Titles in Leadership
Then there is selfish motivation in leadership, and people wanting to be in the limelight. That is so dangerous in the work of the Lord. John writes about a man who was like that. In 3rd John 1:9 he says:
"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes [His name is interesting in that it literally means fed, nourished, or fattened by Zeus, who was the supreme god of the Greeks. From a Christian perspective, Zeus is none other than Satan himself. Keeping this in mind, let's see if we can discern the spirit that was inspiring Diotrephes' fondness for basking in the limelight of human superiority], who loves to have the preeminence [Gk: 'fond of being first, i.e. ambitious of distinction'] among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will remember the things that he does, criticizing us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself will not receive the brethren either, and forbids those that want to, and casts them out of the church."
Wanting to be in the limelight, wanting to be the big shot, that is the way of the world. The World System is to take your boss's place; to rise up in the company; to be above everybody else; to take a place of reputation. So going along with it, is the use of a beautiful title. It is wonderful to have a title, isn't it? Instead of being ordinary Les Crause I have to have a title. People will work so hard for a title. They will work and study like mad so that they can put a title in front of their name.
"Dr Les Crause - now that sounds impressive!"
But you know the most deadly thing is when people begin to take the call of God and use and abuse that as an excuse to exalt themselves by putting a title. And what is the big title?
"You don't call me Les. How dare you? You don't even call me brother Les. I'm not a brother. I'm the pastor of this church. You will call me Pastor Les. In fact, even that is a little bit too familiar. You can call me Pastor Crause, please, and show some respect for a man of my authority."
So people will walk up and say, "Excuse me, pastor, may I talk to you? No, pastor, yes pastor, thank you, pastor."
It sounds so spiritual doesn't it? It sounds so humble. But it is contrary to the Word of God. You will not find the title 'Pastor' anywhere in the New Testament. And Jesus specifically forbade it. Here is what He said in Matthew 23:1:
"Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to keep, that keep and do, but do not follow their actions; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, that are difficult to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move one of their fingers. But all their works they do in order to be seen by men. They make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the uppermost rooms at feasts, the chief seats in the Synagogue, greetings in the market, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' But you, DO NOT be called 'Rabbi', for One is your Master, namely Christ, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father upon the earth; for One is your Father, who is in Heaven. Neither be called masters, for one is your Master, namely Christ.
Maybe that really should say, "Neither be called pastors, for one is your pastor, namely Christ." I prefer that translation. I think we are going to make that in the RAPV translation, don't you?
"But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant," Jesus said.
It is all there, guys. If you want to be called, rabbi, if you want to be called pastor, or if you want to be called anything, reverend? If you want to be called by titles, Jesus said, "No. Don't you do that."
Who was He talking to? He was talking to His disciples. He was talking to the guys who were going to become the top dogs in the church. He was talking to the twelve who were going to be the apostles.
He said, "Don't you dare use titles and have people call you by titles. You humble yourself, and you be a servant of all."
It is the way of the world isn't it?
You say, "But surely Paul called himself an apostle? Is it wrong for a person to call himself apostle?"
"Well, when you talk to me you do not say, 'Brother Les.' You don't say, 'Pastor Les,' because I am higher than a pastor. You will call me, 'Apostle Crause' please."
So when you address me you say, "Excuse me, apostle."
Oh for goodness sakes, it is putrid! It is stupid! But people are doing it. They are tripping over their feet in false humility to try and impress the man of God. Paul did not address himself as 'The apostle Paul' and neither did anybody call him, 'Apostle.' They called him 'Paul' because that was what his name was. But Paul did not have a problem telling them what his calling was. Paul did not have a problem acknowledging the ministry office that had been placed on him.
So, he could comfortably say, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ." Usually he said, "A servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle."
In one place he makes it very clear that to be called an apostle means to be called to demotion and to become the scum of the earth. So I would not brag about being called apostle. Do you want to use a title? You are out of order. It is contrary to what Jesus taught.
But by all means, if you know you are called; by all means, if that ministry gift that God has placed upon you is sure and is clear, there is nothing wrong with standing up and saying, "The Lord has called me to be an apostle, to be His servant, and to go forth in His Name."
I have nothing wrong with that. I do not have a problem with somebody saying, "God has given me the office of prophet, and I stand as a prophet today to speak to you in the Name of the Lord."
There is nothing wrong, because your boast is not in yourself. Your boast is in the Lord. But when you insist that somebody refers to you as 'Prophet So-and-so' and they drop the word prophet, prophet, prophet with everything they say to you, it is exactly the same as pastor, pastor, pastor. It is the same as rabbi. At one stage Jesus even took the word teacher and said, "Don't be called teachers. Don't take titles."
Hey, if you have studied to be a doctor and you want people to call you Doctor, go for it. You know, I have found something amazing amongst doctors - I am speaking about medical doctors - but an ordinary medical doctor, a general practitioner who is just a trained doctor, is a guy that everybody calls, 'Doctor.' But he studies a few more years and gets a post graduate and becomes a specialist, and it is too humiliating for him to use the term 'Doctor'. He becomes known as 'Mr. So-and-so.'
I do not know if it is that way in your country, but it was in the country that I came from. A specialist does not use the term 'Doctor'. And for you to call him 'Doctor' is a humiliation for him. Why? He is above that. He is beyond that. He has got out of all the nonsense of trying to be the local GP. He is headed for the top and has a greater vision to specialize and to bring healing to a specific type of person. He has lost the vision.
He is no longer concerned about saying, "Well, I studied for so many years and I became a doctor, and there is the label on my desk and on my door to say, 'Doctor So-and-so'."
Hey, if you studied to be a doctor, you have the right to use the title. I do not have a problem with that. But what is your reason for wanting to use the title? To overcome your insecurity? To have people recognize you and admire for your achievements? There is no place for that in the work of the Lord. I do not care if you have a doctorate, if you want to go into ministry drop the doctorate. You are a servant. You should be as humble as Jesus, who girded Himself with a towel and washed His disciples' dirty, stinky feet.
"Are you prepared to do that, Doctor Reverend So-and-so?"
Let it go. Do not follow like sheep. Do not be like the world.