Reverend, pastor, preacher, father?

I have always encouraged people to call me “pastor.” I don’t like “preacher” because that only describes one aspect of my ministry and because it is often used in a negative way (“don’t preach at me”).

“Pastor” better describes what I do, and almost always has a positive feeling — more akin to being a servant or shepherd.

I have never liked “Reverend” and avoid it as much as possible. However, I accept the title as one of respect and usually let it pass until I have a chance to gently move the the title over to “pastor.”

However, I don’t think Jesus is speaking literally in Matthew 23. In that passage he not only mentions “Father” but also says the same thing about “rabbi” and “teacher.” I find it interesting that any church that has “Biblical” grounds for not calling their minister “Father,” or “Reverend” almost always has several people who are named “Teacher.” Apparently, they are kind of selective in what terms to take literally and which ones to take figuratively.

From the context of Matthew 23, Jesus is talking about having a love of titles and position. Jesus says that instead of seeking such things we are to be called “servants.” “The greatest among you will be your servant.”

Clearly, the Apostle Paul didn’t take Jesus’ words literally. He wrote to the church at Corinth: I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. (I Cor. 4:14-15 )

Note that Paul gives himself the title “Father” in this Scripture.

So…I don’t like the title “Reverend” but prefer “Pastor” — not because I think Jesus was forbidding the title, but because he was encouraging his followers to seek servant status in their relationships with others.