Rev. Dr. Allan R. Buss was elected president of the LCMS Northern Illinois District in 2018. During his presidency, the one thing everything we do will serve is “keeping the main thing the main thing,” faithfully serving the Gospel of Jesus Christ and sharing it in our community and the world. His commentaries help us unpack and apply this vision to church life everywhere.
Video: Christmas Message for Pastors
Video: Chicago Circuit Visits
Video: President Buss’ First 90 Days
Originally published in Our Northern Illinois District magazine Fall Edition 2018.
A Teacher: An Influencer
Recently, I took a brief trip through my report cards from grade school at St. John Lutheran School, Watertown, Wisconsin. On my eighth grade report card, you would find As, Bs, and Cs. I must admit, you would also find a D. In full disclosure, math was my challenge. (Lest you be concerned, high school, college and Seminary grades were much better.)
I tell you this, because I want you to know that there were people of influence in my life beyond my parents. This would include my 8th grade teacher, Mr. Carl Bartels. He was significant, not just for the grades he gave me, but for a notation he put on my report card. Just a few words, almost prophetic, “pursue work in the church.”
He saw something that I could not see. He saw some raw material that God might use, even with my lackluster grades, shyness, and other weaknesses. It might be like Jesus, who called the men who would be His Apostles, from fishing boats and a tax collecting booth. Jesus also taught them, led them, and influenced their lives to be useful for Him. His life expressed the costly grace that saved them and us.
Jesus is my only Savior, but Mr. Bartels was one of my influencers. He was used and even moved by God. Jesus is your Savior! That same Jesus raises up men and women to be influencers. Who is one of those people, beyond family, whom God used for your good when you were a child? Who is God using today to influence you for good?
This edition of Our Northern Illinois District is all about ministry to children. We have all been children. We have been in the womb, learned how to talk and walk, gone to school, been a part of a family, and endured challenges. We have gained friends and lost them.
You are not alone. What we have experienced, Jesus has also experienced. His life was for our lives and for the life of the world. Yet, as a child, “he grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52) He grew up and so have we. He is true man and God. He was tempted in every way we have been, yet He remained sinless for you. (Hebrews 4:15) We are fully God’s children through faith in Jesus Christ.
There is dignity to human life from the womb to natural death. There is dignity and value to children in your family, church, and community. You can be a good influence on the next generation. You can invest time, experience, talent, and money on the next generation. We are in this together…for the sake of children!
Our God-given desire and passion is that the children “would put their trust in God.” (Psalm 78:7)
About ten years ago, through a congregational member at Immanuel, Belvidere, I was able to call Mr. Bartels. It was a Saturday afternoon in the fall. I could tell the phone call was a surprise. He remembered me, but not what he had written 30 years earlier. I was able to thank him for his encouragement and influence. God used a few words written down to influence, encourage, and bless.
Thank you for encouraging and influencing the children in the Name of Jesus!
Rev. Dr. Allan R. Buss