10 Reasons Why I Don’t Insist People Call Me ‘Pastor’

Pastoring in the 21st Century

I pastor in a rural context where I’m called ‘Pastor’ more than my actual name. It’s almost like my identity. But I tend not to insist (or expect) everyone to use the title of ‘Pastor’. There’s certainly nothing wrong with using the title; and for most, it’s simply a way to show respect. I don’t disregard that. I just simply value relationships over a title.

10 Reasons Why I Don't Insist People Call Me 'Pastor'

When I was a boy, I dreamed of becoming a pastor. I guess with that, came the title and honor.  From a child’s perspective that might have been where my dreamed stopped.  But as I actually embrace the pastoral call, I’m realizing being awarded the title really isn’t that important.

There’s a whole lot more to pastoring than the title.  And there’s a whole lot more to me than pastoring.  There’s a whole lot more to #pastoring than the title. And there’s a whole lot more to me than pastoring. Click To Tweet

I’ve chosen to respond to both those who use the title, and to those who don’t.  I don’t hide from my calling and I certainly don’t lie about what I do in the community, but they aren’t usually the first words out of my mouth either. We have to remember that we live in a pluralistic world. Most people don’t view clergy like generations before us.

I want to share ten reasons why I don’t ask people (especially those outside of my local church) to call me ‘pastor’. Hopefully this will help you, wherever you are in your journey, to realize that relationships are more valuable than a title.

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A Poorly Written Government Motion?

A Christian Response to M-103

Canadians are stirred up over the recent private member’s motion (M-103) that was tabled back in December 2016.  You can read the motion here: Systemic racism and religious discrimination. As of this posting, the House of Commons has begun their debate (February 15, 2017).

M-103 A Poorly Written Government Motion

Despite the numerous concerns being voiced, it’s expected that government will pass the motion.  This really shouldn’t be difficult to understand since we are still living in the aftermath of events like January’s attack at a Quebec Mosque.

What’s of more concern, however, is the riled “Christian” response.  Many are upset that Government is protecting another religion over their own.  Many believe this is step one, to losing their freedom of speech.  Others still believe that this is the back door to a “hidden agenda”.

Whatever the debate at hand, this is a poorly written motion that will pass and Christians will have to come to understand how to navigate the Christian faith in a shifting Canadian landscape.

Christendom is over…

Canada is not a Christian country.  It hasn’t been one for quite some time.  We are a nation that encourages and celebrates diversity.  That doesn’t mean Christianity doesn’t belong in Canada, it just simply means policy is not influenced by Christianity.

Pluralism is in…

Some argue we are in a post-Christendom era, however, with motions like this one on the table, I would argue that we are even further from that.  Perhaps it’s more accurate to say Canada is in a “Plural-dom” era – where policy affects religion, and yet religion doesn’t affect policy.

A Poorly Written Motion

If, in fact, we are living in a pluralistic culture, ALL religions should be protected within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  That doesn’t mean everyone will agree, rather, everyone has the right to believe what they believe.  Any further motion and potential bill, should aid in protecting against ALL religious hate crimes and should speak to ALL religions, and not just one.  Currently, Islam is the only religion specifically mentioned.

The implications of naming only one religion only further damages the very idea government is trying to encourage. If all faiths are equally protected, then all faiths should be mentioned or no faiths at all (keep it general). With only one faith mentioned in this motion, it will unequivocally end in further hate towards the faiths not mentioned and protect Islam before the rest.  Blacks and Jews, for example, both experience the highest rates of hate crimes in Canada.1

Further, the lack of clarity in the motion doesn’t help.  Will you be able to challenge or debate anything? The very act of healthy criticism and discussion is what helps us to shape and understand the belief systems we all believe in.  Healthy criticism and debate is far from hate, but a lack of clarity leads people to uncertainty.

If the actual intent is to protect all faiths, then M-103 is a poorly written motion.If the actual intent is to protect all faiths, then M-103 is a poorly written motion. Click To Tweet

With that said, I pray that any resulting bill that may, or may not, be placed before the House will be written with clarity and with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in mind.

