Should Pastors Display Their Degrees?

Despite the way I have titled this post, I am not sure there is a pure should or shouldn’t that fits every case. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Does your pastor display their degrees, ordination diploma and other achievements in their office? It may or not surprise you to know that pastors disagree over whether this appropriate.

Some think that it is just showing off. Even if it is from pure motives, it still drives a wedge between the pastor and many church members who are not as educated. They would prefer to hang almost anything else on the walls than their degrees.

I will admit that my degrees and other awards are hanging in my home office. Since the only ones that come into my office are my family and my pets, I can’t be accused of showing off. I couldn’t fool them anyway.

But in my last two church offices, I did hang them. I was not trying to impress or intimidate anyone. People who meet me know that is not what I am about. I hang them for a number of reasons. One is that it is an encouragement to me. I have down days as much as anyone and sometimes it is good to be reminded of what can be accomplished when you stick with something. They also motivate me to learn more and to continue in education, even if not in a formal setting.

But there is something else. I have had to sit in a number of doctor’s offices over the years. One of the first things I look for is the degrees. When I am feeling unsure about my health, it is nice to see that the doctor seems to have the training to help.

Pastors study hard to do their ministry. It may be reassuring for church members to know that there is something behind what they say and they did not just download their ordination from the internet.

I am not arguing that every pastor should hang their degrees. But I am suggesting that pastors who do should not feel guilty. Check your motives and be sensitive to your context. If it becomes a stumbling block, by all means take them down. This is something that we all need to follow our own conscience on.

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