This interview spotlight is for all women who are seeking to inspire and motivate other women to pursue their passion. We want to hear real stories from people we can relate to and learn from. Hope you will be inspired, encouraged and motivated by what they will be sharing. This week we caught up with Melissa Nicholson.
Hie Melissa, Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m currently a Secondary English teacher in the West Midlands. I recently joined a running club which is proving to be the best choice I’ve made all year. Support is everything when trying to reach your goals. Naturalista, speaker, smoothie lover…that’s pretty much me.
How did you come to know Jesus Christ and can you briefly share your Christian Journey with us?
I grew up in the church and did all things Adventist: Pathfinders, Summer Camps, AYS, Tent Campaigns, Camp meetings etc. I just realised that all of that didn’t matter, if Jesus wasn’t mine and I wasn’t his. I remember having an all or nothing desire for my Christian walk. When I was around 16 I went to a Youth Congress/ event with David Gates ( The founder of Gospel Ministries International) he shared his testimony , which blew me away it was so raw and adventurous. He made an appeal for young people who would one day commit a year of their lives to missionary work. Two years later I was on a plane to Honduras for the most exciting, spiritually refreshing and crazy experience. It literally changed my life course, purpose, confidence and transformed my love for God and his work.
What is your significant life bible verse?
There are so many but this verse helps me keep things in perspective. Matt 6:33 -But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
What have been some of your joys and greatest challenges as a young christian woman living in this generation?
As a millennial I’ve struggled to find my place in the church. My parents like many Adventist parents had high expectations for me academically. They encouraged me to go away and study and develop as a professional. After graduating, I felt as though Church was just doing the same things they’ve always done even if it hasn’t worked. At work we’re so driven to achieve goals, reflect, learn and adapt but then in church those behaviours often aren’t encouraged or at least not at the same rate. I have so many gifted friends who are doing amazing things in the world and have talents they can offer the church but find it difficult to find a place for themselves. It’s often easier to start your own ministry or just sit in a pew. I’ve loved working with the Aberdaron Summer Camps over the last few years. If you’ve never been, add it to your bucket list. The opportunity to preach regularly has been both humbling and a blessing. Working for One Sound Music. Also seeing my little sister get baptised!
Can you share some key lessons that God has taught you or that God is teaching you in this season of your life?
God’s teaching me to trust him like I trust my earthly father and by so doing appreciate that his intentions towards me are good. Even when it doesn’t seem like it and things are out of my control.
What is your life work or passion? Or what you currently doing?
Education is my passion and teaching is my job. In September I’ll be starting my Masters in Development Management. I’d love to get back into full-time ‘missionary’ work; by the end of my Masters I’ll have more to offer.
What is a day in your life look like/Can you give us a glimpse into your daily life?
Wake up, prayer and devotion (sometimes in the car tbh), make a smoothie and lunch, teach all day, work out, attempt my to-do list/marking, phone a friend or two and then bedtime 🙂
What advice would you share with other young people who want to pursue a career in teaching?
Oh man this is a tricky one! The skills of teaching are second to none I’ve grown so much as a person since entering the classroom. It’s as rewarding as it is stressful and there’s a new challenge every day. You can do a PGCE or be trained by a teaching school. Those kids ( and staff) will work on your patience like nothing else! Gain experience by volunteering as a Teaching assistant, Pathfinders, summer clubs etc. However, be mindful that to become a good/outstanding teacher it will take the majority of your time (the extent depends on your subject specialism). To plan good/outstanding lessons, to fully immerse yourself in the school community and to give quality feedback through marking are demands on your free time – much more than the 8:30-3:30 day.
In the busyness of life how do you cultivate your spiritual growth as a young woman?
Surround myself with spiritual friends to encourage and share life with. Preaching appointments keep me studying a little deeper than I might usually prioritise time for.
What do you do spiritually and practically to maintain a Christ-centred approach in your work?
I remember that I may be the only Jesus my students see. I’ll weave in a little morality into my lessons to prompt discussion or share a little about myself. Last lesson on a Friday you may well find me with my back to class petitioning the Holy Spirit for patience! Students come from a range of home situations and have all kinds of influences at play; prayer allows God to intervene in their lives.
What are some ways the Lord has given you triumph in the midst of life’s challenges? And how would you encourage somebody else going through a challenging time in their life?
My 23yr old cousin was killed recently and it has been the biggest tragedy I’ve ever known personally. But it’s been such a witness to literally thousands of people across the world. My Aunt’s forgiveness of her killer has just wowed her community. That’s the kind of faith I want. Even in death, God wins.
What advice would you give to a young woman who desires to go deeper in her relationship with Jesus Christ?
Serve. As you seek to be a blessing to others God blesses you in more ways than you can imagine or realised you needed. Secondly, pray honestly and openly. We can hide our true selves from the world but we stunt our growth if we try hiding from God who sees your anxiety, concerns,temptations and future plans. Believe he will take care of you.
What is your desire for the young women of our generation?
To see themselves as infinitely powerful tools in the hands of a God who loves them and who has a unique purpose for their lives.
Who inspires you and why?
My Aunty Pauline. Did I mention her own father died a week earlier? Literally, she has supernatural strength.
What are some of your favourite things?
Coconut oil, chia seeds, my phone and a scarf.
What advice would you give your younger self?
1) Take every opportunity that comes your way.
2) Pay more attention in french.
3) Stop worrying and just enjoy it!
4) Their opinions of you don’t matter.
Do you have any books or sermons that you recommend young women to read or listen to?
Mind, character and personality – E.G.White
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
The meaning of Marriage – Tim Keller
The power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
Prayer Power – Intercessory Prayer by Janet Page
Is your window open? by Eric Walsh