My intention in this article is to help free people from religious bondage. From a heart that tries to honor scripture as best as I understand it. And in no way am I trying to incite disrespect to any person. I only want love to abound, which includes respecting people.
In Matthew chapter 23, Jesus warned of the scribes and Pharisees who coveted prominence among men. And in verses 8-10, He specifically gave orders to call no man “Rabbi,” “father,” and “masters.”
So what was being communicated then, is just as valid today. That being: To God be all of the praise & glory; don’t use titles of superiority to address religious figures. It robs honor from God, and it feeds men’s egos.
We are all equal in the body of Christ, with different functions.
Job made a similar statement in 32.21,22: “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. 22. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.”
I personally no longer call any man “pastor …”. I just use his first name without a title.
And this had unexpected and unpleasant reaction to me once. Specifically, a pastor of a church I visited a few years ago was insulted at my calling him by his first name. And I found out about it when he made his feelings known in a sermon. Needless to say, I didn’t join his church. 😃
Can you imagine if Paul had expected people to address him with the title of “apostle Paul” when speaking to him?
I do however sometimes use the word “brother,” or “sister” though. Usually just as a whim of the moment, but sometimes I use these titles to put a person at ease if we’re having a doctrinal discussion. That way they’re not thinking that I’m challenging their salvation status. But those titles don’t convey any meaning of superiority.
But believe it or not…there was a specific instance I encountered once where even using the word “brother” as a title was inappropriate in my view. (Because of someone thinking that they’re more exalted than common folk, and that common folk shouldn’t be directly addressing them by their first name). Remember that angry preacher that I mentioned earlier? Well in that sermon that I mentioned where he let his feelings be known, I recall him stating something like: “If you can’t have the respect to call me pastor, then at least call me “brother…,” but don’t be just coming up to me and calling me by my first name.”
Now that’s a serious ego problem…when someone is insulted if they’re addressed by their first name. And we’re not supposed to pander to that kind of nonsense. This is the sort of overinflated ego that those Pharisees had that Jesus warned us about.
No doubt the world is full of this sort of thinking, but a man who preaches the word of God should know better.
So be all friendly, and have fun loving people. Using first names with religious figures like you normally do with anyone else. 😃