On Roles and Respect, Part 4

One of the problems we see with disdain for titles is the dread of the dated. Anything that appears to reflect the ethics of Mayberry or Casablanca receives the stamp of disapproval from an “enlightened culture.” The same applies to professional titles in our day. We have lost the common courtesy due to those who play important roles in our communities.

A recent article in the Huffington Post expresses this disdain for hierarchical categories when the writer says that authority titles serve to create a “culture of hate” since it places one person over the other. But to the contrary, using titles for doctors, pastors and leaders in the community serve to identify their roles and recognize their callings and place in their communities.

Three simple rules (by no means exhaustive):

First, when attending formal environments where distinctions exist for the sake of order, always refer to those who have active roles by using their titles (Pastor Schneider or Dr. Carter). When in doubt, ask your leaders how they would like to be addressed.
Second, children must always address leaders by their last name (Mr. Adams or Mrs. Smith). In addressing family members, there is more flexibility (Aunt Suzy).
Finally, remember that addressing professionals by their titles provide an environment of mutual respect.

Some professionals may discourage you from using such titles due to their own tendency towards informality. In these cases, I’d encourage one to insist on these habits and explain to these individuals why addressing a professional by using appropriate titles builds honor into a culture where honor is no longer virtuous.

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