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Some time ago, a dear friend of mine passed away. He had health problems for years and I was asked to speak at his funeral. Years earlier I also had the privilege to be in his wedding, so we had come full circle, in some ways.


Yet there was something odd at the funeral, new to my experience.  There were many speakers in this long service, and what I noticed most was....their titles- everyone had them, the women, the men, and if one listened carefully and watched closely, it was obvious where certain titles told of higher position.  The pamphlet listing the order of events had given me a title too, perhaps out of not knowing what to say, it labeled me as a "Reverend." But that was the tip of the iceberg. For the titles were numerous, and it seemed everyone had one.


I recently noticed how online social media groups also abound with titles as do various religious groups:

  • Lady ------------
  • Bishop ------------
  • Apostle ------------
  • Evangelist ------------
  • Superintendent -------------
  • Pope -----------
  • Cardinal ------------
  • Archbishop ------------
  • Venerable ------------
  • Pastor ------------
  • Senior Pastor ------------
  • Priest -----------
  • Metropolitan -----------
  • Reverend ------------
  • Prophet ----------

Questions that come to mind:

  1. Does the New Testament sanction honorific titles?
  2. Do honorific titles feed the pride of men and women and amount to self-promotion?
  3. Does it draw attention to the person rather than to Christ?
  4. Does it promote the power and status of that individual?
  5. Does it promote the elitist clergy / laity system that has been the bane of christendom for centuries?
  6. Does it detract from the glory of Christ?

We believe these questions answer themselves. One's mind is drawn to Matthew 23:5-8:


But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, Christ...


Paul spoke of himself as an apostle, yes, for he was one, and his authority often had to be established. But we would be hard pressed to see Paul taking the title as a blade of power and prestige. In his epistles we find a better set of adjectives used of Christians such as: "brother," "beloved," "fellow-worker," "laborer," "slave," "bond-servant," "prisoner," "fellow-soldier," and "steward."


1 Peter 5:3 gives a better way:  "...nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock..."   Instead of seeking a title, position, and honor, let us seek to example. Or better yet, just be an example and don't worry about being "seen" as one.  Its the same snare.


With regard to Christians and their functions individually, the New Testament doesn't distinguish between a clergy and laity.  It tells us all believers are priests, and that there is an equality. Different gifting? Yes. Is there leadership and oversight in the local church? Of course. Different functions and roles? Yes.  But the love of titles and position and power a blight.


Philippians 2:3   Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.



verses nkjv