My grandson asked what people called me at work. My title? Umm. Simple enough, right? It ended up being more challenging to answer than I first thought. Though individuals with similar roles as mine are called by many different titles across the county, my organizational title is General Presbyter. So you’re a general?, he wondered, thinking for a moment that sounded pretty cool. Well, no, not really. Actually, not at all. General, I explained, meant general as opposed to specific. I have responsibilities for the main things, not all the details. As you might imagine, this didn’t help. The more I thought about it, the more inadequate the title seems to be. What I try to do, I offered my increasingly—restless—for—an—answer grandson, is get people in churches to pay attention to their neighbors and work together to make the world a better place. Seemed like such a simple question from a ten year old.
I’m sure somewhere, someone, invested a lot of time coming up with the title, General Presbyter. In most cases, the earlier incarnation of the leader with my responsibilities was referred to as the Executive Presbyter. In our efforts to flatten our organizations, we replaced Executive for a less hierarchal sounding, General. The more I thought about it, the more I found my title to be not only inaccurate as a title, it was inadequate in describing my function. We can do better.
Take a look at how your organization is organized. Do you have an organizational chart? Is it illustrated by lines and aligned boxes, or a circular, interconnected array of shapes with lots of arrows? Since form follows function, answering this model question will give a hint as to the kind of organization you work for. Line and boxes? It’s a divisional organization described by a hierarchy of relationships and responsibilities. On the other hand, if your organization is best depicted with interconnected circles and arrows looping around, it is more likely organized around function.
Does your title describe your position as a noun, or describe your work with a verb? Are you the head of something that is, or the responsible for something that does?
So, are you a noun, or a verb? Do you express your title as your position (noun), or express it as a contribution (verb)?
My grandson may be on to something. I going to think more deeply about my title, and explore verbs I do in my work. Here are my initial ideas. What do you think?
**Mission Catalyst Presbyter** **Convener of Community Conversations** **Disruptive Mission Innovator** **Missional Opportunities Connector**
I’ll keep thinking. Verbs in our work are more important than nouns in our titles. What are you doing today to change the world for the better?