Titles for Leaders
My devotions today bothered me. I am reading the works of Ignatius of Antioch, bishop around 69AD. His words as he is being transported across Turkey to a martyr's death in Rome just nailed me.
"For the work we have to do is no affair of persuasive speaking; Christianity lies in achieving greatness in the face of a world's hatred."
"He who died for us is all I seek; He who rose again for us is my whole desire."
"Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips, and the world in your heart."
Wow! He really meant those things and died those things. That level of faith I find compelling and humbling.
Then I opened a bulletin sent to me by a friend. What bothered me in the bulleting was the splashy display and repetition of titles, honorary titles of "Dr._______" and "Dr. ________" It almost looked like a competition of who had the best title among the gathered clergy. All sorts of "Doctors" but no PhD's. The problem for me is that in the congregations I have served (Lafayette, IN, Muskegon, MI and New Brighton, MN) we had large numbers of professors, physicians, dentists, and psychologists. None of whom insisted on being titled at church. You could not find a title in the directories. They wanted to be known by their names, not their degrees or positions. So what's with us pastors?
I bless my brothers and sisters who do advanced degree work with DMin and PhD degrees and those who are honored with honorary Doctors of Letters for careers or leadership. But I'm not sure it helps the cause as much as letters like Ignatius.