A Single Spark
“It’s time for you all to step up!”
These were the words from a youth leader, spoken to myself and the rest of our church’s small youth group during my sophomore year in high school. He pointed to different students and assigned everyone a job.
“You! You’re going to be an usher! You! You’re going to be a greeter! And you—” He pointed at me and a friend of mine. “You two are going to speak!”
Little did I know that this would be the beginning of God weaving an incredible story that only He could write.
No more than a few weeks later, my moment to share came. My friend and I stood in front of our youth group and delivered a message on living boldly for God in a world that seemed to be walking away from Him. For my friend, it was no big deal. Once our message ended, we sat down and she didn’t think much of it. However, for me, it was the realization of what God was calling me to—telling the youth of this world about Him. At just 15 years old a small spark for youth ministry was ignited in my heart.
Throughout the remaining years of my high school career I knew that student ministry was something that I definitely wanted to pursue. That little spark began to fan into a flame. Unfortunately, the college I planned to attend didn’t offer any degrees in ministry and attending one that did was not a viable option. So, I decided to pursue elementary education and my passion for youth ministry took a backseat.
When I began college in the Fall of 2011 I completely threw myself into becoming a teacher. I took all the classes, worked at daycares and in church classrooms, and shadowed any educator that would have me. I researched the best education tactics and ideas. I constantly bought things for my future classroom. I dreamt about the day where I would get to shape and mold the minds of tiny humans. While I hadn’t completely abandoned youth ministry (I was still doing a lot of volunteer work and ministering to teenagers in various ways), it was no longer the highest priority on my list. The flame began to dim.
However, God knew where I needed to be. I’m sure I would have made a good schoolteacher, but it was not my calling. And just a few semesters before I was to graduate with my degree in Elementary Education, it was like God dropped that burning desire for ministry back into my heart. Suddenly, I could no longer focus on anything that had to do with teaching and I constantly felt torn between the two.
I was distracted in class because I was thinking about how I’d rather be studying the Bible with a group of teenagers.
I became frustrated with having to change the times of my small groups to accommodate a night class I was taking.
I dreaded having to student-teach during my last semester because I knew I’d be insanely busy and have no time to volunteer in my church’s youth group.
I was confused, distraught, exhausted, and I had no idea what I was going to do. Continue to pursue teaching? Start all over and pursue student ministry?
But even through all of the frustrations, God provided. He knew where my heart was, where I needed to be, and how to get me there.
He would not let that flame die.
He allowed me to finish all of my courses in Elementary Education, and that same year I was offered the Student Ministry Assistant position at the church I was attending at the time. And one year later, I was offered a Youth Director Position at the church I am currently serving at...the very church where I delivered my first message to my small youth group. I am happy, filled with joy, and completely confident that I’m walking along the path the Lord has set out for me.
I look back and think about trying to figure it all out. All of the frustration, the confusion, the feeling of being pulled in two directions…it was all worth it. I ended up getting to work in the exact field I desired to be in at the end of it all, at the place where it all began. Not only that, but there were so many skills that I learned in teaching that have aided me in ministry because God doesn’t waste a single thing. (Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share them!)
I’m so grateful that I get to do what I love, and it all started with a little spark that began in my heart at the age of 15 years old. I am more than ready to see the that spark grow into a burning flame.
What about you? What is your story? How did you get started in ministry? I encourage you to look back at where your spark began and marvel at where God has brought you.