major summer Christian music festival called “Fisherman’s Festival,” and was an active leader on the District’s Youth Committee.   The one thing that kept my family in tact was that my wife assisted me throughout and eventually took on her own leadership role in the congregation as the PTL president.  Again, God put it all together.

Around 1994-95, I again started to sense a yearning to go into full time church work again.  Our faith walk had become strong and we felt God calling us.  I was given a call in 1996 to be the Minister of Youth and Children at Trinity in Wausau, WI.   We moved here in the summer of 1996 and have seen God do significant miracles in the ministries I get to work with.  For example, the youth ministry is flourishing with three youth groups, active Bible studies and small groups, multiple puppet teams, bands, sports programs and a youth house; our Sunday school is breaking records with almost 300 children; our VBS has had two record breaking years with almost 250 each; and most importantly, children and youth are coming to know Jesus as their personal Savior.  The last 6 years have been the most powerful and rewarding time in my life.  I even get to lead liturgy and give sermons regularly to a congregation of 3000+.  I really love my ministry and I cannot imagine doing anything else.  All the “frays” in my life are being used at this place called Trinity.

There have been several people who I have considered role models of faith in my life.  Pastor Dennis Pegorsch has been a significant mentor and support throughout all my life.  As the Assistant Pastor at St. Peter-Immanuel in Milwaukee, he often encouraged me in my desire to be a church worker.  I have known him since about my 2nd grade.  He even confirmed my wife and I.  How ironic – or rather how God intended – that we should now work together in ministry at Trinity in Wausau, WI where he is the Associate Pastor and I am the Minister of Youth and Children.  God is good!

While growing up at St. Peter, it was Mr. Stellwagon, our principal and 8th grade teacher, who challenged me academically.  His discussions in the classroom about life always made me seek out answers in the Bible.  He has since died and I regret never being able to tell him what an impact he had on my life.

In high school, my mother was very mentally and physically abusive.  Due to a medical condition, my mother experienced a type of PMS all the time.   I felt lonely, angry and frustrated a lot.  I was a good kid.  I never hung out with bad kids, never drank, smoked or did drugs – yet I was put-down and ostracized at home.  I used to hate my mom and even thought about dying.  I praise God for the spiritual mentorship and caring of Mr. Hilbert Wiedenkeller the choir director at Milwaukee Lutheran High School.  Through Him, Jesus was real to me; Jesus had “skin on.”  He taught me so much about faith and testing and God.  I was so blessed to be able to teach his youngest daughter years later when I became a high school teacher.  I get to see him occasionally, and every time we meet, his smile tells me again that Jesus is alive in Him and that He is very proud of how God is using me. 

After High school it was Pastor Elmer Scheck who became my mentor, biggest cheerleader and friend.  He started as the Senior Pastor at St. Peter-Immanuel in Milwaukee when I was a senior in high school.  He observed me as I led the youth group as a high school student and encouraged me years later when I returned as the congregation’s Director of Christian Education.  He always encouraged my creativity and trusted my judgment and he continues to support my ministry in his retirement. He is a man of significant energy and drive and I especially respected his work ethic.  His spiritual motivation for evangelism and his church growth principals were innovative and inspiring.  I hope that I will emulate these aspects of Pastor Scheck throughout my ministry.

There continue to be people who make an impact on me.  Over the past 22 years, it has been the compassion of my wife who has made me see Jesus.  It has been the joy of my children.  Most recently, it has been watching my six-year-old son take an old Lutheran Hymnal, prop it against and old wooden cross, and then pretend that he is the pastor or choir director at his church.  When I see how God has blessed me, I cannot see me doing anything else but being in His ministry.

Three years ago I felt a significant yearning to be a pastor and my wife and I visited the St. Louis seminary campus.  We were so impressed, but at that time, we felt the “newness” of my call to Trinity and where our children were at in school limited us from moving on – but things have changed.  During the past 10 months, Kathy and I have both felt God’s prodding – and this time it is more intense.  The problem is we are still searching for His direction.  We feel as though God has another “fray” planned on my tapestry.  This certification process may be the means by which God will provide discernment and wisdom.  Through prayer, we have decided to let the lay people that I have trained take on more leadership in our ministries.  As for our children’s future, we are just going to trust God.  Like Abraham, we have decided to simply, GO!  I guess, the Holy Spirit has finally told us to “let go and let God.”  We no longer have anything to fear.  God is in total control.  Where He leads us, we will follow.

As for my parents, they are both Lutheran now.  They attend weekly a WELS congregation in Richfield, WI where they are being nurtured and loved by God.  Plus, they are very excited for our family’s continuing adventure and they always look forward to coming through the doors of any church I minister at and sitting in that “front pew.”

