A Faithful Servant and Dear Friend

By December 14, 2020Public Blog, Uncategorized

It was the summer of 1978.  I was a young administrator at Lynchburg Christian Academy and had the opportunity to attend the International Institute of Christian School Educators in Winona Lake, IN.  It was at this week-long event that I was first introduced to Dr. Paul Kienel.

That year’s Institute was also when three Christian school organizations merged to form the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).  Two men who had significant influences on my life and ministry were Dr. Roy Lowrie, Jr and Dr. Paul Kienel.  These two men were tasked with leading this new organization.

Little did I know that 10 years later I would be sitting in Dr. Kienel’s office at the ACSI headquarters in LaHabra, California interviewing to become the Southeast Regional Director.  For the next seven years I was privileged to serve the Southeast Region under the leadership of Dr. Kienel.

Dr. Kienel was a servant leader in the truest sense of the term.  He had sacrificed so much as he served as the head of the California Association of Christian Schools.  Then, he expanded the scope of that ministry to form the Western Association of Christian Schools before merging it into ACSI.  He and his faithful wife, Annie, worked out of their home in the early years before additional office staff and facilities were possible.

There were four things that were dear to Dr. Kienel and his life reflected his convictions about each of these.  They were his love for the Lord, His conviction about the truth of God’s Word, the necessity for Christian education and his family.  If you ever spent time with him, you would have heard about each of these important aspects of life.

Paul was a very quiet leader who led by example and served others.  He was soft spoken but was a man of deep convictions.  ACSI’s theme verse was Colossians 1:18 and it served as the driving force behind all it did — especially the last part of this verse.

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.  Colossians 1:18 (NKJV)

Dr. Kienel always challenged the leadership team of ACSI to make sure that Christ had the preeminence in every thing we did.  He also drilled a statement into our hearts and minds whenever we met as a team to plan for the future.  I can still hear him challenging us to keep the main thing the main thing!

I can vividly remember how Dr. Kienel challenged Christian educators to filter everything through the lens of Scripture.  He would take something that man had written and explain how there were three ways to interpret a man’s writing.  You could use a man’s writing as a lens to interpret the Bible.  Or you could compare the Bible with a man’s book side by side and pick and choose what you like.  However, the only way to understand what a person had written was to look at it through the Bible.

Since Paul believed so much in the family, it was no coincidence that he treated the ACSI staff as one big family.  In many ways, Dr. Kienel was like a father to me and others who served with him.

I will be forever grateful that he allowed us to bring our spouses to our summer staff meetings.  My wife developed lifelong friendships with the wives of other regional directors during those special summer meetings.

Dr. Kienel modeled Christlikeness to all of us as we worked together as a family to advance God’s kingdom through Christian school education.  He epitomized the teaching of Jesus that is found in several of the gospel accounts.

But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:42-45  (NKJV)

When I think back over my years of ministry, I find myself indebted to Dr. Kienel for believing in me and investing in me so much.  He was the one person who challenged me to speak and write on a biblical philosophy of education.  I went to him for advice when LifeWay Christian Resources contacted me and asked me to come and head up their Christian school section.

Dr. Kienel encouraged me to take this position because he believed it could impact the Christian school movement in a major way.  It was because of his counsel and my leaving ACSI to go to LifeWay that eventually led to the publishing of Kingdom Education: God’s Plan for Educating Future Generations.  Words cannot express my gratitude for Paul’s faith in me that continues to challenge me each and every day to imitate him just like he imitated Jesus Christ.

Many people didn’t realize that Dr. Kienel was an excellent craftsman when it came to woodworking. In fact, he built many of the cabinets and the conference table in ACSI’s headquarters when it moved to Colorado Springs.  At a recent gathering of former staff members in Branson, MO, Dr. Kienel presented each of us that were there with a beautiful gift.  He had handmade a wood pen holder that is still on my desk today.

When I think of Dr. Paul Kienel, the words of the prophet Samuel come to my mind.  Samuel was being replaced by a king that the people were demanding.  Samuel showed godly humility as he addressed the people he had served for so many years.  He said,

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.  Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.  1 Samuel 12:23-24 (NKJV)

I knew that Dr. Kienel was always praying for me as was the case with everyone that he influenced.  I could follow his advice and direction because I knew that he always taught me the “good and the right way”.  He will be missed for certain.  Only eternity will show how many thousands of lives were impacted for Christ because of his service to his Lord and Savior.  There is no doubt in my mind that he heard the words that all of us should strive to hear when we enter God’s presence.

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  Matthew 25:23  (NKJV)

Thank you Dr. and Mrs. Kienel for your friendship and faithfulness to God and His Word.  My prayers are with Annie and the family during this time of loss.  May God’s richest blessing be with the family in the days ahead.

It is time for those of us who were influenced by Dr. Kienel to rise to the occasion and strive to impact young hearts and minds through biblically based education.  May his legacy continue until the coming of the Lord.

Glen Schultz

Author Glen Schultz

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Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Veronica BROKENBERRY says:

    So sorry for your loss, for this world’s loss. May his work continue on through all he touched.

