In the fall of 2017, I interned for Madison Heights Baptist Church in Madison Heights, Virginia, my home church. At the beginning of the semester, the other intern and I met with my pastor, Todd Blake, and we discussed some things we wanted to experience during our time as an interns. Some of the things were leading in worship, attending a staff meeting, and attending a deacons’ meeting. Because of our calls to ministry, preaching was one of the things we wanted to experience the most.

Soon, Todd asked me to preach the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Christ the King Sunday. Once I knew when I was preaching, I began looking at the lectionary passages for that day, and I chose the passage from Ephesians. I would love to say that I immediately began researching and preparing for my sermon, but I waited a few more weeks than I probably should have before I did. After I started, my sermon came together well, but I had some doubts about my sermon-writing and preaching abilities. What if my sermon wasn’t long enough? Or what if I said something theologically incorrect? Or what if I was terrible at preaching? Todd Blake encouraged me by telling me, “If you’re not a little nervous, then you’re not taking it seriously enough.” With this encouragement, I continued to prepare my sermon, and I was finally ready for Christ the King Sunday.

As the prelude, hymns, and offertory were offered in worship, I checked my watch no less than ten times as I hoped that one of the worship elements would take longer than usual so I would have less time to fill with my sermon. The choir cut off their last note of the anthem, and the time for me to preach my first sermon had come. All my worries from when I was writing my sermon rushed over me, but I realized they were irrational and that my sermon would not be a failure. Right before I walked to the pulpit, my youth pastor and mentor, Katrina Brooks, said something I’ll always remember. “Have fun,” she told me with an empowering smile only she can give.

Now I’m a sophomore at the University of Lynchburg, and it’s been a little more than a year since I preached my first sermon. In that year, I’ve had several opportunities to preach. Every time I preach, I remember Todd’s encouraging words, and I always remember to have fun. People talk about doing things that make you feel alive, and preaching is one of those things. I have felt confident in my call to ministry since high school, and explore my call is one of my favorite things. I love preaching, and I love all the people who support me and give me wonderful opportunities in ministry as I navigate what it means to be called.

Morganne Talley is a sophomore at the University of Lynchburg and a member of Madison Heights Baptist Church, Madison Heights, Virginia.