So how should a Christian respond?

I understand these are uncertain days and that people can feel threatened.  In a pluralistic society, however, we have to be very careful in how we respond.  If we want to make a positive impact for Jesus, here are some guidelines:

1. Celebrate in the fact that our government would like to stop hate crimes.

This should be a win for any believer.  Hate is not a good thing and Jesus calls us to love one another – even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  What’s even more exciting, is that the Canadian government wants to take action without instilling fear.

2. Pray for our leaders.

Our leaders will make decisions you may or may not agree with, but the tensions they are trying to navigate are vast.  They need our prayerful support, not our unleashed anger (1 Timothy 2).

3. Ensure to give others the rights they deserve.

In Canada, everyone has the right to choose a religion and state their opinion and beliefs.  We should remember that this is a biblical concept – it’s called freewill (2 Peter 3:9).

4. Voice concerns in a respectful way.

Be intelligent, act responsibility, and be above reproach.  Everyone has the right to speak, but speaking out of anger or fear is not having “the same mindset as Christ” (Philippians 2).

While the problems with M-103 have the potential to be great, we need to learn to respond with the same Christian values we long to protect.

Christendom is over and pluralism is our new reality.  The best voice Christians can have is one of respect and concern for those with different beliefs.  God loves everyone and wishes all of them to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), but that message is lost when we selfishly try to restore Christendom in a nation that has already moved on.

Your turn…

What are your thoughts on this private members’ motion (M-103)?  How can Christians responsibly navigate the days ahead?


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Are We ALL ‘Children of the same God’?

A Response to the Call of Unity and Salvation

The call for unity and peace has never been greater.  The world is searching for an appropriate answer for the political, religious, and racial tensions that overwhelm the news every day.  Unity seems to be the best solution.  If all positive people unite together to obtain peace and love, we’ll be alright.  The problem – while peace and love can be unifying characteristics, it doesn’t mean we believe the same thing.

Are We ALL Children of the Same God

In a recent homily, Pope Francis said this:

“All of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical [Protestants] brothers and sisters – children of the same God – we want to live in peace, integrated.”1

Are we really “children of the same God”?  Is his understanding correct?  Can there be more than one meaning to that phrase?  I believe Pope Francis is correct in what he means, but misleading in what he said.

God is the Father of Humanity

From the beginning, God created both male and female in His own image (Gen 1:27).  God is the Father of Adam.  In Luke’s genealogy, Jesus is literally related to “Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38). God is the Father and creator of every person on this earth.God is the Father and creator of every person on this earth. #Gen1 #Luke3 Click To Tweet

Sin Changed the Relationship

When Adam and Eve sinned, the relationship between humanity and God changed (Gen 3).  God remained as our Father, but we failed to remain his faithful children.  In family terms – because of sin, we are no longer natural heirs of the Kingdom.  God is our Father, but our sin has forfeited our rights as His children.

God Made a Covenant with Israel

As history unfolded, God made a covenant with Abraham, and through him all of Israel, to be a great nation – “the children of God” (Gen 15, 17; Ps 82:6). The Israelites would be God’s chosen people.  Even then, however, the people turned away and lost their blessing (Jer 2; Hos 11).  God remained as their loving Father, but His children relentlessly turned away.

Until the turning point – when Christ was born.

Jesus Provides Adoption

Through Jesus, and only through Jesus, we can become reunited as God’s true children.  He always was, always is, and always will be our Father, but the only way we can receive the “right to become children of God,” is by “receiving [Jesus] and believing in His name” (John 1:12).

As Paul wrote:

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

4 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Gal 3:26-4:7, NIV)

Until we accept Jesus we are like slaves and have no right to Kingdom.  We are all created by the Father, but naturally heirs of our sin.  When we accept Jesus and follow Him, we not only become “adopted children,” but also “rightful heirs” of the eternal Kingdom to come.

