The question I have been asked the most since being ordained at District Assembly in early April is, “So what does it mean? Do they give you any superpowers when they ordain you or do you still have to take the stairs like you used to?” I’ll give the long answer here so when people are left unsatisfied with the simple answer I give face-to-face I can refer them here.
My somewhat sarcastic response when people ask me the question is, “Nothing changes!” Which on a practical level is true, but on a theoretical level so many things have changed. I am now eligible for two offices in the church, which I could not have filled as a licensed minister, District Superintendent and General Superintendent. If I’m ever in the market for a job with more work and less appreciation, I think I’ll consider one of those. I can also serve on boards for observing and certifying candidates for ordination. I will also be asked to teach some, as I have already done, candidates for ordination. I also feel now that I can use the title Reverend honestly, however, I have been addressed as Reverend since becoming a pastor three years ago. Ordination will allow me to continue pursuing God’s call on my life to ministry for the rest of my life, as a licensed minister I was conditional and temporary, ordination is for as long as I live in agreement with the church.
The comparison I’ve made is between tenure for a university professor and ordination. The truth in the tenure analogy is that I am like an official representative for the denomination, I can speak with authority about the doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene. The analogy breaks down when you start looking at the reasons for ordination verses the reasons for tenure. Tenure is granted to professors for the purpose of academic freedom. A confessional institution, like the Church of the Nazarene, does not encourage doctrinal exploration outside of our articles of faith. I hope I’m right about this at least. I hope if I began preaching that in order to be saved you must pray to David Hille, I would have my credentials removed. (But sorry Dave, I don’t plan on switching to Hilleanity anytime soon.)
I don’t feel any holier, no superpowers that I ‘ve noticed, I haven’t performed any miracles, communion tastes the same, and the baptismal waters feel just as wet. They didn’t teach me any special handshakes, or how to comb my hair like a Nazarene pastor. It was a little like graduating, but without the feeling of “what comes next?” or the relief of being done with papers and tests.
I do feel a sense of responsibility to deserve the confidence the church has placed in me. The church has given me a great deal of trust, and as much as I have tried to be worthy of their trust with my assignment in ministry, I hope to keep the trust in everything I do as an ordained minister of the gospel in the Church of the Nazarene. However, my ultimate responsibility and trust comes from the call God has given me, and the call and trust of God, to me, is much more important than even the vows of ordination.