When I speak to brothers and sisters in Christ I always hope to have conversations that edify and encourage one another. This is a primary motivating factor for me, and it is something I enjoy doing very much. In some of these conversations I’m positive that there are things I say that disturb, concern, or sometimes even offend (albeit unintentionally), and likewise in return. One of the things that I’ve alarmingly noticed more than before is the usage of titles when describing other believers, referencing them and their works, or when addressing them.
For instance, the term “Pastor” used in the manner that indicates position or stature. Most the occurrences that have caused concern is when I hear it used by people as if it were a proper name. “Pastor says that he’s going to have a sloppy joe and then hit the sack”, or “Pastor is excited about his new set of commentaries”, and “Hey, Pastor! How are you?” For the sake of argument, and the contrary belief that I abhor authority or leadership, I have nothing against someone discharging the duties of the gifting they have received from our Lord, or better yet, put that gifting to use in the gathering of the Saints through servitude and humility. It is a great honor and a high calling to be placed into a position that will call for greater accountability before the Lord and a gift that should not be taken lightly.
However, the centrality of the pastoral position in the modern service has skewed our perceptions of the gifting and the tenants of it’s application in the gathering of the Saints. A report of the social tendencies and common behaviors of mankind to elevate others to positions of celebrity or authoritative status could easily indicate (historically, statistically, and definitively) that it is not uncommon for leaders to rise to a status of high importance amongst their respective groups. So is it easier to be led by men and therefore preferable, or is it better to be led by Christ and follow His commands?
The argument can, and probably will be made that following after a pastor is obeying the commands of Christ because the scripture states that we should submit to our elders (1 Peter 5:5). Or, is this a bad example of what elders are, what their functions are, and the roles of the rest of the members in the body? I think something could be said for the importance of knowing these things, and most importantly re-assessing the role of clergy and laity while comparing it to the priesthood of all believers,
The sacrificial death of Jesus Christ annulled the Aaronic priesthood, as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews. There is no need to continue offering up literal expiatory sacrifices. As the perfect Son of God and High Priest, Jesus established a new covenant (Heb. 9:15-22) with better promises (Heb. 8:6) when he offered himself (Heb. 7:27) as the perfect victim once for all (Heb. 7:27) as our substitute (Heb. 7:27) and ransom (Heb. 9:15). By his death he took away our sins (Heb. 9:28), made us perfect (Heb. 10:14), obtained for us eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12), opened a new and living way in and through him to God’s throne of grace, and sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 10:12). He now invites every believer with a clean conscience (Heb. 9:14) to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19) to offer continually spiritual sacrifices (Heb. 13:15-16) as priests in Christ. (See Reference)
But yet, why do we see the pastor revered as if he were the sole mediator or more important than ourselves or others, and why do we replace their names with “Pastor” proper as if he is no longer a man or brother, servant, saint, co-laborer?
I suppose today, I’ll just be Saint James. Matter of fact, from here on out, I wish to be known as Saint. If for some odd reason this post infers that I have an aversion to authority or calling folks pastor, you’re dead-on to the latter, but maybe in need of further inquiry on the former.