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The Collar

Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ.”
– The First Epistle to the Corinthians 7:22 (ESV)

I ran across an interesting article by a pastor who advocated the return to wearing a minister’s uniform (e.g., a collar) for those in ministry. It was well-written and thought through; his argument was essentially that wearing the collar helped him better perform ministry in the community as people who wouldn’t initially recognize him as a pastor would now do so. I didn’t agree with everything he said but it got me thinking, “Would I consider wearing a collared shirt…at the bookstore I frequent, the same with the coffee shop and all the other places in between?”

My resulting feelings brought me a little consternation. I shied away from the thought of wearing a minister’s collar. It made me uneasy and that troubled me. It’s not that I think every minister should wear a uniform (I don’t wear one), it’s just that the why behind my decline didn’t smell the fragrance of Christ. I think I would be hesitant to wear a collar because it might infringe on the freedoms I enjoy in public. The movies I see, the books I read, the places I visit and all others things I do in front of others now comes with the “please look at me and know that I’m a Christian minister” tag once I don the white tab.

I don’t like my answer. It has the foul odor of independence and autonomy. Two things that speak more of my being an American than a follower of Jesus, two things that keep me far from the life Jesus offers, and two things I (supposedly) gave up when I decided to become a “slave to Christ”. But being a “slave” doesn’t get much mileage in this culture, and I’m afraid with the state of the Western church it doesn’t go much further within her walls as well where a growing number of pastors fancy themselves more celebrity than shepherd. It seems ironic to me how the white tab ministers wear is to symbolize the iron collar of a slave, for he is a bondslave to Jesus. And yet it may be for that very reason that I think twice.

This really is for a larger discussion because I believe all who name the Name of Christ are ministers. In other words, all wear the collar in one sense. All are servants to Jesus. So how do you feel about walking around with a tab around your neck? The why behind your answer may tell you more than you thought it would.

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

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