I’ve had students who entered business, medicine, law, engineering, politics, teaching…. I’ve even had a couple of pop music stars. And now for something completely different! (As the Monty Python guys used to say.)
Meet my former student, Jon Schreiner, who’s taken a road less traveled.
He comes to us via Owatonna High School, Drake University, and a few other stops along the way….
What do you do for work?
I graduated with a business degree from Drake University and initially had every intention of global domination. I wanted to make tons of money, retire early and live on a lake-every Minnesotan’s dream. God had a different plan for me, and I ended up doing college ministry for 7 years, and I now pastor a small church planted in Des Moines, IA. Walnut Creek is a non-denominational church that was started with about 50 other people who moved from the church I was attending. We are boasting about 175 people a week, which at times feels like how a fisherman tells you about his latest catch. For real though, 175.
What I actually do for work changes day by day. I used to think serving as a pastor meant hosting pot-lucks, and visiting people in nursing homes. I laugh, because that really is part of the job, but its so much more. My goal is to see people transformed to be more like Jesus, and then train and equip them to do my job (just maybe eventually somewhere else). As far as tasks to see this accomplished, it looks different every day. I am a public speaker, bible study leader, event planner, marketing representative, visionary, mentor, friend, counselor, accountant, and ambassador for Jesus (not necessarily in that order).
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is seeing God change people, and getting to be a tool to be used in that process. When I went to Drake, I didn’t expect to be where I am. I went to church, knew about God and was generally a good person. Then, I met this buddy, we became best friends, and he lived like no person I had ever met. He lived like Jesus told people to live. Extremely kind, funny, loyal — the friend you always want, but think may not be real. I was challenged, my life looked nothing like his, and yet I claimed the same God. Eventually, after reading the bible, learning not just the stories, but the teachings of God, I realized I’m not as good a guy as I thought. The bible teaches that compared to God, no one is good. Every person makes mistakes, including “perfect” me. Thankfully, Jesus came into the world and died to be the payment for my sin. All my good works didn’t make up for my mistakes, only God was able to do that, and so I believed that Jesus really did die for my sins. Not having to be perfect to be accepted by God and others changed everything for me. Even though I grew up in the church, I think I understood Jesus for the first time and became a Christian my first year of college.
I share all that, because that is the kind of affect I want to, and get to, have on others. I want to be a friend who will live like Jesus, and allow God’s word to affect others. Lives and eternities are transformed moment by moment everyday, and I get to be a part of that. How could anything else be my favorite part of my job?
What do you do for fun & enrichment?
Fun for me has changed over the years. I still love sports, backyard football, pickup basketball, ultimate Frisbee and Kan Jam. However, having 3 (almost 4) kids has transformed that somewhat. Now, I get to coach my oldest child in sports. As a family, we enjoy travelling to Minnesota and Kansas to visit family. In a way, I got part of my lake house dream as we visit our parents’ lake houses on each side of the family.
How did you prepare for your life & career so far?
Getting a business degree is probably not your typical pathway to becoming a pastor. But, what I learned at Drake University was invaluable. I was a resident assistant in the first year dorms following my freshman year. This is what really prepared and pushed me into ministry because I got my first true taste of serving others. When I was graduating, I could not get Matthew 6:33 out of my head “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you.” I wanted to be wherever God wanted me. That could have been a white-collar job, it could have been working oversees with missions or even with underprivileged people in Des Moines. But I saw God using me with people at the same stage of life He changed me: college. Having that opportunity to live with first year students and influence their college experience in a positive way helped me see I wanted to continue doing exactly that after I graduated.
Ministry is really about loving God and loving people. The best way to prepare to be a pastor is to spend time with God in prayer and in reading his word; then spending time with people living out what you are learning. That is enjoying the good times with others and walking next to people through the tough times.
What are you proud of?
This seems petty, but in high school I was voted most likely to succeed, and I feel like it’s been true. I don’t mean this in its natural comparative sense, like I am doing better than others. What I mean is, I don’t know what else I could have chosen to do that would have offered more success for me. My understanding of success has changed. Living for Christ is the greatest thing anyone can ever do, and I am proud to be a part of what God is doing through me.
What advice can you give younger people as they prepare for the adult world?
I like this question and could type until my fingers fell off, but will spare you from most of my words of wisdom I force on my own family. However, I would give this piece of advice, figure out what you are doing and why. I loved my class with Metzler because he would always ask “What do you know, and how do you know it?” This question was essential in my life totally changing directions. I realized I was striving for something unattainable, the perfect life. The harder I tried, the more fleeting it was. I came to the conclusion that this life is fleeting, and I want to be ready for the next. Faith in God has to be internalized and individual, but I would challenge all people to take an honest look at religions. I believe Christianity is the truth, but I also welcome others to look into all faiths and decide what they think about God. Is there one? Is it knowable? What does this mean for me?
I let all my preconceived notions get in the way with asking some very basic questions about God. Once I stopped imposing what I thought I knew and started asking honest questions, God changed me. Are you open to asking tough questions about yourself and life? You wont regret it.
You can learn more about the church or contact me through the website at walnutcreekchurch.org. I am at the south location.