The use of the word "reverend" when speaking of a man has always bugged me! One has to wonder how the Christian community ever came to refer to ministers as "Reverend." According to my trusty Webster's Dictionary, the word "reverend" is defined "worthy of reverence; deserving to be revered." It is from the root "revere" which is defined "to fear; to feel awe; to venerate; to regard with deep respect." The word "venerate" is defined "to worship; reverence; love." It is easy to see how a word could be viewed as applicable to a person if it is taken on face value, but when one investigates the source of the word, it is certainly an inappropriate word for a man. It is true that a person who is called of God to serve as an ordained minister should be worthy of respect, but revered, I think not.
As a former pastor, I had studied for eight years to prepare myself for the ministry and although falling far short, I made every effort to live a Christ-like life. I believe that in the eyes of the congregation who hired me, I was worthy of respect, but to be revered, no way. I refused to let them call me "Reverend" because, even though the members were not aware of it, the term elevates a man to the stature of God. Those outside our church who wanted to aggravate me used to call me "Rev"; they got quite a kick out of my reaction. I always made it clear that the word is found only once in the entire Bible and it refers to the name of God (Ps. 111:9). They would just laugh and say "we are only pulling your leg" or words similar.
For those who did not read yesterday's post, it was entitled, R.E.S.P.E.C.T., and it explained how God and the world view worthiness of respect from totally different criteria. Great achievements, efforts, or sacrifices impress the world, but only humility seems to please the Lord. The congregation that hires a pastor looks at his credentials and decides whether or not they could respect him as their shepherd. Israel saw Saul as a mighty man due to his size and strength, but God used David to unite the nation and to slay a man far bigger and stronger that Saul. Abraham, Moses, David, John (the baptizer), and even Jesus were humble men. The Apostle Paul called himself an apostle because he was one; not that he deserved it for he knew how unworthy he was.
Genuine humility comes from the knowledge that everything in our life is a gift from God. The air we breathe, the food we eat, our family, our possessions, our health, and especially our salvation are all the result of the love of God for us. If I have an education, He gave me the ability to understand, to pay the tuition, and the opportunity to attend school. If I have a good job, or in these days any job at all, He makes it possible. If I have a family, dysfunctional or not, He has provided it. I think you get the picture. Whatever we are able to do, whatever we have, however strong our faith in Him, He has given it to us. Genuine humility recognizes that we are the work of His hands, and we should never think we are better, or superior to anyone else. When I see someone who appears less fortunate than I, I try to remember that "BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, THERE GO I!" Call no man reverend; only God Almighty is Reverend.