In the year 2000, when I was processing the call to fulltime ministry and considering the options in various theological institutions, my pastor asked me, “Are you seeking ordination?” Another brother, from whom I was seeking godly counsel, also posed the same question. At that point in time, I had no idea what ordination was or what it would entail! All I knew was that my heart was set on serving God and it didn’t matter how I got there at all – I just wanted to answer the call and be an obedient servant to Jesus Christ my Lord.
When I finally stepped out on 1 Jan 2004, I joined Bro Francis at Covenant Vision Centre. Since everyone was “brother” and “sister” there, I automatically became known as Bro Henson. It was nice and casual, with a ring of family (although it did give some the wrong impression that I belonged to a Catholic outfit, further confirmed by the number of children we have). When Covenant Vision Christian Church was birthed, I was commissioned as Pastor on 18 Oct 2008. Overnight, I became known as Pastor Henson. One year later, in less than a week’s time, I will be ordained at CVCC’s 1st Anniversary Service, after which I will be known as the Reverend Henson Lim … eeeks! Who would have thought? Never in my wildest dreams have I imagined that I would be a Reverend one day.
And since that is going to a reality very soon, I thought it might be a good idea for me to finally find out what ordination is and what this title means! So I got on the web and googled “ordination” and this is what I found … ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies.
The words “consecrated” and “set apart” caught my eye. I knew these words well, having challenged many through my preaching and teaching. These are translated from the root word … HOLY. So, to be ordained is to be made holy, or the one who is ordained is to be holy. 1 Peter 1:16 says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” Now, more than ever, I am to be even more set apart to God, and from the world, to serve Him and His people. I am reminded to be holy … positionally, morally and functionally. Ordination is the setting apart of one for the use and glory of the One who has called him to such a task.
I guess this refers to each and everyone in Christ, just that for those counted as amongst clergy, it is a formal process that comes with a formal title … Reverend.
This word “reverend” is found only once in the King James Version. Psalm 111:9 reads, “He sent redemption to His people: He hath commanded His covenant forever; holy and reverend is His name.” It struck me that both words “holy” and “reverend” were used to describe God’s name! “Reverend”, literally means “to be afraid” or “to be in fear”. Not surprising really, for we are all called to have the fear of the Lord, to honour Him, to revere Him, to be in awe of Him. Other versions translate it as “awesome”.
Checking the etymology of the word, I found that it came from the Latin “reverendus”, which means, “he who is respected” or “one who is worthy of respect”. Put another way, an ordained minister of the church is to be revered and regarded with awe. That sounds good, but we all know that respect cannot be forced but earned. People may respect the office that I am in and the title that I hold, but will they respect the person that I am?
Wow, this is heavy stuff! This discovery is a revelation to me; but the weight of the significance is overwhelming!!! Some may see it as a promotion, not dissimilar to those in the corporate world where one is elevated to a higher position with a corresponding title. I am convinced otherwise though. To me, this is a new call to humility and a greater emptying of self. That is what true ministry is, as defined and exemplified by the Lord Jesus Himself (Phil 2:5-11). As if that is not challenging enough, it is also a call (and warning) to embrace trials and tribulations in the face of opposition, persecutions, offences and expectations for the sake of the Master and the Gospel – some from the world, and some from within the church too. And yet, this should come as no surprise for “a servant is not greater than his master.” John 15:20
on 1 Nov, I will be ordained, set apart, and will carry the title of Reverend. By God’s grace and His enablement, may I live up to the call and expectation of His name, for I share in the words of Psalm 111:9, “holy and reverend is His name.”