I was 16 years old when I preached my first sermon. Trembling from nervousness, I walked up to the small podium in front of my youth group, with about 80 wide eyes staring back at me. I spoke that night on Mary and Martha - the difference between "doing" and "being," something that God had been laying on my heart. I stuck to my notes, and after about 20 minutes, it was over.
A strange thing happened afterwards. I started shaking more than before I got up to speak - more than the awkward moments during my message. My hands were sweaty, my body was pumped with adrenaline. This time, though, I was shaking from excitement. I had just preached my first sermon.
My youth pastors took a risk with me. They recognized a calling on my life and believed that God had a message to share through a 16 year old girl. There was no time for pride - only utter fear and trepidation at what they had asked me to do. Yet God spoke clearly to my heart in those weeks prior and the message was received well. I knew, from that moment on, that this is what I was created to do.
Little did I know what fire that would spark inside of me, or what challenges would await as I sought to pursue God's calling on my life. I didn't know at the time that it "wasn't appropriate" or that I "shouldn't have authority" or that some would see it as un-Biblical. I didn't know that my heart would be crushed in two, 5 years later when I preached my first sermon on a Sunday morning, when an entire family walked out. All I did know was that I had a fire, a passion to share God's word, and opportunities were coming my way. All I did know was that I loved Jesus with all of my heart and wanted to share Him with others.
But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
Over the past 19 years I have wrestled with this calling; I have tried to deny it at times; I have tried to set it aside. There are days I wonder if it is worth it; the fight to always have to defend myself when questioned. Yet on those occasions when God has opened doors and the opportunity is before me, that fire burns within me again and I know it is what He created me to do.
Young women need encouragement to step out in these areas. Young women need validation of the call upon their lives. Young women need to know that God calls all of his children to use their gifts and serve Him in ministry. Young women need to know that God doesn't play favorites or give his daughters gifts just to be silenced. Young women need opportunities to share, to preach, if that is what God has gifted them to do.
How can you encourage a young woman in your life?
Acts 2: 17-18
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.