After seven years of school, training, being an intern, being an interim, and working full time at my church I am being licensed on January 21st. While my main job is working with the youth, I spent plenty of time doing hospital visits, preaching as a fill-in, and doing several other pastoral duties. While it is true that I probably could have been licensed a long time ago, I think being licensed right now in this period of my life is far more significant for me.
There have been a lot of changes in my life within the last year. I married my beautiful wife Kendall about 10 months ago, I’m graduating from seminary with my Masters of Arts degree, and a few weeks ago I found out my wife is pregnant. With all of these changes in my life I feel I’m moving into a whole new area of uncharted territory. Things have been changing so rapidly for me. However, in the midst of all of this life change my church comes along and reminds me of one more thing…my calling. With all of the stuff going on I can so easily forget, but to me the church is stepping in to remind me that I am also spiritually and personally called to the ministry.
The pastor and the board of deacons met together with me to ascertain my divine call and my qualifications. Tonight they asked me questions about my belief, my calling, my testimony, and my family. Once this was all over they voted unanimously to do the licensing, which I believe recognizes and affirms my call to preach and to serve Christ in full time ministry. I’ve been doing that already, of course, but this is just another step in the process that confirms my calling.
From what I understand from this process there are several things to consider when licensing a pastor. The license, first of all, is an approval and verification of a person called into ministry. This is based off of the person’s Spiritual life: their conversion, call to the ministry, and their Christian walk. It’s also based off a person’s doctrinal stance. The person being licensed should affirm their adherence to a doctrine based on the Scriptures. I personally believe that pursuit of education and growth should also be considered in the licensing process. The last thing that is considered is denomination. Since this is a license to preach in a Southern Baptist Church the persons stance on the particular denomination is essential. The license is a churches stamp of approval on a person who they truly believe is called into the ministry and it gives the person the ability to fulfill all pastoral duties including the ability to legally sign marriage license.
It is such an honor for me to be licensed by this church. I’ve grown up here. I was baptized here, I was called to the ministry here, I have been working here for seven years, I was married in this church, and now on top of all that I’m being licensed by the church. This is a privilege and experience that I am not taking for granted.