“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life …” 2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV)
“Goodnight Minister Burrows”, he said as I walked toward the sanctuary.
I winced, annoyed with the security officer at my church who insists on calling me that. Something about the lighthearted phrase made my skin crawl. He had been saying that for several weeks at this point, and it had caught on as a running joke with a few of my friends. I hate being called 'minister'. In spite of the fact that, candidly put, it’s exactly what I am - a minister. I serve in the young adult ministry at my church, and upon occasion, I share a message with small groups and serve in our youth church. Practically speaking, I am in ministry; yet something about having a church related title made me shudder at the thought.
I love God. I love working with people in hopes of sharing His love, but I hate the notion of having a ‘ministry title’. I feel this way in large part because, in my observation, these titles come with what I’ll call the three ‘E’s’. Exposure, expectations, and expense.
Working for the Lord is a beautiful and noble calling. This gospel we believe and are privileged to share is the end and the means of all life. The opportunity to represent it also comes at unbelievable personal cost.
Having grown up as a PK or ‘Pastors Kid,’ I’ve literally and figuratively had a front row seat in the life of ministers. There is constant scrutiny, as well as seemingly endless demands from parishioners. Men and women of the cloth live under a perpetual microscope; their every decision from word choice to wardrobe is held up against the measuring stick of public opinion, and on occasion the actual word of God.
We are all witnesses to the pain, bewilderment and gossip that is associated with the now frequent ‘falls from grace’ which many ministers suffer. The fear of judgement, failure, or being put on a similar pedestal kept me wanting to keep as far a distance as possible from formal ministry titles.
However, I can’t argue with God’s Word, and the word ‘minister’ encapsulates exactly what believers, like myself are. We all have a gift, a light, and unique dispensation of the most beautiful and critical truth that the world has ever known. We all have the gospel, in our hearts, in our minds and on our lips. We are all admonished to administer this grace that we’ve been given to all of the people we encounter.
Beyond the collars, and the clergy, the rituals and denominational rhetoric we, all of us, are the church, the hands and feet of Jesus, charged to share this message by any means necessary to everyone we encounter. Even if that means sometimes letting people call you minister.
So I’m learning to put my feelings aside, and take charge of whatever discomfort I wrestle with. The charge is bigger than I am, it’s one that we all carry in our breasts because the Lord has given us a precise mandate.
“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand….” Matthew 10:7 (NKJV)
Whether you are called ‘minister’, as I am, or not, "as you go, preach".
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