Who are you?
Acts 21:8 “Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.”
I spend my life with titles, some are earned, some are given and some are self-appointed.
Recently I noticed a friend who had been called Pastor X and then Bishop X is actually now called Archbishop X. I wonder what he will be called next? Would it be Cardinal X? Is that what is next, I am not sure what the progression is? You see those of us from Pentecostal/Charismatic streams have to nip inside other denominations and church structures now and again to take a title. I fear we are running out of titles. I mean what is there after Pope?
In my ministry I have been called Parson, Reverend, Pastor and over recent years Teacher, Doctor, Bishop, Servant (I like that one), The Very (something I can’t remember), Missions mogul (okay I just made that up!). But my favourite name is Paul (it means small). In my office when the staff get a little cheeky I usually say, “Do you not know who I am?!” This is always followed by everyone laughing. Why? We have a working culture where we do not take ourselves too seriously or look at ourselves through rose-tinted lenses.
This is the only time that Luke describes someone as an ‘evangelist’ in Acts. This is not because there was no one evangelising. Not do I believe it was because Philip had created the title and given it himself out of pride and self-importance. I believe it was because Philip had been seeing phenomenal results, especially in Samaria. The title was given not because this is what he did, but the results of what he did.
I kind of like that. I think perhaps results should matter more than we give our attention to.
Certainly this is so if we are going to lay claim to a title that suggests this is who we are.
Can a fishermen be called a fishermen if there is no catch of fish? I suppose, but for how long?
What about a farmer who never grows anything?
A Pastor who is never with people to care for them?
A leader who has no one following them?
A missionary who has never moved and told anyone from a different culture the gospel?
Faithfulness is important and it is God who always gives the increase but not if the person is in the wrong job or has taken a title simply because it had a fancy name or for prestige.
I have met many across the world who are trapped behind a title that at the time seemed great but it soon lost its gloss. They are not who they or others say they are. They have to feign results, make them up, or justify a lack of them.
I am not against titles, I wouldn’t be as I have one, but I think we should always live in correlation. If this is who we are then not only should we be doing this but it should be obvious to everyone that the title justifies itself.
With love, from the International Missions Director.