1 Timothy 4:12-16 (ESV) “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
I was twelve years old when I first felt the call of God on my life. I felt the Holy Spirit leading me, and I knew I wanted to live my whole life for Jesus. I remember teaching Sunday School, participating in Vacation Bible School, being in Bible Quizzing, and getting involved in small areas in the church which taught me how to be faithful.
As I neared the age of sixteen, I felt a renewal and revival in my life. In the late nineties there was a lot of talk of the return of God and the rapture. I never thought I would finish college. As I was getting ready to graduate, I felt like God was leading me to go to Bible School. Unfortunately, I did not have any scholarships for out of state schools and I grew up in a family who struggled with poverty. I talked with my pastor, and he suggested I attend a public university, where I could get scholarships and grants. So, I began my journey at Michigan State University. While in University, I taught Bible Studies, led small groups, and was extremely involved in my local church. All I wanted to do was work for the Kingdom. As a young woman, I was given a lot of responsibility and trust. This helped me grow into my leadership calling.
In my early twenties I was honored to be able to serve abroad in Queretaro, Mexico. I lived out of the country for three months, and studied intensive Spanish. I was also given the opportunity to speak at a youth convention. It was a wonderful experience, but challenging, because I needed to speak solely in Spanish. After I returned to the United States, I continued to be involved in ministry. I taught Junior High Sunday School, and was involved in leadership in the youth group. I started a youth group on Thursday evenings, and what once started with two people grew to nearly thirty in a few short years.
In my mid-twenties, I felt a call to study the Bible more, and so I moved to Saint Louis, Missouri to attend Urshan Graduate School of Theology. When I arrived, I knew I was in the right place. While in seminary, I was given many opportunities to serve. I served as the student body president, did church internships, traveled to Yellowstone National Park to be a ministry staff leader for a summer, did women in ministry conferences, and even helped with a UPCI General Conference session once. More and more God was giving me responsibility, and was challenging me to be a leader in my youth.
Now, I am in my late twenties, and will turn thirty in a few weeks. I work as a full time hospital chaplain at Barnes Jewish Hospital, have my general ministerial license with the UPCI, and am actively involved in leadership in my community. Every day I am given the opportunity to be a spiritual leader to people who are often not affiliated with a congregation or pastor. Every day, I pray with people, sit with people, and offer the presence of God to those who I work with and am around.
Sometimes people tell me I am young. Sometime people say, “Oh, God will use you in that way someday.” I want to tell people, God called me to be a leader when I was young. God called me to teach and preach the gospel. God has called me to be an example in speech, conduct, purity, love, and faith. God has called me to the public reading of scripture, exhortation, and teaching. I am not allowed to neglect my gift, because I am what some people consider young. I am not allowed to bury my talents, and hide what God has called me to do. I must be a good steward. I must immerse myself in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I was saved when I was eight years old and now twenty-two years later I am still living in that commitment. I may only be thirty, but God has called me to be a leader when I am young. I will not use my age an excuse to not fulfill my calling and ministry. I will be bold. I will be committed. I will be immersed in the calling and grace of Jesus Christ. I hope you will be too. God has used many young people throughout history to do great things. You do not have to be older. You simply have to be willing to follow Jesus and the lead of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Copyright 2014 Crystal Schmalz