Where we misunderstand each other…

Pope Francis is a positive wildcard in the Catholic Church right now.  He is stirring a new generation of Christians to engage in acts of service and love.  His true “Good Samaritan” acts, like washing the feet of Muslim migrants, is truly humbling and inspiring.2  When he said all are “children of the same God,” he was referring to our origin, not our salvation.  Our word choice and our understanding of those words, can dramatically impact authentic unity.

I believe God is my Father.God is the Father of all, but those who follow Him are His children. #ChildOfGod Click To Tweet

I believe Jesus, God’s son, is the only way to the Father.

But I also believe in peace.

I believe in choice.

I believe all people (who God created) have the ability to choose their path.

That means all people are created and Fathered by God, but not all people will choose to become rightful children of God.  We are not ALL children of God simply because He is our Father.  God is the Father of all, but those who follow Him are His children.

Your turn…

How have you used the phrase “Children of God?”  Are you a “child of God?”


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Who’s More Important: Jesus or Me?

The One Who Really Matters

We’re living in a world that demands our every moment of every day. Whether its politics, our jobs, family, friends, local church or community, we find ways to keep busy. The question is – who is at the center of all those activities? Is Jesus the one who really matters in our lives, or do we put ourselves in the center?

Who's More Important - Jesus or Me

The more we put ourselves in the center of our lives, the more we move away from Jesus. The more we move away from Jesus, the more stressed we become about the things we can’t change and the less likely we are to take the healthy risks that are required to follow Jesus’ agenda.

Jesus desires for us to selflessly use our resources so to benefit the Kingdom, not us. Click To TweetTo put this another way – are we being selfless or selfish?  If Jesus is at the center of our lives, then we use our money, time and energy for the benefit of Jesus.  If we are at the center of our lives, then we use those resources for our benefit.  Jesus desires for us to selflessly use our resources so to benefit the Kingdom, not us.

As I reflected on this personally, I thought about the two potential options this way:Discipleship Journey: Selfless vs Selfish

I know I need to make sure I’m moving towards the selfless side, but my humanity clearly wants to pursue the selfish side.

So how do I make sure I’m becoming a selfless disciple of Jesus?

The answer: start putting Jesus in the center.

That might be easier said than done.  I get that.  But let’s start with a simple narrative from Luke’s gospel.

Mary and Martha…

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42, ESV)

Luke is trying to teach us about holy hospitality – how we welcome and allow Jesus to be the center of everything we do.  So much so, that we almost allow Jesus to be our host and we follow His lead.1

Mary focused her attention on Jesus.  She humbly took full advantage of the opportunity with Jesus. An opportunity that, in their culture, wouldn’t normally be an option.

Martha, on the other hand, was distracted by being “anxious and troubled about many things.” She was doing well and serving her guests, but was selfishly overwhelmed.  So much so, that when she spoke to Jesus she referred to herself three times (10:40).

Are we disciples (selfless) or are we distracted (selfish)?

I think we get distracted in our world of busyness and perfectionism quite often.  We get caught up doing things according to our agenda and forget to balance our lives according to Jesus’ agenda. Jesus is waiting for us to eagerly become selfless disciples, and not be distracted by selfish performance.2

What would our agenda look like if Jesus was at the center?  On the other hand, what would our agenda look like if we put ourselves at the center?  Would our priorities be different in each case? All too often, we sacrifice what really matters to pursue things that aren’t as important.

For example, when we become busy the first thing we often cut is our personal time with God.  Think about that – we cut the most important thing first.  From my experience, when we cut our personal devotions, we tend to default to selfishness.  From there, our priorities start to shift.

We shift from pursing God’s agenda to our own agenda.

We shift from growing the Kingdom to spending our money elsewhere.

We shift from committing our families to the local church to protecting family time at all costs.

