Giving Up Titles
So, to carry that principle forward, a lot of people have given up the title of “pastor.” Now, they’ve not given up the gift of shepherd; that’s different. The gift of shepherd is vital to the Body of Christ, but the title of “pastor” is a hindrance to the Body of Christ because it makes everyone else feel inferior. “Here’s my ‘Holy Man.’” There are a lot of religions that have a “medicine man” or a “holy man” at the top. I realize I’m stepping on some toes here, but I’m insulting myself, too. We can have a food fight—you can start throwing food at me in a minute—but we’ll go away pretty soon and then, like I said, you can just forget this happened. : )
So I’m gonna say it, but look at my heart. If you heard it on a tape you’d say, “How does he have the right to say that?” But hear my heart, because I used to do it too! But I read “Call no man ‘Father’” and I applied it to my original heritage as a Roman Catholic. I hear Him say, “Call no man ‘Leader,’ ‘Master.’” He said, “Call no man teacher.” Do you not think that includes “pastor?” Why would that not include “pastor?” “Pastor Rick.” No way! You’re not calling me “Father Rick.” You’re not calling me “Pastor Rick.” You’re not calling me “Teacher Rick.”
Let me go one step further. How many times in the New Testament do you think anyone was ever called “Brother Rick” or “Brother” anything? How many times out of thirty years do you see it in the book of Acts, even though we do it all the time? We call someone “Pastor So and So” or “Reverend So and So” or “Father So and So.” But we think we get really spiritual and we call them “Brother So and So.” Thirty years’ time in the New Testament, and written by the scientist Luke, who captured a thorough, orderly account, how many times in the New Testament was anyone ever called “Brother So and So?” Anyone know? Twice. “Brother Saul”—and he wasn’t converted yet! He was still a Jew both times!
Ananias said, “Brother Saul” and then later on it’s referred to again. It’s the same event twice. “Brother Saul.” He was a Jew! There’s never one time, zero times in the entire New Testament where anybody called someone else “Brother Rick” or “Brother Dan.” Never happened. Why not? Because it’s a title and Jesus forbids titles. Now, here’s what they did do. “Timothy, my brother…” Ah! Now that’s different, because now I’m describing a relationship. I’m not giving a title. I can say, “You are my brothers and sisters,” and I have no fear of that. Paul said to Timothy, “You’re my true son in the Faith,” but he didn’t say, “Son Timothy.” One is a title and the other is a description, and the description is okay if that’s what we mean from the heart, “You are my brother.”
I can say, “Brother So and So, Brother So and So, Brother So and So”, and it doesn’t mean anything does it? That’s just religion. But if I say, “You are my dear brother in Jesus. He has bonded us by the Spirit of God. He has washed us in the blood of the Lamb, and I am forever yours, and you are mine. You are my brother.” Now that has deep meaning to me. It makes me want to cry just saying it. But that’s different than just calling everyone who shows up at a church building “Brother So and So.” Or when we pick up the phone, “Hey brother Dan!” You’ve known me for eighteen years, and how many times have I said “brother Dan” to you?
Never. I would’ve hung up if you did. (laughs)
And thankfully, he’s never called me “Brother Mike” either. But here’s the point. Jesus forbids, clearly forbids, in very clear absolute commands, just like “Do not steal,” He forbids titles. Well, now we’ve got to deal with that somehow, because people still want to call us by titles. The gifts exist, just like brotherhood exists. The gift of shepherd does exist, but the problem is that as soon as someone starts calling me with a title, he’s revering me as his boss even if he doesn’t want to. He’s been brainwashed into thinking of me as being “Holy” and himself as being “lowly.”
That will interfere with their relationship with God, and I can’t let that happen. He needs to know that he has the same Jesus in him if he’s truly converted as I have in me, and we’re no different. We just have different gifts. Some Gifts are more visible than other Gifts. Gifts may not express themselves the same way; some gifts are quiet. Some are treated with special modesty and protected and not seen so much, but the Jesus in them is the same Jesus as in me; no more, no less. Either they’re saved or they’re not. If they’re saved, then all of Jesus lives inside of them and we just need to help each other pull the weeds so Jesus can express Himself.