All of us have titles. Professor. Mrs. Miss. Ms. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Ministry lead. Grandmother. Supervisor. The list goes on and on.
Because I work on a military base at a military museum, I have two titles that cause confusion at work: Chief and Doctor.
I’m a retired Chief Master Sergeant. In some circles, it is considered rare to see a female Chief. Less than 8% of Americans have ever served in the military. It’s less than 1.5% of female Americans who have served. Within each branch of the service, the top 1% of the enlisted corps makes E-9…or in my case Chief Master Sergeant (aka Chief). I happened to retire after 25 years of active-duty service at the same location I now work as a civilian. As a result, some still call me Chief.
While I was near the end of my career in the military, I earned my Doctorate Degree. It doesn’t matter if you are a Medical Doctor (MD), a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), or a Doctor of Education (EdD), you’re referred to as “Doctor.” I happen to have a civil service job, where I am routinely referred to as Doctor Shade.
I joke that I worked really hard to make Chief and I worked really hard to finish my doctoral degree. However, I happen to really like the name my parents gave me: “Emily.”
And yet, I will give all those earthly titles up for the one title that my heart desires most.
“Child of the One True King.”
I’ve found that when I disregard my titles, I think of myself more as a servant of God. A servant does not try to glorify themselves or honor their own accomplishments, but they divert that glory and honor to their master. In John 8:50, Jesus said, “And I seek not mine own glory.” Four verses later in John 8:54 He continued with, “…if I honor myself, my honor is nothing: it is my Father who honors me.”
We see the example of diverting attention to the master through the behavior of Jesus, who repeatedly was asked if he was the Messiah, and yet He continuously re-directed the conversation to the Father.
Philippians 2:5 -11 (NASB) states, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bondservant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. For this reason, also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
This gives me pause on using my own titles. Perhaps I should give them up…
The Bible is full of examples of others who don’t give themselves titles. Moses doesn’t refer to himself as “Prophet Moses.” We don’t see Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, or John the Baptist call themselves “Prophet.” Paul doesn’t refer to himself as “Apostle Paul.”
When referring to myself with a title, am I elevating myself past “servant”? Perhaps. Maybe this is simply splitting hairs because we live in a society that uses titles to determine status. However, I’ve truly given a lot of thought this week to my own titles…and how I can become more servant-like.
What titles are you striving towards? Which titles are you willing to give up?