Monday, November 17, 2014

Just JOY

I normally don't explain "personal" things on social media, but I do want to address a question here. It's a valid question and one that I feel deserves an explanation.

I've been asked, on a few occasions, whether an academic title is more important than a spiritual one. It was interpreted by some, because I formally sign my name as "Dr. Joy Allen", that I esteem my academic accomplishments above my spiritual gifts and call. I would like to address this question, because I know similar assumptions have been made about other leaders who follow the same practice.

In short, absolutely not! While I worked hard to get through school, my ordained assignment for God is a life-long commitment and privilege... it's my purpose and my destiny. Because it's so significant, I don't necessarily feel that my Kingdom assignments should be diminished to a title.

Those of you who know me well know that I have NEVER been a big fan of titles. Personally, my mother named me 'Joy', and I LOVE MY NAME! I do recognize, however, that titles have their place. They are a part of our culture. In some cases, they are likened unto a hospital sign. People need to know where to go in order to get what they need. On the other hand, the way we typically use titles is not biblical. We all know that. As I said, it's more cultural than necessary.

With that, I do refrain from using a title in many arenas, for many reasons. One very large reason is that people become bound by it. Here's the bottom line... I have to be free to do what God tells me to do, and that assignment may change from day to day or even from moment to moment. I've spent years of my life hearing what I should or shouldn't do because God called me to be this or that. Hog wash! 

For example, if an ordained Evangelist prophesies to someone, they are rebuked for not being a prophet. If an acknowledged Prophet lays hands on believers and sends them on assignment, they are rebuked for not being an apostle. Well, that's error. Have you noticed that those who have no title, or those who simply use their academic titles don't have so much drama with the church? Sad, but true. Who has time for the red tape? I'm not saying we should operate out of order. I'm just saying a title shouldn't perpetuate control. Think about it...

Another reason I often refrain from the use is that titles tend to distance people. When I am ministering to someone, particularly an "unchurched" person, the last thing I want to do is treat them like I'm above them, or otherwise special. No. My job is to relate and build a rapport so I can share the love of God with them. In many of those cases, sharing a title is neither necessary nor appropriate.

For me, my main concern is my assignment. God will grace and gift me to do whatever He requires of me. I don't have time now, nor have I ever, to wait around for someone to give me a piece of paper with another title on it just so I can get to work and obey God. That's not the will of God in any way, form or fashion. The practice of the New Testament church was to hear God, lay hands and send. So, I certainly do believe in spiritual affirmation. That doesn't, however, include the attachment of a title.

So, as strange as it may seem to some, I've found that using "Dr." in some arenas is just easier. It doesn't cause the distractions I often face with having to explain a bunch of stuff. It gives a sense of satisfaction and "authority" for those regular church goers who need to see a title to feel comfortable. However, it doesn't distance those who are uncomfortable with the use of titles. Plus, it's universal. I minister in arenas where pastors are called by their first names, and IT'S NOT CONSIDERED TO BE DISRESPECTFUL. I like that, because I also do not (and never have) subscribe to the belief that the Body of Christ is a hierarchy where leaders, or clergy, are higher or better than the "laity." I don't believe that's the message taught to us by the word of God. We are all children of God, and if truly born-again, we are all co-laborers in Christ... we are ALL called to be ministers of the Gospel, in some capacity.

So, there you have it... the short (or maybe not) version of my decision. Prayerfully, this will give others something to consider and think about. Trust me when I tell you... I honor every assignment God has given me, because He didn't have to choose me at all! Don't put me in a box, because God hasn't. While I certainly have some gifts stronger than others, I've operated as a teacher, an evangelist, a pastor, a prophet and an apostle at different times during my walk (as have most of the true servants of Christ I know). I will continue to serve in any arena God requires.

I'm humbled and thankful for every opportunity to bring God glory. At the end of the day, my name doesn't matter. My title doesn't matter. My ministry spans many different cultures and types of people. I want them all to know and respect God, rather than me. Did God get the glory? That's what matters.

I pray this helps someone. Love ya'll.

from Your Sister in Christ (that's what matters most)
Just JOY 

P.S. -- For the record, I always refer to others in a manner that makes THEM feel respected, title or not. I recommend we all operate that way.

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