MDiv Student Kylee Bestenlehner on Committing to Serving Others

Kylee Bestenlehner standing in front of lake Michigan against the Chicago skyline

For MDiv student Kylee Bestenlehner, the certainty that came first was the knowledge that she wanted to dedicate her life to serving others. That certainty, for Bestenlehner, overrode other uncertainties—uncomfortable uncertainties like not being entirely sure, after graduating college, what she wanted to do with her life.

Faced with lots of possibilities, Bestenlehner moved home to Henderson, Nevada and dedicated herself to her community, which was largely centered around her church. “My pastors invited me to start doing things at the church,” she recalls. “So, I started teaching a children’s chorus and teaching middle school kids how to play ukulele. We learned together, that was fun.” Still, though, the question how can I be of service? lingered.  

The pastors at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church were there to help. They took the opportunity to connect Bestenlehner with service organizations, non-profits, and others to see if anything felt right. They also invited her to accept a position as a secretary for the church, so she could experience church operations. “They were giving me small nudges [to consider pastoral ministry] that weren’t so big that they would scare me away, but they gave me opportunities to see what was possible,” Bestenlehner says. After a couple of years, Bestenlehner looked at the most positive parts of her life, the parts of her life that she wanted to continue to expand, and knew that it was time to consider seminary.

Though Bestenlehner researched multiple schools, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago’s Public Church Curriculum served as the primary impetus for her decision to attend LSTC. “It was the Public Church curriculum that I was really drawn to,” Bestenlehner says, noting her commitment to contributing to lasting positive change in communities of all kinds. “[After I got in, I thought,] ‘this seems like the right fit, everything’s lining up.” With scholarships and financial support covering housing as well as tuition, Bestenlehner knew that attending LSTC meant not only would she be able to achieve her goals of becoming a rostered minister, but that she would be able to do so without going into additional student debt.

At first, moving to a new city where she didn’t have any connections proved daunting. “Let me tell you, I was so overwhelmed!” she says, laughing about it now. The combination of a new place, a new home, and a new school with all new information proved to be formidable. For Bestenlehner, “having the strength to trust God in the process and know that everybody feels this way” helped her put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward in faith. As she became more confident in her academic subject matter, made new friends in the community, and started working as the student coordinator for the Public Church Fellowship, things fell into place. To students who are in the process of discernment or who are considering seminary, Bestenlehner has some words of advice: “It’s really important to trust the process, lean on prayer, and however you find closeness with God, however you feel that you are listening to God’s call in your life, really lean into that,” she says.

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