One of the things that happens fairly often for me is people asking me what I would like to be called. Recently I was being introduced as a speaker and the woman who was introducing me asked me, "How do you prefer being introduced?" This is always tricky for people who do not know you - they are trying not to offend and I fully understand it.
I have been introduced or called Dr. Yates, Reverend Yates, Pastor Yates, Father Yates, Brother Yates, and Mr. Yates. I have also been called "Yates", on occasion. If I had my preference, I would simply like to be called "Steve". If your parents taught you to be a bit more formal and you are much younger than me then I will understand if you call me "Mr. Steve or Mr. Yates".
Honestly I am not offended when someone attaches a title to my name but I find it very confining. I am by nature a rather informal person and find titles to be much like putting a label on someone - just call me Steve and I will answer every time.
If push comes to shove and I have to put a title with my name I think I would go with "Servant". I tried to do that some years ago and no one would cooperate - the closest I have come is "Minister", which basically means the same thing. People will say, "This is my minister..." Then someone wants to call you "Senior Minister" or "Pulpit Minister" or "Associate Minister", etc. What is it that makes us want to put titles on people?
I am always trying to remind myself that the inspiration of the Protestant Reformation was the idea of "the priesthood of all believers". I have a real aversion to any distinctions between believers by titles - the clergy and laity stuff just doesn't work for me and I think has a crippling effect on the creative energy for good of the Christian church in our world.
Whatever our gift or talent may be, we are all just servants and what an honor to be called a servant of our loving God.
Being an effective leader is not about titles - it is about authority, power, and influence that is rooted in your character and integrity as a person. We can wear any title we want but if we act like a fool, we will not be an effective leader.
So, you can call me....Steve, just a servant, of a gracious and loving God.
Unless you are my grandchild - I go by Papa. I hope in some small way I am able to show them that Papa is really just a servant and that it is truly a wonderful life.
Just thinking, Steve