Guiding young lives to Christ
For Chris Dehning, teaching middle school students and serving as the principal at Trinity Lutheran School in Winfield, Kan., is more than a job — it’s a ministry calling. “Every day I get to connect with kids and help lead them to Jesus,” Dehning said.
He wakes up every morning, knowing the work God gave him to do—and he works with delight.
“Success for me means the future success of my students, that they are involved in their churches, are successful in their jobs, and love their families,” Dehning said.
The making of a teacher
Dehning’s roots reach deep into generations of Lutheran teachers, but he discovered his calling during his own middle school experience in South Texas.
“I helped my friends with schoolwork,” he said. “I explained it differently than the teacher, and their eyes lit up with understanding, That’s when I knew I loved teaching.”
An English teacher in his public high school, who happened to be Lutheran, also called out his gift and encouraged him to attend a Concordia university to study toward becoming a teacher.
“It’s so important for adults to see students and affirm their gifts,” he said.
Dehning attended Concordia University, Nebraska, Seward, and has served in teaching and administration at Lutheran schools for the past 13 years.
Teaching as ministry
“A smaller school means we get to know every student, and we have the opportunity to talk about the Bible and faith in all subjects, not just religion class or chapel,” Dehning said.
Recently, in the middle of teaching spelling, students started discussing the definition of a quandary. The conversation led to an impromptu exploration of the prophets Elisha and Elijah.
“We talked about how Elijah was able to follow what God was telling him, and then he was taken care of,” he said. “God fed him by birds and the widow’s oil and flour that miraculously kept supplying. We then talked about the importance of following God when we don’t know what step to take—and who we can talk to for advice, like parents, teachers and friends.”
Talking about spiritual things in everyday opportunities at school helps prepare the students for whatever is next. “Some of these students will stay with us until 8th grade, some not—most will end up in the public schools. We want to give them the best foundation of faith possible,” he said.
LCEF helps teachers with personal foundations
Less than two years ago, Dehning and his family (wife, Rachel, and two kids in first and third grades), looked into purchasing their first home. They turned to Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) for a mortgage because they wanted their financial decisions to bless others beyond their school and immediate home.
Dehning shared four reasons he’s glad they chose LCEF:
- They were easy to work with.
- They answered all their first-time homeownership questions.
- Their interest rates are competitive.
- All interest and payments help fund other Lutheran ministry and ministers.
“The Lutheran Church Extension Fund is doing a lot of great work,” Dehning said. “Why not indirectly support that ourselves?”
And now, Principal Dehning’s mortgage directly helps other Lutheran ministries and families.