Call Me Friend

Jeanine’s ordination bestowed upon her the title of reverend. We had to celebrate, of course; so we presented her with a purple, collar shirt and card. The card read something like this: “Jeanine, we’re proud of you! But what do we call you? We figure the “Most Holy Right Reverend” will do.” Smiley face, smiley face, smiley face!!! She laughed, grinned and said, “Thank you. You honor me with title and gifts. But just Jeannine will do.” We looked upon our boss with esteem. Yet, she didn’t want our accolades or a title. More than these, Jeanine needed our prayer, support, and friendship. Titles—to some they’re important, and to others nothing more than hullabaloo. What say you? For some, I think it depends on how the called sees him or herself: as one elevated, or one humble for the sake of the call. For me, the later is true. American Lutheran Church honors me with the call and title of Pastor. I’m grateful. Still—for me—being a pastor is not about a designation; it’s about representation. Serving is not about a title, but that of the call. Like Jeanine, I hope to be known as a servant of the Lord. I’m called to teach, preach and comfort, and also to befriend. Truly, I’m honored to encourage others to live for the Lord. Still, I don’t need an accolade; what I likewise appreciate is prayer, love, and friendship. Serving as a pastor is an amazing responsibility. It says to some in the community, “This one has a unique role.” Yet, I often remind myself that this cannot go to my head. I stay grounded knowing God doesn’t call me “Pastor.” He knows me instead as his child and friend. Outside the church, however, many people don’t know who I represent. Most aren’t aware that I serve as I do; probably because they can’t identify me by what I wear. I seldom wear a collar. I mean, it’s really, really rare. Now, wearing one is just fine. Still—for me—it’s not who I am. I’m an everyday Joe: blue jeans, sweaters, and a pair of leather shoes. Nevertheless, my not wearing a collar often makes life interesting, and real just the same. I often snicker when people cuss and then realize I pastor a church. Oddly, folks tend to mutate into something they’re not. Maybe it’s because the reality of God’s existence confronts them—not because of me, but because of who and what I represent. Being real with people allows me to reach out and befriend. The way I see it, the collar’s a barrier to be authentic in ways otherwise not possible. Some have a tendency to see status, and not the call for which the collar represents. It’s for these reasons and more that I choose to represent myself just as I am. At the end of the day, I hope to be known only as a child of God with a wonderful call. I’m not a “Most Holy Right Reverend;” I’m just a regular guy with a special role. And like you, I’m a servant of the Lord—one who needs prayer, love and support. Whether I’m “Pastor” or “Jason”—either is fine. But really, being called a friend—well, that’ll do! Being your friend: now that would bestow upon me a title that’d I really like to have.