Don’t get me wrong, family is very important!  But when Jesus is at the center of our lives, His call to put Him before our family begins to make more sense:

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

Of course, “hate” is not referring to “dislike” rather the extreme difference between a selfless disciple and a selfish unbeliever.  We need to stop thinking like unbelievers and start challenging ourselves to become disciples.We need to stop thinking like unbelievers and start challenging ourselves to become disciples. Click To Tweet

I’ll let Paul’s words conclude:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5)

Your turn…

Is Jesus at the center of your life?  Do your daily activities prove it?

I gave our congregation the opportunity to challenge themselves with a little exercise.  I gave them a sheet to list all their activities and to indicate which activities were most important if: 1) Jesus was at the center of their lives; and, 2) if we were at the center. It’s a humbling exercise if done honestly.

You can download the template here: Who’s More Important Worksheet. Maybe it’s a great way for you to take a spiritual inventory of what we spend our money, time and energy doing. I’ve also included a blank version of the above graphic.


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Trump or Clinton?

How does a Christian navigate the 2016 US election?

At this point, I would think many Americans have their minds made up.  In fact, over 24 million Americans have already voted.1  There are “Christian” reasons to vote for either of these candidates. The question remains: who has God chosen to lead America and how will the world react?

trump-clinton

“Christian” Politics

I recently saw a diagram outlining the American characteristics of the left versus right politics.2

leftright_us_1416-1When you start describing the “Christian” view, it’s difficult to stay on one side or the other.  Here are some examples:

  • Christians should be inclusive, and yet protective of established morals.
  • Christians should be loving and build relationships of respect and trust, and yet tough love is often required to build discipline and a strong character.
  • Christians should help those in need to encourage unity and equality, and yet make the most of every opportunity and be great stewards of our resources.
  • Christians should pursue peace, and yet protect those who cannot defend themselves.

The problem in 2016 is that neither of the candidates fit perfectly into the ideal left or right, and neither are “Christian.” Clinton has proven to be untrustworthy, or even unethical at times, and Trump’s tactics are aggressively non-conservative.

My point is this – voting “Christian” is not an option.  American Christians need prayer so they can choose the leader God has already chosen. #Election2016 Click To TweetThe choice is between Clinton, who has few Christian morals but has some Christian polices, and Trump, who holds true to most Christian morals, but has few Christian polices. American Christians need prayer so they can choose the leader God has already chosen (Acts 1:24), not the “Christian” leader, because that’s not an option.

In God we trust…

As the Pledge of Allegiance and the US currency clearly states, the American people put their trust in God.  While many now don’t truly believe this, Christians certainly should because scripture tells us to do so. In the case of political leaders, we know God is completely in control!  Paul wrote:

“…there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1, NIV)

No matter the final outcome on November 8, God is completely in control and there is no need to fear.  American Christians need prayer so they can trust God, and not fear the outcome.

The Canadian Christian Reaction

I’ve watched the Canadian reaction during this election at a bit of a distance.  As a Canadian, I really don’t have much to say, other than pray for fellow believers as they try to navigate through the muddy waters.  If you’re Canadian, this is my advice:

  1. Pray – honestly and earnestly pray for American Christians as they go to the polls to vote. Pray that they hear God’s voice and vote accordingly.  Pray that they don’t fear the outcome, but put their trust in God’s direction. American Christians need prayer so they can trust God, and not fear the outcome. #Election2016 Click To Tweet
  2. Don’t advocate – you’re Canadian, not American. I wouldn’t expect Americans to understand Canadian politics either.  All I know is that the election is far from ideal and both candidates have pros and cons.  As Canadian Christians, should we be advocating one way or other? Probably not.
  3. Publicly state your support – as fellow believers, let American Christians know you support them. Let them know you’re praying for them and the results of the election.  If there’s one good thing about social media – it’s your platform to bring encouragement internationally.
  4. Pray for our government – Trudeau and his government will have to work closely with whoever is elected. Pray for wisdom, so that our leaders don’t lead out of fear.

Your turn…

Are you praying? How do you think Canadians should react to the election?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

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