And as for me, my Tapestry continues be directed by the designer, God.  He is the weaver who keeps my tapestry whole and I desire to be used by Him.


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My Personal Philosophy

Glen Dawursk, Jr.—(As taken from a sermon on August 21, 2002)


A young man was walking through a supermarket to pick up a few things when he noticed an old lady following him around. Thinking nothing of it, he ignored her and continued on. Finally he went to the checkout line, but she got in front of him.

"Pardon me," she said, "I'm sorry if my staring at you has made you feel uncomfortable. It's just that you look just like my son, who I haven't seen in a long time."

"That's a shame," replied the young man, "is there anything I can do for you?"

"Yes," she said, "as I'm leaving, can you say 'Good bye, Mother!' It would make me feel so much better."

"Sure," answered the young man. As the old woman was leaving, he called out, "Good bye, Mother!" As he stepped up to the checkout counter, he saw that his total was $127.50. "How can that be?" he asked, "I only purchased a few things!"

"Your mother said that you would pay for her," said the clerk.


Saying Good-bye is always a little strange.  It is always uncomfortable.

In an online survey CNN quizzed almost 5000 people about
”How good they are at leaving?”

11% said "Terrible.  I'm always too glad to get out to keep it together."

Almost 40% said "So, so. I've been better at it in some cases than others."

And more than half said "Excellent.  I always leave them laughing in case
I want to come back." 


In the past 3 months, my wife and I made one of the most difficult decisions our family has ever made.  We decided to move from a church and community we love—Trinity Wausau, to Hartland.  We have made more friends in 6 years at Trinity than we have in all our life.  So then why leave?  Because when God calls, like Abraham, we listen and we just go.


But now what do I say to my friends?  What lasting words could I impress upon them one last time?  I could talk about memories we've had.  Such as National Youth Gatherings to Atlanta and New Orleans, 4 years of Rainbow Valley, concerts at the fair, our youth house and our awesome Sunday school and VBS staffs.  I could tell stories.  But that did not seem like enough.


When I checked scripture, I found that Paul was a man who often had to say "Goodbye."  How did he do it?  In 2 Corinthians 13:11-14 we hear Paul saying,


Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Greet one another with a holy kiss.

All the saints send their greetings.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


Listen to my appeal.  Paul wanted his words to remain in their hearts.  He went around sharing his faith, presenting his witness, and instructing the new church – in all, he presented his personal Philosophy of Ministry.


Wow, what words have I said over the past 6 years that I would like to have remain in the hearts and thoughts of my leaders? 

So I started to think about what phases have I said often over the past years.  I came up with several.  For instance: "If you like Coke...you must be OK."  Or "That is the story of my life." Or one of my favorite phrases is "It's a no brainer!" 


In ministry, scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit will give us the word to say. So when I looked deeper, I found that I indeed have things I wanted my ministry staff and the church as a whole to remember.  Things I feel the Holy Spirit has called me to share in ministry. I call them Mr. D-isms.


"Do it well or don't do it."

Don't settle for mediocre, God doesn't.  Ministry should always try to achieve the best for God and we should our best in everything we do.  Bonhafer emphasizes this in his book Life Together when he discusses our roles in the community of Christ.  He implies that we are in “constant” worship of God.  Even prayer, our closest communication with God s done without ceasing…24/7. 


The Old Testament tells us about the requirements for a holy sacrifice to God.  We are told that God expects the First or Best offering to him.  In the New testament we are told that we are living sacrifices to Him.  Our lives are our best offering to Him and He desires our "first" offering not our second best.


"Always think big - God does!"

God will use whatever we do for His good if it gives glory to Him; but too often we think too small – especially in ministry. 


In the book “Built To Last” the author coins a word for how corporations survive significant changes – even in leadership.  He says they survive because their employees are propelled forward by “BHAD.”  Big Hairy Audacious Goals.  Just like business, ministry which has big audacious goals will thrive over a long period of time.


Our God is a God who thinks BHAD.  He thinks very big.  He shows His greatness in creation, in salvation, in eternity.  Revelations tells of the grandeur of His second coming.  He could easily have come quietly in the night - but He desires for us to "shout from the mountain tops."


"I only tease those who I like, that's why I never tease...."

I believe ministry must be a joy not a job.  It must be fun.  Martin Luther once said, "If there wasn't laughter in Heaven, He didn't want to go there."  Our God has blessed us with humor.  He doesn't want us to approach ministry as a joke, but He does desire us to have fun in ministry.  "The joy of the Lord is our strength."


"God doesn't speak to His church with a whisper - he speaks to His church with Pentecost and MTV-style effects.   "We have an MTV- Multi-media God."

