Action Photo for James  Gramzow

Humility and Tenacity

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James Gramzow

Royal Oak, Mich.
Do your best, but understand that God provides grace sufficient for each day.

Humility and tenacity are characteristics that Dr. Kurt von Kampen, vocal music professor and director of Concordia’s A Capella choir, tells his singers they must possess as they perform their pieces. While humility and tenacity both apply to music, many occurrences in college possess these traits—tenacity while making future plans and then humbly realizing these plans are not going to turn out the way we expected them to. James Gramzow is a prime example of this paradox. 

James realized this truth on his journey to Concordia. “My choir director told me about this college that had a great music program, and then I found out it was in Nebraska, and I was not on board. I’m a major homebody, and I was not about to move that far.” James quickly changed his mind. “A few months later, the A Cappella choir came to Michigan to perform. “I heard the first song, and thought, ‘I gotta sing in that choir.’” 

This realization caused James to eventually visit. “I stepped foot on campus, looked around, and immediately thought I could see myself going here. It felt natural, like someplace – even though I am such a homebody–that I could call home.” 

Part of the reason James felt at home so quickly was because of Concordia’s tight-knit community. “My interactions with Dr. Jeffrey Blersch primarily showed me that people here care about their students as people and not strictly as students. That forms the foundation for the close personal relationships people are able to form with each other on campus.”  

James started in the church music program taking organ lessons with Dr. Blersch, but eventually moved to Concordia’s pre-seminary program. “My passion for church music proved to be just that: a passion. I saw that it wasn’t something I wanted to be doing in 10 years. I wanted to be serving in a pastoral role of some sort.” 

James is now leaving college as a music major in the pre-seminary program. Even though he spent a lot of his time taking classes that are not necessarily for his future career as a pastor, he still learned a great deal. “In a broad sense, college is very daunting. You’re getting a degree you’ll be able to hold a career in. But at the same time, you cannot add a minute to a day by worrying about it. Do your best but understand that God provides grace sufficient for each day. It’s all in His hands.”