TRINITY TALKS TO… a young leader
From Samuel’s childhood chats with God and young David’s defeat of Goliath to the use of a teenage girl to bring a Saviour into the world, the Bible is full of examples of God calling, equipping and powerfully using young people.
Over two thirds of Trinity’s current intake are under 30 and we’re keen to encourage more young people to explore God’s call on their life. So today we talk to 26-year-old Mary de Salis, a curate who graduated from Trinity in 2014, about her journey towards church leadership…
Q: How did your journey towards ordination begin?
A: Well, I first thought about it when I was 15, but it was more of a gentle prompting, just an idea that wouldn’t quite go away. Then at 17 I went on a trip to the Taize community led by these two amazing women vicars, who talked to me very openly about the realities of ministry – both the challenges and the joys. That was the point when the gentle prompting solidified into a definite sense of call. I still went off to uni, but regularly saw my DDO throughout the whole three years, then had a BAP at 22, began my training at 23 and now here I am!
Q: What were some of the challenges you faced as you explored your calling?
A: I think it’s quite hard to put a calling like this into words. It’s one thing to know what your skills are, or have other people comment on your strengths or gifts, but to really boldly say ‘I think God is calling me into church leadership’ feels quite scary, especially when you’re talking to a total stranger. But I was very fortunate, people were really supportive. And I had a lot of prophetic words spoken over me to affirm my calling, and 1 Tim 4:12 came up a lot, where Paul encourages Timothy in his leadership and tells him not to let anyone look down on him for being young. I still had doubts sometimes, but I thought well if St Paul said that then I must be ok!
Q: What things did you learn during your training that are helping you in your ministry now?
A: It’s amazing actually, there are so many things I learnt that I would never have expected to find so helpful. Like getting into the disciplines of daily prayer, which was tough at first but is so valuable to me now. How to do a proper exegesis on a passage, really understanding it and mining its depths and then applying it to real life. Also the way Trinity was so focused on growing my relationship with God and my love for Him, that’s so foundational for a life of ministry. Oh and also my tutors gave me a real love for the Old Testament! Now at my curacy church if anyone ever misses the OT reading on a Sunday I get really miffed – I have to try to sneak it into my sermon! I had a baby while I was at college too and they were just so flexible and really involved my husband and daughter in the life of the community. It was a great place to learn how to deal with very different personalities and people from different traditions than mine but in the context of such a warm and supportive family of great Christians.
Q: What advice would you give to other young people considering leadership in the CofE?
A: Don’t be afraid to talk about feeling called – seek out vocations advisors in your diocese, go to a ‘Step Forward’ day, find a good vicar that you trust and just explore where the Spirit is leading you. Also pray a heck of a lot! And always remember the 1 Tim 4:12 passage: ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young’.