Calling Over Comfort Zone
Krystal Berry Finds A Community of Colleagues at Truett in Houston
“Is this enough? Am I doing everything I can to make an impact in the place I’m called to right now?”
These questions have led Krystal Berry, an MTS student at Truett Seminary in Houston, on an academic and career path she never could have foreseen.
After using her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English to teach composition at the collegiate level for several years, Berry found that her students were lacking the basic skill sets they needed to succeed in the classroom.
“I thought I could do more to help them if I could catch them a little earlier,” Berry said.
So she began to teach at the high school level and then junior high, and eventually all the way down to elementary. With each layer, Berry uncovered more systemic issues and discovered that the students’ greatest challenges really stemmed from the issues the adults in their lives were facing.
And there were those inner questions again: “Is this enough? Am I doing everything I can?”
Berry began to grapple with the idea that maybe she was being called into ministry to care for the whole person. Perhaps she would minister to the adults who could make these systemic changes at a family and then community level.
There were just a couple of catches:
First, while she was no stranger to speaking in front of congregations, Berry is a self-proclaimed “true introvert.”
“I relate to Elijah,” Berry laughed. “Just give me a little food and water and let me lay down. Let me be. I won’t bother anyone.”
Hours in a solitary writing cave, working on papers, or preparing sermons? No problem. But pastoral ministry to people? Now that was scary.
Secondly, and more discouraging, the church congregation that Berry called home at the time, did not affirm women in ministry.
“I said to myself,” Berry reflected, “You can either pout about what they don’t want you to do, or you can prepare for what you’re being called to do.”
She decided to prepare. And after two different individuals recommended Truett to Berry, the Virginia native applied and enrolled in a program at the Houston campus, where she has since experienced the encouragement of a tight-knit community of colleagues.
“Truett’s Houston campus really does have a special community that has met me where I’m at—mid-stride in my career,” Berry said. “So many of my classmates here have already been practicing ministry as a profession for years—pastors, executive pastors, church planters, you name it—and they have been able to give me such practical insights.”
By working as a graduate assistant in the Seminary’s recruitment office, Berry is able to share her own story with prospective students. And to women seeking an opportunity to serve and lead in ministry, she says with conviction: “When I came to Truett, I didn’t have to fight to be a woman in ministry. I didn’t have to spend my time or energy advocating for my gender because there was already a respect, an energy, and the affirmation that said, ‘No, you’re a preacher, too. You’re in ministry, too.’ I could come here as a woman, be on the same level as my peers, and just be free to learn like everybody else was.”
Today, Berry is set to graduate in May 2023 with her MTS degree and has begun applying to PhD programs to pursue studies in hermeneutics. She hopes to one day be able to use her background and talents in writing to publish a biblical commentary, one that reaches and represents a more ethnically diverse audience.
“My passion for writing a commentary is rooted, first, in my love for all of God's human creation,” Berry said. “And I likewise believe that there is a special perspective of faith and Scripture that can be shared from a Black, millennial woman. Through such a lens, I am not only able to inform but also encourage those who may be led to read through it and may even use it as a resource.”
Berry’s future plans also still include serving in pastoral ministry. It is a concept she admits she does not feel completely comfortable with yet, but it is a calling toward which she has now gained “a quiet confidence.”
“I never want to get too comfortable—get caught in the routine of just getting by,” Berry said. “I want to keep pushing. I want to make sure that whatever I’m doing is something that benefits someone else—that I’m open to however God wants to use me next.”
In the end, like Elijah, though it may require taking surprising paths to get there, she would rather choose calling over comfort every time.