My Calling – Captain Jennifer Taylor
By: Captain Jennifer Taylor
I was 13 and headed to Jekyll Island, Georgia, for my very first youth councils. I had no idea what was in store for me.
Maybe you’ve been to youth councils before and dreaded the call to officership that seems to last an eternity. When Sunday at youth councils rolled around, I was not expecting this emotional altar call. I felt something deep inside urging me to respond. A hand touched my shoulder, and I turned and saw Lt. Colonel Bill Mockabee. He asked me if I needed to be up there. I just shook my head “no.” Well, this “no” was more of a “probably, but I’m not ready.” I grew up with officer parents, and I know very well the Army from the perspective of a child of officers. It is not easy to move around and have to change your life every few years. At one point, I remember thinking “I will never do this. Once I am out of the house, I am done with The Salvation Army.”
I went to Oral Roberts University, in part, to escape from the Army for a while. I loved my friends and the mission of the Army, but I had no desire to be an officer. I knew God had called me to ministry, but I wanted a ministry on my terms. So, I was very good at creating ministry opportunities that had some connection with the Army but allowed me the freedom to serve in the way I wanted.
Upon graduating college, I was interviewed for job opportunities in youth ministry with Saddleback Church in California. I really wanted to take the job, but something about it was really off in my spirit. Instead, I took a job closer to family as the program director for the Dallas Temple Corps. It was during that year that the Lord showed me that I needed to stop trying to make ministry work out my way.
I fought with the Lord on several points once I accepted his call to be an officer. Being single, I did not want to do ministry in the Army by myself. But the Lord assured me that he would have that taken care of, so I didn’t stop trusting his plan.
Another concern I had was a fear of being hurt, misunderstood and my gifts being unused. I have found throughout my years as an officer that those things can happen, but how we respond when it does happen is what makes us stronger and more grounded in our calling and faith. After going through a difficult time in one appointment I asked God, “What is my purpose here? I can easily leave the Army and minister somewhere else, and it would be fine. What do you want me to do?”
God’s response changed everything for me. It is so simple and yet so difficult at times. It is my purpose behind everything I do and the person I am. God told me that day to love others deeply. Loving others can be messy and painful and yet so beautiful. My calling is to ministry and it is simply to love God and to love others deeply no matter who they are or what they have done.
I have accepted wholeheartedly that The Salvation Army is where God has asked me to be his minister. I strive every day to honor him through this calling, and I trust in his perfect and beautiful plan for my life. “There’s a peace I’ve come to know, though my heart and flesh may fail. There’s an anchor for my soul. I can say it is well.”