Be Real Not Revered

December 17, 2016

I never liked being called Reverend.  I know it is a designation to show that you are an ordained minister, but only God should be revered.  I tried once to get listed as Pastor or Pas in the phone book to distinguish me between the other Ron Shultz, the cattleman, that lived in a RD#4 with me.  The phone gal was perplexed and asked what religion I belonged to and I said I was a Baptist, but just not into that title. I finally acquiesced to Rev because you can’t fight city hall or the phone company.  When I would preach at a church and they would introduce me I did all I could not to cringe when they said, “This is Reverend Shultz and his wife” because they would say Reverend in an odd tone that seemed creepy or like they were introducing royalty or something.  I know they meant it out of respect, but to a small town boy whose friends were mostly in low places it was a bit weird.

People have strange concepts about pastors.  The two main ones are either we put a man on a pedestal so high that he gets dizzy until he falls and takes many with him when he hits rock bottom or we have the “Bounty dish towel” philosophy where you bring him in to clean up your mess and when he is falling apart from the stress and dirt you toss him to the curb and get a new one.   Neither of those are biblical views of a pastor.

I Tim 3 gives the traits of a pastor.  Many bypass most of the main ones, but as my pastor says, “I won’t chase that rabbit or go down that trail.”  That is another message.  It is a tough description that I don’t think any pastor has ever fulfilled in the dotting every i and crossing every t mode.  He should be at least really good in some of them and striving for perfection in the others, but there is no perfect pastor.  If there were such a man, he would not have a church because everyone would feel condemned around him and run from him.

A pastor/elder or whatever you call him is a brother with the pastoral gifts.  He is not God the Father who controls everything.  He is not Jesus Christ in that He is not perfect yet seeking to be Christlike.  He is not the Holy Ghost as some pastors think they are micromanaging every detail of their member’s lives or saying that person had a gift to teach and must teach or else.  Usually that is not the case. The pastor just needs a teacher and guilt trips the person into doing something they will be frustrated in and afraid to quit lest they be out of God’s will.  You can tell one of these lads when they get nervous about somebody questioning something they preached or did.  They will break out the “touch not God’s anointed” or “don’t go up against God’s man” sermons.  I have heard men say that if you don’t tithe God may burn your house down or kill your child.  If you ever hear any of those types of sermons, please get out of there!  Run, do not walk!  That is not a man to sit under for spiritual guidance and wisdom.  He is in great error and on a power trip.

As I said, I know Reverend started as a means of respect but using Pastor or even Sir can show that.  To revere someone is a bit much as that word’s meaning is more like to be awed by someone or for someone to even fear you.  That may be the way people viewed their pastor back in the day, but then that is maybe how we got into some of the messes we have because people put the lad on a pedestal causing a soaring ego.  I never wanted my congregation to revere or fear me although there were times I would remind them how fortunate they were to be under grace.  After all, those who would not hearken unto the priest back then were brought to the city gates and stoned.  I imagine more people remembered more of the sermon under that process.  Today, they are out the door and maybe remember a story or a joke more than the main message.  I guess that is also where the fear factor came in to make the priests revered.

I was asked what the people were going to call me when I was called to pastor a small church.  I said that anything not derogatory was fine with me.  I was happy with Bro. Ron.  All the ThD thing did for me is keep me from being called Reverend wherever people revered pastors.  Doctor is a step up from Reverend, I reckon, but it sounds less weird to me.  For me, I wanted ThD to mean Thoroughly humble Dude since others like those letters more than I do.  Anyway, the folks decided to call me Pastor Ron.  They could have just called me Ron and I would have been cool with that.  I know some old school folks nearly fainted at that thought.  “You can’t call a pastor by his first name!  Where’s the respect?”  Hey, considering some of the names I was called in high school and boot camp, Ron is awesome respect.

Some people might respect the title, but if they do not respect the man with the title then what’s the point?  A deacon once asked if I was in the pastoral ministry for the prestige of the thing.  I laughed and asked what decade was he living in.  There is not much prestige in being a pastor unless you have a mega-church and a TV show.  Other than that, it means you have a target on your back for churched and unchurched alike to shoot for a bulls eye.  If anyone is truly respected the title means little.  If a person must have the title used then they have other issues and maybe even not someone to respect.

Often a title means you have to be unreal because that title has some sort of weird ideas with it.  You must be somewhat a snob in some places.  You are never transparent or let your guard down lest they find out you are human.  You cannot fail or sin, not even the “little” ones. You cannot fraternize with the members lest they lose respect.  After all, familiarity breeds contempt, right? Only if your view of a minister is warped and weird.  Remember, pastor human, member human so expect both to be human.  No one is perfect!  A pastor experiences nearly everything an average Joe experiences and maybe some Joe will never know.

Early in my ministry, I did try to cater to those warped views of what a pastor should be like and I was miserable.  I felt like I was in a box that I could not dare peek out of without someone being ready to cast me to the curb.  I am not sure what finally got me to jump out of the box and say forget all that hooha.  Now, I am what you see is what you get.  I am Ron.  I am not perfect.  I want to serve the Lord in whatever capacity I can.  If I am now too old, where I was once too young or too fat, too short, too this or too that for you then I reckon I will serve somewhere else where they have different and maybe fewer too this or too thats.  I can have a position and title or I can be the Maverick on the range or do spiritual guerrilla warfare, but I will serve and do ministry somewhere until I am no longer physically able or die.  I want to be real, not revered.  God did not call me or any other man to pastor as a caricature or clone of some other pastor.

So, to my fellow ministers, get out of the box folks may have put you in.  Want to be a minister?  Then do not get in a box.  Be real.  God called you like you are and He is the one you have to please, not some job description or character role a board made up.  This may cause you some stress and even cost you some places of ministry. The stress of trying to be what you are not is worse and may well be a factor in the high drop out rate of pastors in America.  Let God mold you into what He wants you to be and He will provide the place where the people you minister to will be absolutely fine with that,   Seek to be real, not revered.  In the long run, you will get more respect from people and you will have more respect for yourself.  Maranatha!


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