Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. I Peter 5:6
I don’t know if you know, but I graduated seminary this past summer. I received a Master of Divinity degree.
I don’t know if you know, but I was approved for commissioning as a United Methodist deacon and will be commissioned this summer at Annual Conference. That means I can be called “Reverend.”
I don’t know if you know, but every time I forget to be humble, I feel like God sends me reminders. My mom called these moments when I “got too big for my britches.”
Recently, I visited a church in our area to discuss senior adult ministry. This church is part of another denomination. The day I had my appointment was also the first day I had my official “Rev. Sarah Boyette” nametag. I wore my nametag with pride and confidently entered the other church, expecting folks to notice those three important letters in front of my name. I was ready with a quip about seminary graduation and what stage of the ordination process I am now in, and how thankful I am to be at a place that recognizes my gifts and allows me to serve in ministry.
What I forgot, until I sat down at my appointment, was that I was there to listen, not to talk. The pastor I was meeting with had so much to say, so many gifts and tips for ministry, that I scrambled to take notes fast enough. I might have had a new nametag, but I’m still new at this and this pastor has been at it for 11 years. I have so much to learn, and as I exited the building, I said a prayer of thanks to God. Sometimes I forget that even though I have come a long way, I’m not done learning.
I learned my lesson that day, but I had to re-learn it the next day. That day, I helped serve at drive-in communion. When one of my friends came to receive communion, I proudly told her how I was approved for commissioning and I even have a new nametag! See what’s new on this nametag? I asked her proudly and boldly, thinking I was pointing to those three special letters: Rev.
“Not really,” she replied, kindly, and with a giggle.
I looked down. I was wearing the wrong nametag. My nametag didn’t have those three special letters, “Rev.” on it.
God loves us all equally. Those of us that spend years in seminary and struggling through the ordination process are no better, more holy, or more accomplished than those who chose other paths. Sometimes I am so grateful for where I’m at, so proud of all my hard work, that I forget I didn’t get here alone. I forget that I’m the same person. Only the nametag has changed, and somedays, not even that.
I am grateful for each person who helps me learn and every time God helps me see that I’m just like everyone else, even if I do have a fancy nametag.
God of all of us, please help us remember that each of us is a child of God, called and loved equally by you. Help us remember that our nametags and other status symbols don’t make us special. We are loved just the way we are. Amen