This is the first interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted Life. This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture. This first interview is with Jaquelle Crowe. For those of you who may not be familiar, Jaquelle Crowe is a gifted 19-year-old writer and speaker from eastern Canada. She is the editor-in-chief of TheRebelution.com and a regular contributor to desiringGod.org, The Gospel Coalition, Unlocking the Bible, and Beliefnet. She is the author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway), which releases this month.
Jaquelle, thank you for your willingness to take part in this interview. Before we discuss your first published book, I would like for you to share with us your story as a writer. First, what gave you such a passion for writing? Along with that, when did you start to get serious about your work as a writer?
Jaquelle: My love for writing really started with a love for storytelling. As a little kid, I was constantly making up elaborate stories with my dolls (even before I could write) and as I got older, this naturally led into a love for writing these stories down. Non-fiction was something I dabbled in throughout elementary school but got passionate about the summer I turned 12. This was when I started a blog (largely from the encouragement of my parents) and began to record reflections of what I was learning in God’s Word and in his world. I was captivated by the art of making beautiful sentences and drawn to the capacity of non-fiction to tell truth compellingly.
I started to get increasingly more serious about writing when I was 16 and formally decided to pursue it vocationally when I was 17. Shortly before I turned 18, God provided an idea for a book and an incredible literary agent – and then a few months later, he provided a publisher and a book contract!
Now, here you are at 19 years old with your first published book, This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms Our Teen Years. What were your motivating factors in writing a book on this subject?
Jaquelle: For me, the desire to write a book existed before the idea of what book to write. Because of that, I found myself routinely asking, “What kind of book should I write?” And eventually the question turned into, “If I could only write one book, what would it be?” And I realized it was this: a book for fellow Christian teenagers who wanted encouragement and instruction on how to follow Jesus as a teen. This was the book I wanted to read. Since I started the book at 17, it was (and still is) deeply relevant for the stage of life I was at.
Furthermore, I knew so many teens who were pursuing holiness or wanted to pursue holiness, and they were left to read books by adults and for adults. I also knew teens who were struggling in their Christian walk, who wanted to read something written for them, something robust but not exhaustive, something theological yet practical, something fun but deep. They wanted something specific – a book on how the gospel transforms the season of life they’re in right now.
Your book is said to be a “deeply theological and yet practical and accessible book on how the gospel radically transforms every aspect of the teen years”. As a young adult and as a youth pastor, this book timely. Even for teenagers who profess to trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, there seems to be a disconnect between their life as a Christian and their relationships and habits. Why do you think that disconnect exists?
Jaquelle: I think culture plays a big part in this disconnect. They’ve subtly fed teenagers the lie that Christianity is not transformative. You can call yourself a Christian and do whatever you want.
Sadly, I think the church has played a part as well. There are often stunningly low spiritual expectations for teens – it’s thought that if they’re coming to church and showing some positive interest in Christianity, they’re living a gospel-centered life. But this is in radical opposition to the demanding, self-sacrificing, totally revolutionizing message of the cross.
In D.A. Carson’s endorsement of your book, he remarks, “In a culture where many young people feel entitled and struggle through the swamps of victimization, Jaquelle Crowe calls her fellow teens to Christian discipline…in response to the gospel of grace.” Based on your study of and meditation on Scripture, how does the gospel counteract an entitled mindset?
Jaquelle: From beginning to end, the gospel is a message of grace. It’s a story of us getting what we don’t deserve. We never deserved mercy, forgiveness, redemption. We never even deserved creation. We exist purely and solely because of the goodness of God. Entitlement is a self-focused framework that rejects this truth, that hates grace, and that boasts in itself. I really believe it’s an enemy of the gospel.
Where many young people are tempted to buy into an entitled mindset, you seem to work from an entrusted framework. One of the posts on your website sums it up, “That the day you hold in your grasp doesn’t belong to you. That your time is not your own. That every minute you breathe, every morning you wake up, every day you live is God’s. That you are only a steward of the time God has given you, and that you are entrusted to care for it well.” How has understanding this biblical truth affected your teenage years?
Jaquelle: The realization that my time is not my own completely changed the lens through which I viewed my teen years. I only have one life, one youth, and one fast and fleeting opportunity to make it count. I’m accountable to God for how I use this life, this uniquely precious resource he’s given me, and that means I don’t have the “freedom” (if we could call it that) to live for myself. I must live for his fame. I must use this life for his glory. It has to be about him, not me. And that perspective organically changed what I watched, what I read, how I treated my family, what kinds of friends I had, what I bought, how I dressed, how I spoke, and how I viewed things like dating and school and work.
The biblical concept of stewardship comes up not only in your life generally; it also comes up in your writing. As God has entrusted you with a gift, you are equipping and entrusting others to use the gifts God has given them. You are the co-founder of a program for young writers that you lead with Brett Harris called “The Young Writers Workshop”. Could you share with us what this program is about?
Jaquelle: Absolutely! The Young Writers Workshop is a monthly membership program for any writer aged 10-25 (from writing novices to publishing pros). We create exclusive content to motivate, encourage, and equip young writers to accomplish the individual goals and dreams they have. We interview experts, teach mechanics and skills, critique writing and book proposals, host Q&A events, facilitate a private online community for young writers, and lots more.
Brett and I firmly believe that writing is a powerful tool to serve God and that young writers have a unique capacity to wield this tool well. In the Young Writers Workshop, we teach them how to do that – write well and reach others for the glory of God.