My Calling – Captain Jennifer Taylor
By: Captain Jennifer Taylor
I was 13 when I headed to Jekyll Island for my very first youth councils. I had no idea what was in store for me as I jumped in the 15 passenger van with my corps group.
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 me urging me to respond. I wasn’t about to walk up to the stage covered in tears and feeling confused, but at the same time, I was drawn forward.
I remember 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 stared and 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 The Salvation Army very well, 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 felt this way through much of my high school years. I went to Oral Roberts University, in part, to escape from The Salvation Army for awhile. I loved my friends and the mission of The Salvation Army, but I had no desire to be an officer.
I knew God had called me to ministry, but I wanted it to be 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 the way that I wanted and when I wanted.
I went on SSC when I was in college and had an amazing experience that solidified my passion for ministry. I began to feel that this was a tool the army was using to recruit officers, so I was determined to keep my distance from the candidate secretary.
Upon graduating from college, I interviewed for youth ministry positions with Saddleback Church in California. I really wanted to take the job, but something was off in my spirit. So, instead, I took a job closer to family as the program director for the Dallas Temple Corps, planning to stay for one year.
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. One point of hesitation for me was being single and not wanting to do ministry in the Army by myself. I figured it would be hard, and I didn’t want to be alone. 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 of being hurt, misunderstood, of my gifts not being used. I have found throughout my years as an officer that these 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 Salvation Army and minister somewhere else, and be just fine. What do you want me to do?”
God’s response to me that day has changed everything for me. It is so simple and yet so difficult at times, but, 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 everyday 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.”