When we look at scripture we see that our God spoke to His church with a wind which rushed so loudly that thousand were drawn to a room filled with Galileans.  There, they witnessed the MTV special effect of flames resting on their heads and men speaking in languages from across the world.  And the people were amazed.  In the Old Testament, when Moses went up to the mountain for 40 days, God put on another MTV special effects display.  Fire and smoke and thunder and lightning flashed from the mountain.  And the people were amazed.  27 times in the Gospels, the writers tell us the people were amazed.  When we are humbled before the Lord, and...

After He has your attention (We are amazed), then He speaks to our hearts with a whisper."  Ministry should still include the epic moments.  "Worship should be a 'surround sound' experience.  It should move you."



When we look at Him in Godly fear and honor and praise, then He speaks to our hearts with His Holy Spirit.  Then He has fellowship and communion with us. 


 "God says it, I believe it, that settles it."


This is the key belief of the Lutheran Christian Confessions.


There is a story which circulates around Princeton University about Aaron Burr.  He was the third VP of the United States but is better known for his killing of Alexander Hamilton in a duel.  Well, as a student at Princeton a traveling revival came though town and many of the students had become excited about their religion and sought to engage Burr.  He instead decided to lock himself in his room until he could decide what he was going to do about this “relationship with God” thing.  Hours passed.  Then in the middle of the night, he swung open his window shudders and as they crashed against the outside dorm walls, he yelled “Goodbye God.” 


I am not talking about atheist or agnostics even though they too have said Good bye – rather, I am talking about leaders IN the church.  Many of our peers in ministry have said Good bye to God.  Too often we try to explain everything.  Our world would have us to believe that everything is logical and explainable. 


Faith is not a part of the New Age thinking.  Satan would have you to believe that only things that are explainable are acceptable to live by.  But, God says and does things that are not explainable.  Bread and Body?  Wine and Blood?  Baptism water?  Faith itself?  They are all unexplainable.  The word Sacrament itself is a derivative for the Latin word, Mystery.  So I say, if God says it, believe it.  Period. If God says He can make the world with a few words.  Can He?  Then why do we try to explain away His power through the hypothesis of Evolution?  If God says it, I believe it and that settles it.  While I believe we need to “think outside the box” in our approach – after all, I think that is were God is, we need to stay consistent in our truth if our ministry’s are to survive.


"Many of us are just a foot away from really experiencing Jesus."  (Head to Heart) "We need to get our 'head knowledge' to become 'heart knowledge.'"


As we teach confirmation, we try very hard to put "head knowledge" about the doctrines of the Christian faith into our youth.  We do the same with our teachings at Bibles studies, Life With God, or through sermons on Sunday.  But all this is just information.  All of this "head knowledge" itself does not save our soul.  Salvation is based upon our "heart knowledge."  The Kennedy program of evangelism says that we are 13 inches away from going to heaven.  Even the Devil knows the Bible by memory, but that does not save Him for He has not received faith in His heart.  Faith is based upon fact, but salvation is the emotional receiving of Jesus into our lives.  It is a relationship not simply a religion.


"Satan works hardest on the Christians, because the non-Christians are already his."

"Praise God when we are tested.  God must have a lot of confidence in us 'cause He says He will never give us more than we can handle.  Our synod is going through significant testing right now.  This campus is going through testing now.  But I believe testing is a way in which God teaches us to grow.  It is His way of giving us advanced education.


"We need to be 'Jesus with skin-on' to others."


There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer, and he started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old man. He was sitting in the park, staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old man looked hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie. He gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. His smile was so awesome that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer. Once again, He smiled at him. The boy was delighted.

They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, yet they never said a word.

As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave. Before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old man and gave him a hug. The old man gave him the boy the biggest smile ever. When the boy opened the door to his own home a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face.

She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?"

He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? He's got the most awesome smile I've ever seen!"

Meanwhile, the old man, also radiant with joy, returned to him home. Him son was stunned by the look of peace on him face, and he asked, "Father, what did you do today that made you so happy?"

He replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God." But before him son responded, He added, "You know, he's a lot younger than I expected."


Ministry is getting down to the level of the person we are relating to and learning their story.  It is doing ministry not just talking about it.  St. Francis Assisi once said, “Share the Gospel, and when necessary, use words.”  Too often we forget how Jesus did ministry.  He met a woman, a Samaritan at the well.  He went to eat with tax collectors.  He touched lepers. 


Well, that is a few of my D’isms – Words which reflect my philosophy of ministry.


And as I enter into my next call and begin teaching, working and ministering in another congregation I can only pray the prayer again that Paul said in 2 Corinthians,


May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.



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