Bishop Election Devotional for April 21, 2019


“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you.” But I said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me. I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!” God told me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’ I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there. I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it.  Don’t be afraid of a soul. I’ll be right there, looking after you.” God reached out, touched my mouth, and said, “Look! I’ve just put my words in your mouth—hand-delivered! See what I’ve done? I’ve given you a job to do among nations and governments—a red-letter day! Your job is to pull up and tear down, take apart and demolish, and then start over, building and planting.”  – Jeremiah 1:4-10 (The Message)


By Kathy McHenry (Executive Director, Lutheran Planned Giving of South Dakota)

Twenty years ago, I fell into a career I’d never aspired to, prepared for or considered.  I answered a phone call meant for someone else, and landed on a winding path that ultimately led to my current role with Lutheran Planned Giving of South Dakota.  I was encouraged to write down career and life goals. I don’t recall many, but I do remember this one clearly: “I want to be able to talk to a group of people without the need to breathe into a paper bag.” At the time, it seemed ridiculous, but also impossible.

Fast forward. I talk to people every day—sometimes individually, but often in large groups–about money and religion. Not exactly at the top of most people’s 100 Best Jobs in America list or The 25 Best Careers of 2019. But this work, this ministry, is what I refer to as “The Best Job in the World.”

And so today, when I read these words from Jeremiah, I think, “That’s me!”  God had this entire journey planned before I saw the light of day. The One who was there through the struggles and detours and adventures knew they would ultimately bring me to this great joy in speaking words of inspiration and education that lead groups and individuals to their own joy in making a difference through generosity. I don’t need a paper bag – the words are hand-delivered.

God has holy plans for each of us, including the person who will become the next Bishop of the South Dakota Synod. We are prepared in ways we can’t imagine, and often would never choose, for roles and tasks that we feel woefully ill-equipped to manage.

But what confidence we enjoy because of the knowledge that God’s leading, guiding hand is on our shoulders, and His words are in our mouths. As we focus on the coming election of a new bishop and the future of the church, we recognize that the work will likely involve some pulling up, tearing down, taking apart and even demolishing. But there will also be building and planting, nurturing and growing.

Hardships and challenges develop skills we may otherwise never discover. Empathy and understanding become a part of our being. We are prepared for unimaginable roles and responsibilities. We are transformed in ways that allow us to effectively, meaningfully, joyfully join God at work.

May we each accept our own holy plan. Let the adventure begin!


Gracious God,
Anticipating a new adventure, we come to you today without words or confidence of our own. Thank you for the reassurance that your hand is on the shoulder of the person who will be called to the office of Bishop, and on each of us.  May your hand-delivered words be evident in each of our conversations throughout this process as a witness to the life-changing power of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.


ELW 676 Lord, Speak to Us, That We May Speak



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