Seminary applications were a source of stressful yet redeeming exploration for me this summer. I poured all of myself into blank word documents just to end up with a 500 word identity. However, I felt as though it is imperative to share what I discovered about this calling before I reveal what’s truly on my heart (bolded at the end if you’re truly that impatient).
A dear friend once called me to meet up for lunch. After catching up on trivial happenings, she put down her fork and looked me dead in the eyes. “What is your vow in life?” she asked. To put it simply, I wasn’t ready for that deep of a question in the middle of my university’s dining hall. I felt like I needed more time, like I should have something monumental or substantial to say in response. Before I could finish telling her that I’d need to think on my answer, words were put on my heart. My vow in life is to be an ambassador of Christ through pastoral ministry, serving God’s kingdom with all that I have and all that I am. God has kindly asked to use my weakness, my struggles, and my brokenness in order to bring the world strength, joy, and unity. I have been called to listen before I speak, ask before I declare, read before I write, observe before I act, love before I judge, and serve before I am served.
To be fair, I didn’t always know this. It may sound crazy, but I heard my call to ministry in the eighth grade. God was planning even then to shake my perspective to bless me with His. I was in a “first priority” Bible study before school. We were talking about the passage in Matthew 5:14-16. You don’t light a candle to only put it under a bowl and let it go out. You put it on a stand to brighten the whole room. In that moment, God revealed to me I was going to be that candle. He was going to put me in front of others so they could see and feel the warmth of His light. My thirteen year old self had no idea what that meant, but that did not stop God from teaching me. Within months, I found myself attending a new church plant that met in my high school auditorium. My journey started with service on the church’s worship team, continued with mentorship with one of the strongest female pastors I know, and ended with a youth group full of genuine relationship and fellowship in Christ.
From there, my passion only grew. I found a university that fostered my heart while allowing me to press into difficult questions. I found a church job as a youth pastor that encouraged my calling while pushing me to never accept less than my full potential. I found books and sermons that opened my eyes while challenging me to prayerfully consider what it is I truly believe. The vow to pursue pastoral ministry for my life is incredibly clear, but I am careful to say I know exactly what that means. If I have learned anything along the way, it is that I am called to question frequently, read endlessly, love fully, pray constantly, and serve unconditionally.
All of this brings me to present-day decisions: After 8 years of hard work, sweat, tears, and lots of prayer, I have officially accepted a Seminary Fellowship covering my full cost of tuition plus a stipend to Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. I am still humbled by the tremendous opportunities placed before me in the last few months. I got to travel the country and experience God in ways I didn’t know was possible. Prayer and absolute trust in God have brought me to this fully surprising and fully delightful next step in my life and in my ministry. Most importantly, I am overwhelmed by the love and support from so many people around me. There are many days when I stumbled, doubted, and just plain failed, and I could not have made it here without that support. From all of this, I gather these truths: Give 100% of who you are to who you are called to be. Love those around you with 100% because the world cannot afford anything less. And remember that God is good 100% of the time.