Title Insurance

I've been getting good at greeting people at the store with a "Sir" and a "Ma'am." I've yet to have someone take it as an insult, as in, "I'm not old enough to be a ma'am." I've even said it to high school kids which is sorta humbling, but when haven't I needed some humbling?

April, the woman I work the bakery with in the morning, adds a "Miss" or "Mister" to whomever she talks to. For instance, if a customer who comes by to pick up an order is named "Sam," she'll call him "Mister Sam."

I found that interesting because of an incident I had with a pastor at the Walnut Hills Christian Church [the church we're renting out for Echo]. When we first met, I called her by her first name, Cheryl. This went on a few times until finally, at the end of a conversation, she had a request for me. She asked that I addressed her as "Pastor Cheryl." I didn't get snippy about it with her. Since that conversation, that's what I call her.

One morning, when I was talking to April about me being a pastor, she asked what title I go by; April is a Christian, so she knows that many ministers go by a certain title- pastor, reverend, or whatever. I answered, "just Steve. That's what my friends call me, so that's what everyone can call me." She didn't say much to me about it after that, but I think she thought it odd. I'm a pastor, so why wouldn't I want the title that comes with it? I think her background, similar to Pastor Cheryl's, teaches that the title does matter.

While I might not buy into all of it, it is true that the way we address someone shows the level of respect we have for them. Even before this job, I would call men "sir" and they would make fun of me. I just told them I was being respectful; I was raised that you addressed adults as "Mr" or "Mrs." I'm not sure if people buy into "title respect" any more. At the churches where I've worked with children, I always insisted that they, at the very least, called me "Mr Steve." You might find that funny but it's important that kids, especially today's kids, be taught how to respect. If they don't, they grow up treating people like garbage and society goes to hell in a handbasket. If you treat people with the level of respect you would like in return, you'll usually get it back.

I still don't want people calling me "pastor," "reverend," or even "padre," because all followers of Jesus are ministers [I promise it's in the Bible somewhere]. I'm fine with being "just Steve." But, unlike Mr Dangerfield and in keeping with Miss Franklin, I would like to get a little respect.