Thrive: Insisting on Titles – Katie McKown


“They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi.”
—Matthew 23:6-7

Most of us understand it’s impolite to blatantly brag. We might want to do it, but we know culture frowns upon it; however if we’re keen enough we’ll find a way. Passive-aggressiveness and the #humblebrag are popular aids in such situations. Existing for applause is an alluring, yet dangerous temptation.

It’s imperative to have a healthy sense of self. God loves us and created us good—thanks be to God! So what is the balance between celebrating our strengths and being an out and out braggart?

In Matthew 23, Jesus condemns religion that exists for self. Friends, it is hard NOT to exist for self. We want things the way we want them. We want the best position on Church Council; budget funds used our way; the pew-view unobstructed by pillars; the right people on the Deacon Board; accolades for volunteering; power, and the most comfortable chair in the Fellowship Hall (you know, the one with the padding).

Strutting accomplishments or education or calling isn’t the way of Jesus. Wielding power in the church isn’t the way of Jesus. Even rigid insistence on titles—lovely titles like Reverend or Rabbi or Doctor—can trap us into thinking we’re better or higher or beyond. Titles for the sake of sticking it to somebody are not of much interest to Jesus.

The fuel of a braggart is applause for self; it is a saccharine substitute for celebrating strengths. The fuel of one who celebrates strengths is God’s grace. The balance between celebrating strengths and bragging is the answer to this question: Is what I’m doing or saying for God’s glory or mine?

One who celebrates strengths uses gifts for God’s glory: farming for God’s glory; serving as deacon to God’s glory; being a grocer for God’s glory; nursing for God’s glory; laughing to God’s glory, and waitressing to God’s glory. What a grand thought to wake each morning praying all we do and say will be to God’s glory!

Prayer: Thank you, God, for loving us and making us good. Help us celebrate our strengths to your glory! Amen.

katie mckown_smKatie McKown is the pastor of Scottsville Baptist Church in Scottsville, Virginia. She is a graduate of George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco. Katie enjoys blogging at Hermeneutics in High Heels and cheering for the Washington Nationals.

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