Union Ridge Church

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

by Reverend Dan on September 7, 2022
I’ve been called “Reverend Dan” (along with a few other names) for the last twenty-five years. But after a quarter of a century, that title is one of the parts of being a pastor that I still struggle with the most. I appreciate the years of study that it took. And I understand what that title represents as a servant of God. And I understand it as a way to teach children respect. But the fact is, I still struggle. When I was very young, a pastor was an old man (except for Bob Logan and Doug Hill – great young pastors and mentors where I grew up), and those old men possessed great insight into how human existence intersects with the divine. They lived holy lives, spoke in hushed tones except when in the pulpit; then their voices thundered. And they always got to go first through the covered dish line at Homecoming. Well, let’s see . . . I’m old and I like Homecoming lunch. That’s about it. Worthy? Not even close. I still wonder what God was thinking when He called me – that confirms that His thoughts are obviously not our thoughts. And when I look at the elements of communion in my hands and realize what it is I’m offering to God’s people, I still get overwhelmed and emotional.

To this day, when I introduce myself to someone, I simply say, “Hi, I’m Dan.” The only time I use the title “Rev. Dan” is when I leave someone a message on the phone, and I want to make sure they don’t get me mixed up with another Dan. For me, it all goes back to a passage in Matthew’s Gospel when Jesus is blowing up the Pharisees (a hobby of His.) The Pharisees are loving the adulation they are receiving for how spiritual they appear to be. The seats of honor in the synagogues and at banquets, the way people greet them like they’re all that, but especially the titles: Rabbi. Father. Jesus tells them that there’s only one teacher, and only one Father . . . and they ain’t it. That scripture has always stuck with me, and now when I hear “Rev. Dan", I use it not as a reminder of status, but of humility. Of the God I serve and why. You see, I’m no better than anyone else because of what I do or what people call me. I’m no closer to God than anyone reading this or anyone not reading it for that matter. We are all equal heirs of God’s grace. Remembering that, and reminding others of it, helps them to not put me up on a pedestal. And that’s important because the higher the pedestal, and the more you buy into the press about yourself and drink the Kool-Aid, the longer and harder the fall is when it comes.

I saw something interesting the other day. The expected etiquette for the closing of a letter to the Pope is, “Prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness and imploring the favor of its apostolic benediction, I have the honor to be, Very Holy Father, with the deepest veneration of Your Holiness, the most humble and obedient servant and son/daughter.”
Yeah, that’s not me. “See ya, Dan.” I’m good with that. Just another old sinner saved by grace.