Words are important: Often times, the words we use reveal much about what we believe. For example, when a person calls the book of Revelation “Revelations,” I cringe. The reason is that adding the “s,” though it seems small, implies that we believe there are multiple revelations in the book of Revelation. Without the “s,” the book’s title implies that there is but one revelation in the book: Jesus Christ. Adding the “s” may be unintentional, or it could reveal how we plan to interpret the book.
Similarly, words have a way of shaping our thoughts. As Christians, we believe that God exists as three divine persons. Consequently, when I hear someone use the impersonal pronoun “it” to refer to the Holy Spirit, I cringe. The reason is that we believe that all three persons of the Trinity are persons; that is, they are personal. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is personal: He is personal. If you have a hard time understanding the Doctrine of the Trinity, one way to help is to make sure you’re using the correct language.
When you think of the place your pastor works, what word do you use? Does your pastor have an office or a study? You may not immediately see the significance, but, again, words are important because they reveal what we already think about things while shaping what we will think in the future. In this case, the word we choose reveals our beliefs about the pastor’s job.
What kind of images does the word “office” conjure? When I think of an office, I think of paperwork, I think of people sitting in cubicles working on desktop computers, and I think of a 9-5 job. Obviously, that’s not applicable to every office situation, but I think it’s fairly stereotypical. In a broad stroke, then, offices are the places in which a business is run.
What kind of images does the word “study” conjure? Some of you will doubtlessly harken back to college or high school and cringe; however, I don’t mean study as a verb, I mean study as a noun. When I think of a study, I think of books—lots of books, I think of the action of studying, and I think of a person sitting behind a desk performing laborious mental tasks that may seem impractical to others. Once again, this isn’t necessarily applicable to every study; however, it’s fairly stereotypical. In a single sentence, studies are the places in which a person does research on a given topic.
Here’s the question: Though neither is perfect, which better fits the job of the local church’s pastor? When your pastor is in his office/study, is he running a small business, or is he doing in-depth research? What should he be doing there? Is he pushing paperwork, or is he stretching his mind? Should we say that the pastor has an office, or that the pastor has a study?