Since I have earned the right to be called "Dr." in the academic world, I'm hoping that my ideas on this subject won't be considered sour grapes.

Titles and labels are probably a type of new property. They are intangible but belong to people as do things they own or have control over. They establish barriers and rankings amongst people, much as tangible property does.

Those that have them are considered somehow superior over the rest of us. Using titles or labels such as "President" or "CEO," for example, bring with it a certain distinction.

But, keep in mind these are secular distinctions.

. . .God is no respecter of persons. (See Acts 10:34)
None of these titles or labels last. None of them have any meaning in the next world. They don't actually indicate any superiority in this one other than what our culture and society give them. In the end, they just taste sour and leave a bad aftertaste.

I thought long and hard concerning whether to require my students to refer to me as "Dr." I knew it was unrighteous to consider it a power thing. What I decided was that I would answer to "Dr. or "Professor," "Ms." or "Miss" to my undergraduate students. Most undergraduates don't seem to feel comfortable using a professor's first name. Since many of my graduate students were working professionals I told them they were welcome to use my first name if they wished.

The stories I heard about professors forcing people to use their title offended me. I thought, "Students know I"m the professor. I don't have to beat them over the head with it."

What is particularly offensive is when these academic and other secular titles get used in the Church environment. I've actually heard people refer to someone as Dr. in Sunday School. I think there are very good reasons why we are all "Brother" or "Sister" in Church.  It reinforces our equal status as children of God.

Leadership titles in the Church are temporary. The titles belong to the calling, not the person. When you no longer have the calling you no longer have the title. There is no actual distinction accruing to you as an individual as a result of the calling, just responsibility and accountability.

Having a particular calling does not suggest what your level of righteousness is. Jesus chose Judas Iscariot as one of his Apostles. Saul, David and Solomon all went bad. They all had so-called high-level callings.

We have been told that callings are just opportunities to serve, not a barometer of righteousness. Unfortunately, this has not always been properly reinforced. Sometimes introductions include the so-called important callings someone has served in like a Bishop, Branch President, Relief Society President, High Council Member, etc. You don't find someone proudly claiming they were a Nursery Leader or Sacrament Bulletin Coordinator do you?

In the past, these Church callings were identified in Church magazine articles when someone authored something. This practice has gradually fallen off. The practice should fall off everywhere.

Current leaders should be acknowledged for the calling they hold. We should know who they are so that we know who holds the keys of authority.

But, titles and labels should not be dangled in people's faces or used for personal aggrandizement.

Some people collect titles and labels while others collect things. There is no real difference between them.

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