Seeing that this is my third published book, do you think I now qualify to introduce myself as “Author Afrika Mhlophe”? Or, better still, how about the superlative “Major Author”? Somehow I don’t think anyone would be impressed with such self-aggrandizement. Besides, my vocation as a writer is a separate issue from my identity. And the same is true of my roles as a pastor and public speaker. I never mention these roles except when someone prompts me by asking the question, “What do you do?”
The operative word in this question is do. The word refers to that which a person carries out or performs. In my case, I do write for various publications, I do lead a church and I do speak on various platforms. But—and this is a very important “but”—I am not a performer but a person. I am also not a position or a role. For instance, you might refer to South African Olympic gold medalist Wade van Niekerk as an athlete—in acknowledgement of what he does. But you will be conscious that Van Niekerk is a human being and not a human doing.
My involvement in ministry now spans 20 years, but I am always at loss for words when I meet ministers who insist on introducing themselves with their ecclesiastical “titles”. I sometimes wish to blurt out and say, “But ‘apostle’ is not your first name.” There are two things that are wrong with this obsession with titles.
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