By Tommy Rush
Recently one of the preschoolers in our church asked his grandfather, “Why does everyone call our preacher, Brother Tommy?” His Poppa texted me the next morning and asked if I could give any insight to help with an answer. The only thing I know is that, “brothers and sisters” seemed to be a standard way the early Christians described each other. It’s found over 250 times in the New Testament and nobody seemed to use it more than the Apostle Paul. In his letter to the Romans, Paul used “brother” 18 times. It was Paul’s standard way of describing fellow Christians.
My friend’s text message reminded me of all the different ways people have referred to me over the years. Some people have called me “preacher,” while others only use the term “pastor.” Several years ago, when I was new to the church, an elderly lady asked, “Since you don’t have a doctorate degree, what should I call you?” Yes, I got the jests of her question. I told her it would be perfectly fine to just call me by my first name or if she preferred, “Brother Tommy.” I don’t think she liked my answer because she immediately informed me that she had never referred to a minister as a “brother.” She then said, “I will call you Reverend Rush.” I probably did not make things better when I jokingly said,“You can call me whatever you prefer, just don’t forget to call me for dinner!”
The more I think about it, the more I really like the title,“Brother.” It’s easy to see that it was one of Paul’s favorite titles as well. I love people who think of their church as a family of faith. A theologian named William Barclay once wrote: “The Christian church is not a collection of acquaintances; it is not even a gathering of friends; it is a family in God.” In our world today that statement might sound strange, but I believe it’s an awesome blessing when God’s people remember and prioritize that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and we have a Heavenly Father that we exist to glorify.
To be honest, I’ve been called a lot of different things in my 38 years of ministry. Some I can repeat and a few I would do well to forget. However none I will treasure more or consider a greater blessing than when a preschooler calls me, “Brother Tommy!”
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