April 11, 2011

What's Your Name?

We used to know a pastor’s daughter who, at age six or seven, drew a picture for my husband. On the page, she had drawn the figures of a man and a woman. She handed her crayon to my husband, asking him to write the names of her parents under their picture. “People call my daddy, ‘Dr. Smith,’” she explained, “but they call my mommy, ‘Miss Katie.’”

This story has become part of our private family repertoire, a source of wry chuckles years later.
Our perceptive little friend had stumbled upon the grown-up question of identity in ministry. Who, exactly, are we? “Miss Katie” to our husband’s “Dr. Smith.” Pastors’ wives, campus interns, fellow-workers. What is our title?

When I introduce myself to visitors at church, I always say simply, “Hi! I’m Megan; it’s so nice to have you with us today.” By not declaring myself to be the pastor’s wife I hope to:
• Create a welcoming atmosphere
• Put visitors at ease
• Define myself as an ordinary part of our church.

I can’t do anything about what other people call me, or whether visitors connect the dots to my husband in the pulpit. (And, let me be clear, the church must have men with titles—trained, called, and ordained to a specific ministry of leadership as in Ephesians 4:11.)

But for my use, Christ’s example is compelling: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. . . .” (Philippians 2:5-9)

If we are nameless by earthly standards, we can take encouragement from Christ. He didn’t have much of a name either: “nothing,” “servant,” “man.” But God was so pleased with Christ’s earthly humility as to reward him with an exalted name in eternity.

We who belong to Christ can be content to take the lowly place because we know it is precious in God’s sight.

Years ago, one woman would refer to my parents as “Reverend and Patsy.” I think she probably got it right.

1 comment:

  1. In my area of the country, being nameless outside of church is an advantage. People here are not afraid to get to know a co-worker and then find out she happens to be in ministry, as well. But, they will avoid you from the get-go if they know you are a minister's wife.


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