As KINDLE launches the public phase of the Equip Serve Multiply campaign, we focus on this question for the month of March:

How did your KINDLE experience (or connection) help you better equip Christ-like servant leaders?

This is the story of how KINDLE challenged and supported Bill Karpenko to serve into an unanticipated leadership role …

In 2008-09, Jack Giles and I responded to a Thrivent Financial for Lutherans funding initiative with a proposal that would dramatically expand KINDLE’s program offerings. One of those offerings was called KINDLE: Finishing Well. As God would have it, Thrivent responded positively with a $256,000 grant, a remnant of which is still available to KINDLE.

With this financial stimulus, a planning team began to create the two-year training process with the goal of recruiting an initial class for 2013-15.  Lyle Heggemeier was selected as Dean of the initiative, along with a coach/instruction team of Jack Giles, Jill Hasstedt, and myself. 

In the Spring of 2013, God intervened in the team’s plans, when Lyle experienced a major health event that precluded his serving as Dean. After some discussion, the lot fell to me to serve as Dean of the coming initiative. I remember saying to myself at the time: “Lord, are you sure you want a 75-year-old leading this initiative?” Four primary reasons led me to accept this service mantle, even though I was somewhat of a classroom dinosaur:

  • I realized that I had a superb team around me, who would hold up my arms as needed.
  • I knew most of the Associates who had applied, and cherished their willingness to go on this “guinea pig” adventure.
  • I had a passion for KINDLE’s mission of “fostering and multiplying Christ-like servant leaders,” and was eager to test the idea that I had often discussed.
  • I had a keen desire to serve KINDLE’s mission because I knew that God’s grace and mercy would see me through whatever challenges might arise.

What was also growing in me at the time was an increasing conviction that the KINDLE Strands and Practices (SPOs), which I had helped create in 2000-01, held the promise of being “a way of life.” Some years later, when reading Tod Bolsinger’s Tempered Resilience, I realized that the SPOs could serve as a person’s “code or rule of life.”  As he cited,

“Rules of Life are made up of intentional spiritual practices and commitments for the purpose of serving as a trellis that supports the branches that are connected to the vine, Jesus (John 15) in order to have a fruitful life of discipleship. This is a worthy pursuit that saints throughout the ages have undertaken either in community or individually to grow in Christ.” (page 134).

So, what a thrill to serve as the Dean of KINDLE: Finishing Well for two seasons, and in that process, become ever grateful that God could use me, as 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

William O. Karpenko II


We would love to hear your KINDLE Equip story! You can submit your story any time via KINDLE’s campaign website or here:

We hope you will Equip yourself with God’s Word, prayer, and conversations that prompt you to consider a gift or pledge to KINDLE. You can commit that gift or your pledge here:

Look for updates on KINDLE’s website for the number of dollars and stories submitted to the Equip Serve Multiply campaign.

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