  • Larry Taylor says:

    Great words Glen…thank you for honoring Dr. Kienel…

  • Mark Kennedy (ACSI Eastern Canada Director (Retired) says:

    Thank you Glen for this beautiful tribute to a truly great servant of the Lord. I joined Dr. Kienel’s staff the same year Glen did and was so very blessed by his quiet, firm leadership. He had a truly global vision for Christian schooling without straying from the biblical convictions and practices that continues to undergird ACSI. Dr. Kienel had the remarkable skill of communicating Christian school apologetics clearly and succinctly, especially in his writings, so that anyone could follow his reasoning. As Dr. Lowrie would say, he “kept the cookies ( the important truths) on the lowest shelf”.
    I have a fond memory of when my wife and I guided for him and his dear Annie on a Canadian wilderness canoe/fishing trip. What fun we had! Dr. Kienel dubbed our campsite ‘ACSI Island’ and made it the site of my first annual staff member evaluation. Thankfully the fish were biting so he was especially generous in the content of that document!
    My mourning today is mixed with praise for the opportunity to serve with such a wonderful leader. So thankful we will meet again!!

  • Virginia Kennedy says:

    It is with sadness that I learned from Mark of the death of Dr. Kienel. He had a huge impact on Mark when he attended his first summer institute for Christian school administrators in the late 1970’s. He knew these men like Paul were giants in the world of Christian education and he wanted to model them. Mark was 25 years old and became a first time principal that next fall. Many years later Paul gave full support to Mark becoming the ACSI Director for Eastern Canada and influenced him during many of Mark’s 31 years with ACSI.

    A few things that I appreciated about Paul and Annie is that they worked as a team and that Paul had a great sense of humor and never took himself too seriously. We loved his jokes! One thing that probably no one else did with Paul and Annie was to take them on a wilderness canoe trip in Canada. Paul came twice in fact. No cabins, no stove, no cooler…the real deal. They were willing to rough it. Poor Annie suffered badly from allergies as pollen covered the lake. Paul came twice in fact and he name the island we camped on, “ACSI Island.

    Paul will be missed a great deal. My sincere sympathy to Annie and all of their family. Ginny Kennedy

  • Dr. Randall A Ross says:

    Glen, Well spoken…he was a gracious diplomat for the cause of Christian school education…and a friend!! Randy Ross

  • Rick Yost says:

    One of the GIANTS on whose shoulders we stand!!! Great tribute, Glen!!! He would be mad at you for saying all those nice things, but his rebuke will at least be delayed until you see him someday. :0)

  • Beautiful tribute, Glen! What a godly gentleman — in every way. Dr. Kienel did not only Galatian 5:22-23 in every way, he lived it.

    My all-time favorite Dr. Kienel story happened in 1980 at Asilomar, California, at the Administrators Conference, the first one I attended along with other administrators from Redwood Christian Schools. My Bride Linda was with me. It was a rainy day, really stormy February, and I saw him walk into the main lobby to register and decided to impress my Bride and introduce Linda to him. I went over to him (he still had on his raincoat and rain cap), and said “Dr. B___________, I want to introduce you to my Bride, Linda!” Without missing a beat, he smiled, and greeted Linda with “Hi, I’m Paul Kienel, so nice to meet you.” I INTRODUCED HIM BY THE WRONG NAME! (Dr. B__________ was one of the speakers that year and I got my names mixed up!!!)

    What a gentleman as he simply smiled at this young administrator and went out of his way to not embarrass me, and told us how pleased he was that we were there!

    Although I had always respected him, I now loved this man! What a wonderful example of what all of us saw consistently in his life: living Galatians 5:22-23.

    If he knew you, he always treated you like you were the most important person in the room, and he always remembered Linda after that meeting and we laughed about it years later at ACSI Board meetings, but, being the kind gentleman he was, he always let me bring up the story . . . and then we would laugh . . .

    When our Founding Superintendent Gus Enderlin formally “retired” and we honored him at our Annual Dinner, Dr. Kienel and his Bride Annie came to the event, and, in Dr. Kienel fashion, when he was asked to share a memory of his friend since 1970, who served as Operations Director for ACSI from 1986-1997, his remarks focused on what he admired so much about Mr. Enderlin . . . all the traits we saw in Dr. Kienel’s life. Two of a kind!

    So blessed to have known him personally and professionally . . . and we are committed to continue to pray for his Bride Annie and their family . . .

    Bruce D. Johnson
    Superintendent Emeritus
    Redwood Christian Schools

  • John Elliott says:

    Glen, I am so sorry for your loss. It’s obvious he made a great impact on your life as well as many others. Please know you are following in his footsteps as you, too, have made a great impact on many lives including mine and my children’s. May you feel God’s peace and love as you mourn the passing of Dr. Kienel.

  • Len McWilliams says:

    Well said, Glen. I did not have as many opportunities to encounter Dr. Kienel, but the qualities you have mentioned were certainly evident. He was a man of meekness, when “meekness” is rightfully defined as “power under control”. Knowing him has been a privilege and a blessing.

  • David Webb says:

    You described him perfectly – truly a gentle giant for The Kingdom.

    It was 1990 when Paul gave me 2 video projects to produce for ACSI and after that, the ministry God gave me took off. Those projects were the key to our success making videos for Christian schools.

    He brought me to the dance, introduced me to men and women who forever changed my life and I’m forever grateful.