More About A Minister’s Title

Dear Editor of Standard Bearer:

I couldn’t resist responding to The Rev. Gise Van Baren’s challenging last sentence in the Feb. 1, 1988 issue of S.B., and compliment him for interjecting some long overdue humor into the magazine, via Carl Tuyl’s article: “The Reverend’s Last Stand.”

Well, here’s what I think. The idea of a Pastor, and what the term means to me, should NOT be “an illegal alien in the Reformed vernacular”. Rev. C. Tuyl says that the term pastor or shepherd has a one-sided connotation; but what a beautiful side!! The picture of a shepherd is certainly rich in Biblical history. Jesus himself was the Good Shepherd. A shepherd is a humble occupation and one that requires the utmost dedication. A shepherd is a servant to the sheep, not an important mighty leader. It is also a lonely job. (We would do well to consider this as we remember our own pastors in prayer.) A Shepherd says to the sheep, “Follow me in the green pastures of God’s Word.” This doesn’t imply passivity on the part of the sheep, as Rev. Tuyl implied. They do have to put one foot in front of the other!

Scripture speaks of pastors and shepherds in regards to the people of God. In Jeremiah 3:12-19 we read: “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” This implies teaching. See also Jer. 2:8, 10:21 and Eph. 4:11. I couldn’t find anywhere in scripture where the words “Reverends” are mentioned.

Jesus, in fact, warns against being like the Gentiles in their use of authority in Matt. 20:28—”Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Doesn’t the term “pastor” typify this attitude better than “The Reverend”?

We don’t have to go overboard on this attitude, and go around attaching a first name to Pastor, as in ‘Pastor Bill’. Of course, ministers don’t have to call us (older) women by our first names either.

To sum it all up, I have respect for the Reverends, but I have even more respect for those humble enough to desire the title “Pastor”.

Sincerely yours,

Nancy A. Kuiper