Sunday, July 5, 2015

Addressing a Minister

Three years ago I reconnected with a pastor who used to work with me at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. One day at his church, we got into a discussion about how pastors should be treated. My friend had congregation members calling him by his first name despite asking to be addressed as “Pastor Lee.”

Romans 13:7 tells us to give honor to whom honor is due. Civil authorities expect to be addressed by certain titles. Courtroom judges are called “Your Honor.” Policemen are often addressed as “Officer.” If you were a White House guest, you would refer to Barack Obama as “Mr. President.” If you lived under a monarchy, you would address your king or queen as “Your Majesty.”  

While serving in the U. S. Army, I quickly learned to address my superiors the right way or I would get in trouble. If a noncommissioned officer such as a sergeant gave me an order, I was expected to respond, “Yes, sergeant.” If I accidentally addressed him as “Sir” (a title reserved for officers), the sergeant would yell back, “I’m not a sir. I work for a living!” If I talked to one without addressing him by his rank, he or she would say, “Who you talking to?”  

Likewise, it’s proper to honor our spiritual leaders. Jesus said in Matthew 10:41, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.” 

However, some ministers take titles too seriously. One man I stayed with wanted to call me “Evangelist Post.” I didn’t object since that is my primary ministerial calling. At the same time, this man insisted I address him as “Apostle So-and-so.” The only ministry I saw him actively involved in was helping out at a local food pantry.

On rare occasions people have called me Reverend Post. I don’t care for that title because it sounds old and ancient. It’s also worth noting the word reverend appears only once in the King James Bible and refers to God Himself. Psalm 111:9 says, “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” Catholic priests are called “Father” despite Jesus saying in Matthew 23:9 (AMP), “And do not call anyone [in the church] on earth father, for you have one Father, Who is in heaven.” I find it odd Mormon missionaries call themselves an “Elder” when most of them are college aged.

Some spiritual leaders shouldn't be concerned about titles and just do the stuff.

“Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.” - 2 Corinthians 1:24

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