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Is There Ego Inflation in The Trend to Executive Titles Among UK Anglican Evangelicals?

Is There Ego Inflation in The Trend to Executive Titles Among UK Anglican Evangelicals?

By Julian Mann
Special to Virtueonline
July 21, 2018

What spiritual lessons should be learned from the present trend in UK Anglican evangelical circles to appoint 'directors' in their para-church organisations and societies and increasingly in their larger churches?

Church Society, a patronage organisation and think tank in the Church of England, which recently amalgamated with the Anglican evangelical network, Reform, is currently advertising for an 'associate director' to join the Revd Dr Lee Gatiss. He is based in the ancient varsity city of Cambridge and has been 'director' since 2012. Up until 2011, the Church Society had a 'secretary', the Revd David Phillips, based in Watford, a town on the northern outskirts of London boasting a football club that used to be owned by Sir Elton John. Reform appointed its first 'director' in 2013.

Do evangelicals think that an executive-style title opens more doors for positive godly influence in the wider institutional Church and in the secular world? Or is the trend ego-driven by a sense that 'director' carries more careerist kudos than 'secretary'? Or is it a bit of both?

I had better declare an interest in relation to the Church Society 'associate director' role. Having been encouraged to apply by a Reform contact, I did send in a Curriculum Vitae (which as is the tendency with CVs conveniently omitted to mention my manifold ministerial blunders over the past 22 years). But I decided not to pursue the role for various reasons, one of which is the fact that I am not 'director' material, even if I were playing Robin/Tonto 'associate director' to somebody else's Batman/Lone Ranger 'director'. I might be tempted by the role of 'membership secretary' in a Reformed evangelical para-church organisation. But that would not of course guarantee that I would be immune from the ego-tripping tendency.

Given fallen human nature, it is possible for a humble man to have a proud title and for a proud man to have a humble title. Power maniac and mass killer Joseph Stalin was 'General Secretary' of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union until his dying day.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing as he did the reality of human sinfulness, did warn his disciples against worldly ego-tripping: 'You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you' (Mark 10-42b-43a - RSV).

Might it therefore be something of a safeguard against ego inflation for Anglican evangelicals to be 'secretaries' rather than 'directors'?

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK - http://www.oughtibridgechurch.org.uk/our_prayers.html

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