They will nickname him “Emmanuel” which means, ‘God with us.’ Matthew 2:23
As I flip through and update my linkedIn account, Facebook page, church website, and reprint business cards…I’ve wondered what title should I have:
- church planter
- organizing pastor
- lead pastor
I remember at my first job some grammarian wanted to discuss the difference with me of being a Director of Youth Ministries vs. a Director for Youth Ministries. I have seen people get frustrated over being an Assistant to vs. an Assistant for. Al Sharpton is bestowed the “Right Reverend” honorary title, while other personalities make their congregation call them “Pastor” when they are more apostolic then shepherding in their tasks. End of the day, I hate Job Titles.
Perhaps this disdain stems from my quip that my final title was perfect “Minister of Evangelism and Administration” as it terrified the people outside the church (Evangelism) and annoyed the people inside the church (Administration). But the challenges of titles expands beyond the church walls.
As I survey Scripture, I do not see Jesus giving his disciples titles but nicknames.
- Cephas becomes Peter (John 1:42); and at one juncture “Satan”
- Saul becomes Paul (Acts 13:9)
- James and John become Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17)
- Joseph is called Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36)
Even God Incarnate takes on a multitude of nicknames: Christ, Messiah, Son of God, Son of David, Son of Man, Lamb of God, Alpha and Omega, God with Us, Save us from our Sins (aka Jesus).
The difference between a title and nickname is a title tries to confer authority onto a person, while a nickname describes who they are and what they do. Nicknames show what authority they have earned in someone’s life.
Its an interesting sidenote that we also use title to describe the ownership of something, such as a Car Title. In essence are you allowing your business to “own” you with the title that was given to you? Are you succumbed by the weight of these titles that it is keeping you from living into your calling? The truth is that for most of us, one day our names will be replaced by someone else’s who will take on the same title; nicknames, however, are the legacy you leave.
For example, “Dad” is not a title given to me by the hospital at the birth of my children having fathered them…”Dad” is their nickname for me that will last on their lips long after I am dead.
So as Waypoint continues to mature, I have wrestled with do we really need titles?
A few weeks, I was talking with someone, and she asked what church I attended. After saying, “Waypoint” she said, I’ve heard of you all, what do you do there? And when I replied “I’m their pastor,” she got awkward and apologetic quickly. I relished that response though because if our community is being “known” outside my title then we are accomplishing the mission of equipping people to share their faith into the places they inhabit and influence.
Therefore, I would rather us highlight our nicknames…as I like to call myself an Equipment Manager after Ephesians 4:11-12
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to EQUIP God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
My role as the Equipment Manager of Waypoint Community Church is to equip others for the kingdom building work.
Likewise, when I met Brad Bailey, our “worship leader,” he wonderfully described himself as a Tour Guide. He said his role was helping people move through the worship service pointing out where God is at work.
With an equipment manager & tour guide, Waypoint is showing the dedication to the mission of training people for their journey faith so that they may draw one step closer to Christ in order to be pushed one step further out in mission.
As our community continues to grow, we are excited about the ways God is bringing real people with real gifts in so that we all can live into these new names in our relationships, schools, homes, neighborhoods, city and globe.
So are you willing to shed the hollow titles to live into a new name?
What nicknames describe you?