Wayland - San Antonio graduate follows God's call back to school

Floyd Burkett is not a rarity among the student body at Wayland Baptist University - San Antonio. At 54, he's only a bit over the median age of students that choose the Baptist university's external campuses to finish a degree once began or start over toward a new career path.

But unlike many come to Wayland in hopes of getting better jobs or promotions, Burkett has only one reason for pursuing a degree: God told him to.

Burkett, who graduates June 24 with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Education specializing in religion, said coming to Wayland for the degree was simply a matter of submitting to God's will.

"I had felt a call into ministry many years back, but the circumstances were such that I didn't follow the call and I went into the military," he said. "So many years later, God in his infinite wisdom felt that I still needed to be in ministry and I finally took the call."

Between those incidents, Burkett had already established himself in the pest control business, working for several companies, managing another and finally starting his own business in 1985, Master Service Pest Control. Licensed by the state as a certified applicator, Burkett said he had found a niche in that industry.

But he was learning what everyone else, seemingly, already knew: He was meant for ministry. He began studying with materials from the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (now Lifeway Christian Resources) but felt that he needed further instruction.

"I prayed and searched, and God led me through another person to Wayland," he said. That was three years ago.

Armed with confidence only in the Lord's call for his life, Burkett enrolled and entered the first classroom since he'd graduated high school 32 years prior. He admits a bit of trepidation.

"I was very nervous when I walked into that first class. I didn't know if I could do it. All that studying was so far back for me," he said. "I went in with a whole lot of prayer. But I had made a commitment to the Lord and part of that was to complete the degree. It was something I just had to do."

During those three years, Burkett took a full load (9-12 hours) each semester, went straight through and spent nights either in class or studying. He also still had to maintain the full-time job of running his company and caring for a family. It wasn't easy; in fact, Burkett called it a "balancing act."

Before pursuing the degree, Burkett had already been involved in ministry. He had been licensed and ordained at Believers Baptist Church in Smithson Valley and served as mission director and assistant pastor there. He had also founded the Smithson Valley Food and Clothing Bank in 1997.

He knew the degree wasn't necessarily essential to his ministry. But God felt differently.

"I felt that's what God wanted me to do. It was an obedience thing for me," he said. "I wanted to know more. I felt like if I was going to be active in ministry I needed to know what ministry is. That's what Wayland has taught me. Now I have to take that and move forward."

Now that graduation is upon him, Burkett said he's looking ahead to where God may have him serve next. He's also not ruling out further education. "Whatever He wants, I'm available. He will see you get the ability if you have the availability."

Burkett credits the understanding and sacrifices by his wife, Helen, who runs the business' office, and his three sons, Floyd II, 16, Adam, 14, and Christopher, 12, with helping him endure the past three years as a student and a businessman.