Yes, By All Means, Call Me Right Reverend.

I had the occasion to write out “Jesse Jackson” just a little bit ago, when I was writing, I was compelled to use his title “the Reverend.” It’s how we usually hear his name in the media.
I also was watching a clip, just yesterday… how did I get there? Oh yeah, a tweet from someone I follow sent me to an “Elephant Room” clip. It was interesting, but what caught my attention was, that of the 7 Pastors in the conversation, only T.D. Jakes was referred to as “Bishop.” I recall being introduced to a catholic priest when I was a younger man. And I remember giving pause every time I had to say his name. Should I call him “father?” That is, after all, how he was introduced. All I could think of was Jesus saying: “don’t call anyone your father.” –Matt 23:9 

In the context of matthew 23, Jesus is excoriating the Pharisees because they loved the place of honor and the respectful greetings. (Have you ever had that awkward conversation with someone where they insist that you call them by some funky nick-name?) Yeah, it feels like that!
Over the years I have been called Pastor, Reverend, and even messiah by someone completely ignorant of christianity. I don’t mind being called Pastor, because I believe it’s what God has called me to be, but when the title is thought of as somehow exhalted, or important… I reject that.
David Guzik comments on these verses: ” It is also seen in the expected etiquette for closing a letter to the Pope: “Prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness and imploring the favor of its apostolic benediction, I have the honor to be, Very Holy Father, with the deepest veneration of Your Holiness, the most humble and obedient servant and son/daughter.”
-Yeah,… it goes a little far don’t ya think?

I’m a servant leader, and that, only by the grace of God.
I am certainly not reverend.

“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. –Matt. 23:12


One thought on “Yes, By All Means, Call Me Right Reverend.

  1. Hi Jim,

    Good post. I came across it while searching. I don’t know of you otherwise.

    There are a some things that I have come to understand over the years.

    There is no such person as the apostle Paul in the Bible. Nobody used their calling as a title. They always said their name then referred to what God had called them to do. I don’t believe we should use anything in front of our name as a title.

    And to use “reverend” to me is blasphemous. Truly there is One who deserves titles, the King of kings and Lord of lords. And only Him! I mean who are we to exalt ourselves at all? To me, with a view to what God thinks of our self-exaltation, it is a fearful thing.

    I am sure you are aware of the “lord it over” portion of scripture which I believe applies as well. Jesus was a Servant of both God and the people He ministered to. We are not above our Master, are we?

    There is a wonderful scripture in Job

    Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man.
    For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.
    (Job 32:21-22 )

    God showed me a while back that the self-exaltation we do is a root sin of man’s heart that can be seen back in Babylon when they were going to build the tower of Babel.

    Gen 11:4 And they said, Come, let us build us a city and a tower whose top reaches into the sky, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over the whole earth.

    They wanted to make a name for themselves. And isn’t that the same thing we are doing when we use titles?

    The Kingdom of God does not have a hierarchical leadership structure. That is the world. And Bible translations have been slanted and mistranslated for centuries to perpetuate the idea that there is.

    All titles are a form of self-exaltation. God told us to humble ourselves and He would exalt us in due time. I think if there was a lot less self-exaltation and a lot more humility and obedience the Body of Christ would be in a far better state.

    I am not writing to contradict or argue but simply to offer some possible insight to push you further down the road you seem to already be on.

    God bless you brother.

    Steve Phillips

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