CLERGY CORNER: My Favorite Title

Posted on 21 June 2018 by LeslieM

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29 NRSV)

On the day of my graduation from Seminary, I earned a degree, Master of Divinity, M.Div. for short, and I was able to put these letters behind my name.

On the day I was ordained I received a title, Minister of Word and Sacrament. I was able to put the title Reverend before my name, Rev. for short.

And people call me Pastor Jeff, which is what I prefer to any fancy title, and it works for me. But I must confess, there is another title I wear with pride.

When my children were born I became a dad. I remember when I dropped them off at preschool before I went to church, and their tiny little classmates would come up to me to show me a project or say hi and they called me “Rachel’s Dad” or “Nathan’s Dad.” For instance “Hey, ‘Nathan’s Dad,’ look at what I just did.” My heart was warmed by their cuteness and sweetness. But I loved the fact that they didn’t refer to me by any name or title, but simply by my connection to their friend, my child. At that moment, I wasn’t Reverend, Pastor, Minister or Master of Divinity, I was simply “Rachel’s Dad” or “Nathan’s Dad,” and that warmed my heart more than any other title that was given to me.

With the title “Dad” comes a job and as challenging as the ministry can be, being a dad has its challenges too. It requires an awful lot from us and pushes us to our limits. And when we come through these challenges, the love that keeps our family together gets even stronger.

I ask myself the question: “Can I love God more than my kids?” The Bible tells me that I must be willing to forsake even my own family. Frankly, I don’t know if I can do that. I know that this challenge pushes me to my human limits but the challenge is still there.

And then I realized something about God. He, too, has many titles and names. Adonai, Elohim, El Shadai are just a few names/titles of God. But Jesus teaches us to call upon in prayer with the words “Our Father.” And when Jesus called upon God in prayer he used the word “Abba,” roughly translated, “Daddy.”

I wonder if God’s heart warms when he hears his children call upon Him in prayer. I wonder if “Jesus’ Dad” is a title that filled Him with joy. I know that any God who would prefer to have us call him “Father,” “Daddy” or “Dad” must love us the way we love our children. And considering the magnitude of God, that is a lot of love.

As a Christian and a father, I realize that I am not forsaking my children when I love God more, on the contrary. When I love God, he loves me back. And the abundance of God’s love spills upon everyone who is near.

As a human being, I have limits. God, on the other hand, does not. And when my love is tested and pushed to the limits, I can tap into a source of love that is infinite.

As a Christian dad, I find that God’s love spills upon my children every time we pray, every time we worship, every time I am in their midst.

I know that Father’s Day can be a challenging day. I was fortunate to have a wonderful dad and I hope his legacy lives on in me as I am fortunate enough to be a dad. Not everyone is as fortunate as I and I realize this.

We have a Father in God who loves us very much regardless of our fortunes and misfortunes. He calls us to call upon Him in prayer as Father, Daddy or Dad. And, when he loves us, it spills and blesses all who stand in our midst.

Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.

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