Recently another pastor had a go at me (nothing new there!). He had overheard me chatting to some people from the church and was very upset because the people called me “Ben”…
I said I couldn’t understand the problem as Ben is my name. I’m just glad they are not calling me Scumbag!
But he was adamant: I need to insist on being called PastorBen, yes like one word! 😉
Meanwhile another pastor I know well with a church of 20ish has changed his title to ApostleJim. He has all the business cards, the website and everything.
It has made me think about titles and offices quite a bit. Why do people need the titles so much? Why does it matter? What does the Bible say about it all?
Starting with Scripture, there is NOT one single example in Scripture of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher EVER used as a title.
The phrase “the apostle Paul” is not in the Bible. Go and take the time to try and find it if you don’t believe it. Paul isn’t ashamed he is an apostle and will happily say Paul, an apostle. But he never uses the word as a title, because it isn’t a title, it’s simply a job description. No one in the Bible is apostle anything or pastor anyone.
Calling me Pastor Ben is about as logical as you being Taxi Driver Fred or Accountant Jeff. It’s not a title, it is simply a description of what you do with your time and skills.
So why is it so widespread as a practise? Firstly I think it is because so many pastors are genuinely insecure and need a title. Secondly, to exert unnecessary authority over people. Finally, I believe that people use it as a short hand to influence. Every pastor should be leading his (or her!) people forward but they should be doing that because people are confident that they have a God given vision and the character and resolve to see it happen.
In other words people should follow you because they trust you are going somewhere they want to be not because of your title. In this status obsessed value based society the church needs to be like Jesus, not the world.