There is a popular trend that has been going around many Christian churches now for some time. It is the changing of title from Pastor to Doctor for many of our spiritual leaders here in America.
One of the main concerns regarding this trend, is the replacing of the spiritual title of Pastor or Reverend, with the new title of Doctor. Is this an appropriate thing to do? I leave it up to you to answer for yourself. We all know that here in America where titles go hand in hand with power and prestige, it is a form of success to climb higher and higher up the education ladder while adding more degrees to your academic resume. The issue I ask you to think about is this: Is it appropriate for a spiritual leader, someone called by God to lead His flock, to be a servant leader in humility, and to teach his congregation about the word of God, to possibly conform to the world's way of thinking and claim a title that is totally non-spiritual to replace a title that is nothing but spiritual in essence?
This seems to be gaining more popularity due to so-called, "Post Modernism". Now that more and more Pastors are continuing their studies and receiving their doctoral degrees, it is almost natural in our society to be called a Doctor and that seems to be the case in so many of our churches today.
In various dictionaries there are different definitions of the word Pastor. Some of these definitions are: A spiritual overseer; A Clergyman serving a local church; A Shepherd or Guardian; A Head Minister, etc.
There are also definitions for the word Doctor as well, and some of them are: A person skilled in healing arts; A learned or authoratative Teacher; A person licensed to practice medicine. And of course there are many other definitions for both of these titles. There is quite a bit of difference though in the meanings of these titles, and that is my point.
I want you to think back to the early church and to the Apostles of Jesus and ask yourself a question; would the Apostle Paul, who, in today's academic world, would definitely have the intellect and academic accomplishments of a person who has earned a doctorate, be willing to be called Doctor instead of Apostle, Pastor, Reverend, etc? I, for one, do not believe he would have cared in the least for a title of prestige and admiration. I believe that he would have not wanted any attention directed to himself due to his personal accomplishments, but in fact did everything to point all of the attention to Christ and His gospel message.
I want to make it very clear that I am in no way against a person achieving higher education and completing degrees and doctorates. I believe that anyone who works that hard and achieves academic success in the form of a degree, should be proud of themselves and always strive to be the best they can be in their field. The concern lies in the possible motivation for attaining those goals. If a spiritual leader who has been serving his flock for years as a Pastor, and has felt privileged to have such a calling and a humble title, achieves a higher form of degree in his studies and then chooses to change that title to fit his new academic status, shouldn't we question that action? Could this possibly be just another step up the ladder of conforming to the world's idea of success and prestige?
In conclusion, I just want to summarize my concern regarding this popular trend. If God has called our spiritual leaders to be Pastors, Evangelists, Teachers, and so on, why would they want to change their God-given title because they have attained a higher educational degree? There are many spiritual callings and titles in scripture, but Doctor is not one of them. The other concern I have is that most Pastors do not call themselves Doctor, but allow those around them to do so, especially on the radio and television broadcasts. If I am called by the Lord to be a shepherd of His flock, shouldn't I be completely humbled, honored, and privileged to be in such an incredible position of servanthood to my God? I cannot imagine why anyone would want to no longer be called "Pastor" but instead be known as "Doctor" when taking part in one of God's highest callings. I am not here to judge this action, but it is somewhat troubling and confusing to me. So I leave it up to you to decide for yourself. Do you want a Pastor or a Doctor as your spiritual leader and Shepherd? Something to think about.
You make an interesting point. Unfortunately,ministers (pastors) are not respected in the society like they were once, so there is the desire for many pastors to have a title that is respected in society once more. But we have lost sight of the special call and role of the pastor in the church, and it needs to be reinstated. (Ps) Kon Michailidis