by Lisa McIntosh

When Tom Krahling was about 12 or 13, he began to wonder whether God wanted him to become a pastor. So, he spoke to his parish pastor about it and received some surprising advice.

‘He told me to be like Jonah, to run away and that if God wanted me to do it, he’d send a big fish to swallow me up and spit me out’, Tom says. ‘I went and asked some other pastors and other mentors and they thought that advice wasn’t bad, and so throughout high school, I spent my academics preparing to be an engineer and I spent my Sundays growing in the faith and preparing in that way.

‘At the end of the day, it comes down to the theology of vocation. What has God given me to do? How can I use those gifts to serve others?

‘I thought I would pursue engineering, and I worked at it as if working for the Lord. But when the opportunity came up at church to grow or to get experience, I would go for that as well.’

The sense he was meant to be a pastor didn’t leave Tom, despite putting his energies into engineering studies. And so, with COVID ramping up in 2020, he decided to take leave from university and ‘test the waters’ by enrolling in the Discover program at Australian Lutheran College (ALC) from the second semester. Now 21, he has since completed three semesters of Discover and has applied to enter pastoral ministry study.

In his second semester at ALC, Tom moved onto campus at North Adelaide – a move that helped crystalise his decision to pursue pastoral ministry.

The two-part Discover program features academic study and personal formation, including a ministry placement. Tom’s placement was at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Adelaide, helping out with the youth group and livestreaming services there.

His own experience shows that the so-called ‘aha’ moment of discernment is ‘often a lot more mundane than people expect’. ‘Over the years I’d had an interest, I’d had encouragement from people, but the final moment was just that last person who said, “You know Tom, I think you should become a pastor”’, he says. ‘And she was not the first person to say this. She was maybe the 100th person – pastors and mentors and friends confirming the inner call, and that’s really what made me sure.

‘There is more than one good thing that you can do in life, and I felt like God was saying, “Tom, you can be an engineer and do good and I will work through you in that; you can be a pastor and do good and I’ll work through that. I’m giving this choice to you”. I chose to study to be an engineer, and he said, “Good choice, but try again”.’

Contact Australian Lutheran College at to learn more about Discover

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