I don't know about you, but I have never thought it a good practice to use the title "Reverend" before any pastor's name. That he is a pastor, or an overseer, or an elder, or even a bishop…I'm fine with all those titles. But "Reverend"? Reverend comes from the same word as "reverent" – a word that means showing the utmost respect or adoration. We are reverent before God. We show him the greatest of respect and honor. But to use a similar word for oneself – as if we are worthy of respect and honor AND WE WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW IT – well, there is my problem.
Now I will grant you that I would agree that most pastors do not get the respect that is due them. I recall, now many years ago, an older couple who, while raised in the Roman Catholic church, had started to attend the church I pastored. They came for several years and then suddenly quit coming. Once their absence was clear, I visited them and then learned of their reason for no longer coming. "We just couldn't handle it," they said. "We were raised in the Catholic church and there you respect the priest. You listen to him and do as he says. But in your church, it is as though no one listens to you or respects you. We just couldn't handle it. And so we have gone back to the Catholic church." Well, that illustrates what we face in Protestantism. And maybe it is because of that that some pastors WANT to use the title "Reverend." Maybe they are hoping that with such a title there might come to be some greater regard for them and what they have to say.
But I am still on the page of avoiding that title.
George Whitefield, even with his thoughts on slavery (he was not an ardent abolitionist), still remains one of my favorite preachers of times gone by. Whitefield, in the 1700s, might be likened to the rock stars of today, complete with his "groupies" that followed him. In the minds of those who hung on his every word, Whitefield could do no wrong. He was truly revered – at least by those who adored him. But to these, as well as to his critics, Whitefield once said, "What kind of man George Whitefield is, the great day will tell," meaning, just what kind of man I really am, God will judge on the great Day of Judgment. I like that.
So instead of calling yourself or any other person "Reverend," be reminded that God will judge just how good, righteous, holy or worthy of respect we have been. But let's leave that judgment up to him and him alone.
By His Grace,