Titles Fancy and Plain

“So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” – Luke 22:27

Recently I have been thinking about titles and their significance.

For instance, the official title for the Queen of England is, “Her Royal Highness, Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and the British Dominions Beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith.”  Wow.  Try fitting that title on a business card.  Then again, if you are the Queen of England you probably don’t need a business card.

You don’t have to be a monarch to get an exalted title.  For example, fraternal organizations often use titles that are honorific.  If you ascend the ranks of the Elks, eventually you can receive the title Exalted Ruler.  Similarly, if you are a Shriner you can become The Grand Potentate.  Those are pretty fancy titles.

I once met General Wesley Clark, who had the title, “NATO Supreme Allied Commander.”  That’s quite a title.  Later, I said to my family, “You know, I’d love to have a job where you get to have the word ‘Supreme’ in your title.”

I was only kidding, of course.  I much prefer the titles given in church, which are considerably more modest.  Deacon means servant.  Pastor means shepherd.  Both are modest roles associated with service and labor.  And, of course, both are roles identified with Jesus.  He was a servant and a shepherd.

A deacon, while washing dishes after communion, said, “I feel like a glorified butler,” and I responded, “Exactly.”  And because Jesus was a servant, there is no higher honor.


Jesus, please show me how I am called to serve today, and then please glorify that service through your spirit. 

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is President of Andover Newton Theological School.  His newest book is Room to Grow: Meditations on Trying to Live as a Christian.