Forward Thinking

Perspectives on ideas and stories that impact the workplace, including a spiritual dynamic. Authored by media and communications veteran Mark Elfstrand.

Assignment from God

That’s quite a bold thought — is it not? That someone would claim they are on an “assignment from God!” We should be careful with such talk.

Almost 28 years ago, my perspective on work made a dramatic change. My soul moved from a resistance to doing “ministry” work to an open handed response to pursue whatever kind of assignment God might give me. Even ministry.

Shortly thereafter, I was offered a talk show job by a major Christian communications company. It was a great fit and offered a ministry focus. It lasted seven years. After a two month break, another ministry “assignment” opportunity surfaced. This one in Chicago in a similar kind of work on radio. It lasted over 14 years.

At the end of that run, God gave me a bit of a respite of several months before another ministry “assignment’ door opened. This one lasted 4 and 1/2 years. It ended in January 2019.

The blessing of unemployment compensation, along with reaching the age of Social Security payments, provided during this break. As that unemployment season ended, two new ministry opportunities were presented. My schedule would allow me to do both assignments.

One began last week. A second officially commences this week as I work alongside the ministry of Lutheran Church Charities. This group does several things, but their hallmark outreach is the K-9 Comfort Dog ministry. I’ll share the description from their website:

“Launched in August 2008, the Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry is a national human-care ministry embracing the unique, calming nature and skills of purebred Golden Retrievers. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and handlers, Kare 9 Military Ministry Dogs and veteran handlers, and LCC K-9 Police Ministry Dogs and law enforcement officer handlers are a bridge for compassionate ministry, opening doors for conversation about faith and creating opportunities to share the Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation of Jesus Christ.

All the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs are working animals. They’ve been trained to interact with people of all ages and circumstances who are suffering and in need. The dogs participate in scheduled and special events. Dogs are permanently placed with churches, schools, and other ministries involved in Christian human care by LCC.”


Beginning Wednesday of this week, LCC will host its 8th Annual K-9 National Conference. Approximately 100 Golden Retrievers from over twenty-five states will be on hand. A special “meet and greet” with the dogs will take place the night of July 24th at the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook.

Those registered for the conference will come together to learn more about the ways to reach a lost, hurting, and confused world. I am privileged to be interviewing a number of the speakers at this event. In fact, I have my own speaking session.

My longer term affiliation with LCC is about producing a new YouTube program. The title will be Moving People Forward. It will consist of an interview format with guests who will offer insights into everyday problems or challenges we face in this world. LCC will be the sponsor. I will host each program. The first episode to release should be late in August or early September.

It’s quite an opportunity. Or should I say…”assignment.” It may seem to some like my career has gone to the dogs.

Frankly, many a life could admit being tracked by the “Hound of Heaven.” The classic poem by that title from Francis Thompson has been described in this way: “As the hound follows the hare, never ceasing in its running, ever drawing nearer in the chase, with unhurrying and imperturbed pace, so does God follow the fleeing soul by His Divine grace.”

I felt that sense of a God pursuit in the summer of 1991. It has inspired me ever since. And given me a real sense of God’s personal calling.

How about you?

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Watch for a new YouTube program and podcast with Mark Elfstrand beginning in late summer.

For more information:
https://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org/k-9-comfort-dogs-about.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hound_of_Heaven