Titles

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People like titles.  I have previously written about a professor who insisted on the title “Doctor” being used. To be fair, I also had one sociology lecturer who in contrast would only respond to ” {name withheld} You old fart”. But he was trying to make a point of the dangers of deference in an academic setting and its impact on free exchange of ideas.

But, (as per what seems to be becoming my theme of the week) attitude and pride seem to be a greater issue than names and titles themselves. Jesus reflected on this in Matthew 23: 5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (NIV).”

Some titles are honorific (British school children address their teachers as “Sir” or “Miss”), others social niceties (“May I help you madam?”), some convey levels of attainment (“Captain”, “Major”), and yet others power (“Mr President”, or “Your Majesty”).  Titles do serve a social purpose, but in the context of Matthew above, I don’t see Jesus objecting to a father being referred to by their offspring as “Daddy” nor acknowledging that A, B, or C is “my teacher. ” It seems more that the issue of humility should be remembered and the desire to be so “honoured” should be tempered by the realization that even instructors have an ultimate teacher.  It is almost as if He was making a point about capital letters. Yes, a man can be a rabbi, father, or instructor – those are adjectives, but the nouns used as hierarchical tags are dangerous.  We all have jobs to do and roles to play, but mounting airs about them diminishes our appreciation of Who it is that gave us those skills, talents and positions in the first place.

Okay, I often joke that I have six degrees and no common sense (both are true), and that I have more letters after my name than in it (again true), but that isn’t “who I am.” I am a fellow pilgrim and while I use the tag “Padre” for this blog, that is a carry over of an honorific used (I hope lovingly) from my chaplaincy days.  All in all though, I take greatest assurance in being called “brother,” for in so doing it shows I am a “child of God.”

Padre (padre)

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