Wiring 3- and 4-Way Electrical Switches - OR - A Lesson for Pastors

By Gregory C. Rogahn   |   February 1, 2019

Back at the Rogahn Ranch in Lubbock, Texas in 2005, we were in the midst of the construction of the 40x30 foot Mueller building, aka as “Pop’s Garage” for Bessie II and Bertha, the Ford Models A and T respectively, as well as an interior guest apartment aka “The Guest Apartment.”

Site preparation, concrete, and building assembly was contracted out as well as bringing electrical power and rough plumbing to the building site. Brother, Reid Rogahn, and Jim Diers assembled the apartment framing and Andrew Rogahn and I tackled pulling electrical wire. I was left to connect the wiring in the breaker box, plug-ins, lights, and switches.

Things seemed to be going quite well until I encountered the need for some 3-way switches in the apartment and garage areas. I was frustrated, confused, and stumped. But, not to worry, I called fellow parishioner and dear friend, 80-some-year-old, Dub Newsom. “Dub, this is Greg. I can’t seem to figure out how to wire a 3-way switch.” Don’t worry pastor, I’m on my way.”

30 minutes later Dub showed up. His electrical tools consisted of a pocket knife.

“Now this is how you wire a 3-way switch,” began Dub. And using words like traveler, common, power and other mystical jargon, he wired in the 3-way switch. “Thanks! Dub, let’s close ‘er up.” Oh no! Dub started taking the completed wiring apart! “Dub! What are you doing?”  “Pastor, I’m not going to be around much longer, and before I leave today, I want to know that YOU KNOW how to wire a 3-way switch.

So, I rewired the switch. “Well, that’s wrong. Watch me again.” And, yes, he took the completed assembly apart…again. I guess I finally realized that Dub was serious about this learning business and I finally got it right, as well as the other switches in the apartment and Pop’s Garage, under his watchful eye. 

Dub was called Home by the Lord a few months later.

A few years after, during a dining room renovation project, I was confronted with replacing a 4-way switch. Same problem, same frustration, same being stumped. So, I called fellow parishioner and dear friend, Mike Bunyard . . . darn near 80 and a master at all things electrical. 

I want readers to know, that the very same thing happened. Mike installed the 4-way switch, took it apart, and said the very same words about not being around in the future and the need for me to know how to wire a 4-way switch. Thankfully, Mike is still with us. 

“What does this mean?” Lutheran pastors, take note.

It means that even as Dub and Mike saw the importance of sharing their knowledge and passing on that ability to others, in the same way, and how much greater, Jesus discipled His disciples. He showed them. He demonstrated for them. He guided them. He taught them. Jesus knew full well that He would not be earthly/physically with His disciples, His followers, for much longer. His desire was that they would carry on with the message, with the mission, with the ministry – indeed with the shepherding and the very pastoring that Christ exemplified in the flesh.

I maintain that our Lord’s directive “to make disciples” means far, far more than just filling pews. As vital as it is for pastors to be pastoring, visiting the sick, the shut-ins, the angry ones, the confused, the doubting, those new in the faith and the womb-to-the-tombers, making hospital calls, nursing home calls, outreach and evangelism calls SO ALSO is the absolute and critical need to train the laity of their parish to do the same.

Discipling means giving congregational members the training, the tools, the vision, the directive, the opportunity and the blessing to be individually in mission and ministry. Someone once stated, “We have one pastor but a congregation full of ministers.”

A pastor cannot just say, “do this” or “do that.” It takes time. It takes effort. It takes patience. It takes determination. It takes all that it means to be 2nd grade teacher or any teacher for that matter. Up front time and effort will be great indeed. But soon those trained will be sharing their abilities with others.

It is an amazing miracle to behold. 

I have experienced it personally.

To God be the glory, great things He has done.


Greg is a retired pastor, but is active in mission and ministry. He continues to work and serve in Clarence, Iowa. You may contact him at gallorojo@netins.net.


Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org

Center for U.S. Missions – Contact Information 

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