There are some folks in our congregation who call me “Pastor Erik.” It doesn’t bother me. For a lot of people, that is just how they refer to their pastor. It is like an automatic thing for them.
But if you ask me what you should call me, I generally say, “Erik is fine.” I don’t go out of my way to stick the title pastor in front of my name. It is not that I am ashamed of the title pastor. It is on the door of my office, and it is my email address (pastor AT bedfordroad.org), but I don’t attach it to my name for a lot of reasons.
Here’s the deal, if you really want to know. I’ll give you my two primary reasons for not referring to myself as “Pastor Erik” even when others do.
In the Scriptures, pastor is treated as a verb – an action – and not as a title. It is not appended to the names of those who were part of congregational leadership. People shepherded and pastored, but no one in the Bible is called “Pastor so-and-so.”
In my experience, sometimes this title of pastor so-and-so can become too much of a person’s identity. They forget that they are a person fulfilling a role in Jesus’ church, and they start thinking of their role as all that they are – all that matters. I’m the kind of person who would do that, so I make a conscious effort not to let that happen.
It is not that I actively discourage people from referring to me as Pastor Erik. That’s their prerogative, and it is up to them. I don’t have any deeply seated belief that drives me to tell others not to use the title as part of their name. I just don’t ask people to do it. I am happy with the name my parents gave me – Erik.
Pastoring is what I do.
Erik is who I am.