Letters

OF TITLES AND SCRIPTURAL PATTERNS

Many years ago, we were preparing for a conference and I was preparing the resume of Guest Ministers; there was someone who I didn’t know what title best described him, I went to my boss and asked, “Daddy, is he a Pastor or a Reverend?”. He looked at me and said, “I don’t know, but this is Africa, you will never go wrong using the higher one, because they will get very angry, if you lower their title”. Ok sir!

I said this story so that you can know, that the craze for titles isn’t something new. Let no one lie to you, it didn’t start with our generation, it will not end with it. So it is what it is; it is our culture. Try addressing a Chief without his prefix, or have you ever tried addressing a Professor by the title of Doctor?

Unfortunately, this mindset has creeped into the church, and today, it’s taking a dangerous and upward dimension. Everywhere you look are Apostles – all manners and all shades of them. Men who became Apostles because their spiritual father is one, men who barely know their right from the left – yet they are Apostles; people whose faith are not grounded, men who at best should be called brothers.

But, what is the biblical pattern and standard? The biblical standard is much more about the works, than the title; in scriptures, it is the works a man does in ministry that gives birth to his title.

Thou Apostolos – Don’t bother with the title. Get interested in the work. Gordon Fee, a leading New Testament scholar in his time, said it well, “Paul didn’t pick the title at the beginning of his ministry, the title only came later. It’s the calling that precedes the vocation. He is simply called to be a messenger of the gospel and a founder of churches. Then, as a result of that ministry, the vocation begins to take shape and eventually becomes titular.” Paul didn’t have the title Apostle in Acts 13, though at that time he was called and sent. The title came after the work was well grounded.

Again, we must understand that Paul worked, functioned as an apostle first, and only later took on the title. Paul’s apostleship came from below, from service to God, from service in and for the church of Christ. The results of his ministry were clear.

Dear Minister, you will not become an apostle by confession or saying it. No! You will become by serving, living and functioning as one. Apostle means sent. Are you sent? What is your message? What are you asked to do? What is your function? What roles are you called to play? When you have the answers to these questions, and you are doing them, then the title will come, until then I suggest you maintain the name ‘Brother’ or just stick with your family name.

No, this doesn’t only affects Apostles, but all the ministry offices – you can’t just go around, hopping around, saying you are a pastor – when you do nothing! Ministry is about service and you can’t use ‘service’ names except you are truly serving.

I hope this 34th letter helps. It wasn’t my intention to make you sad, but if it does, then we must take comfort in the words of Paul, godly sorrow leads to repentance. Grace to you!

Your Greatness is Assured

Fisayo Adeniyi

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