Toughest Job by Stece Schroeder

The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love?


Professor O.’s guidance on career options placed before me two choices I had never really considered before. By all means, the Peace Corps appeared to be a noble undertaking. Growing up, I had seen the Saturday morning commercials advertising for volunteers to enlist in its ranks.

My impression of it was twenty-somethings going overseas to dig wells in third world countries. Each commercial ended with its catchphrase “The toughest job you’ll ever love.” Again, this was a worthy calling — just not the calling I was drawn to in my quest to get the requisite training to make myself a competitive applicant for a national security job.

His other suggestion, of which he had impressive considerable experience, was to pursue the military route. “They have their language school – the Defense Language Institute — in Monterey, California” he explained. “If you enlist as a linguist, you’ll go there to learn the language that you’ll be assigned.”

Immediately, this sounded more enticing, more in line with what I had envisioned. More Jason Bourne and less Tom Hanks from “Volunteers”. I figured that, while it wouldn’t be great money, it’s a lot better to get paid to learn a language than paying for the privilege. Besides, in my estimation there were worse places to be than hanging out on the central California coast for an extended period of time. It should be noted that this conversation took place in 1999 – an important point that will come into play later. Regardless, time to talk to some recruiters.

There was a different aspect of this struggle that troubled me for other reasons. My role at Luther Preparatory School was not only to teach religion but also to encourage the students to think about the preaching and teaching ministry – the purpose of LPS.

How does one deal with the contradiction of encouraging others to pursue it even as they sought another path away from public ministry?

Chaplain Steve Schroeder, CW4—Retired, served in both Afghanistan and Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, flying many mission in combat situations. A helicopter crash ended his flying career and opened the path for a ministry helping those experiencing severe trauma.