Think, for a moment, about titles that we give people. There are many titles that we use. Some are endearing, some titles hold authority, and others seem to have both properties. There are some titles of pastors that I would like to discuss today.
I had a leader show me once what the difference between titles was. They pointed out the fact that our placement above our employees gave us the title of boss. The better title to shoot for was leader, but that one had to be earned.
They then showed me by example how to earn the title of leader instead of being a boss. Don’t get me wrong, when it came time to use that positional authority of boss, they knew how to use it. They usually didn’t have to because she earned the title of leader.
In the church, the same principle exists. In fact, in Matthew 23, Jesus tells us that we are not to Lord over one another. He says that the greatest in the kingdom will be the servant of all. He says that leaders in His kingdom lead by serving. They are to lead by example.
If that is Jesus’ standard for us, He raised this bar. We ought to look at our titles in the church. We should specifically look at the titles of pastors.
Titles of Pastors
Let’s start with the title of pastor first. The term comes from the French term pastour or to shepherd. We are called to be Jesus’ under-shepherds. This term shows this position. It is a term that I believe is still endearing in churches. The church needs to recognize that Jesus is our shepherd and that the pastor has been given the accountability of Jesus’ flock. This is not the pastor’s flock.
Some pastors have taken the term senior and put it in front of the pastor title. It is taken to note that they are the top pastor in charge. In fact, the word senior means to hold a high and authoritative position.
This is not necessarily a bad title. There are some churches that are very large that have many pastors. This title could be useful in those cases.
There are some churches with one pastor, in this case, I am not sure the title is necessary. Just plain pastor will do as there will be no confusion in these churches as to who the pastor is who is in charge.
As we look at Jesus’ example, I am a little uncomfortable with that title though. It seems that some in the church have taken the title of Senior Pastor and have used it to denote their authority. That is a little bit like calling yourself the boss.
Yes, the authority is there as it is given by the Lord for us to rule our congregations well. Now you are pointing that authority out to the flock. It may not be the best title to use if you are trying to be a valued leader.
Some are now calling themselves the Lead Pastor. It means to take initiative, action, and to be an example for others to follow. This is closer to the heart of what Jesus meant when he said for those who want to be great, be the servant.
Being the lead can also mean to take command or be in charge. It can hold the authority that is needed and given by Jesus. It also is a term of endearment who look to their leaders to be the first soldier on the field of battle and to be the last one off.
We Want Servants In the Church
Often, we see pastors who sit off to the sidelines commanding people, telling them what to do. Instead, people are looking for pastors who lead the charge into battle from the front.
Pastors, we can be another “boss” for people, putting rules out there for people to follow. There is a better way, to be servant of all, leading people for the Lord! It does not matter what the titles of pastors are. What matters is that we take the Lord’s example, leading by example, and loving people.
What do you think about the titles pastors use?