A Title Is Earned. Not Taken!
What Is A Label:
Almost everyone wants to put aspects of life into categories. To give a name or label in order to segregate this group from that group. Most of the time this isn’t done to degrade or persecute people. But rather to make sense of the world around us. Humans like order, to compartmentalized their world into smaller pieces as means to deal with life and all its parts. Spiritual people are no different from anyone else in this regard. People want to be able to call them self something that represents who they are and what they believe, or their standing within their community. Labels are simply a way to do that. It’s not a bad thing and merely a part of the conscious mind trying to organize the vast information they hold in the mind and process within their consciousness.
Not everyone feels the need to take on a label. And that’s ok too. But consider how people use labels every day and in every aspect of life. We organize information on our PCs with folders (labels) to make it easier to find files. We organize papers in file cabinets in order to quickly locate what we’re looking for. We organize the kitchen to know where the glasses are versus the plates and silverware. Everyone uses organization and labels in their daily life, so why wouldn’t we use it to identify the self as well? Even those who don’t like labels use them in various ways that they’ve become accustomed to. We identify ourselves as male or female, child or adult, spiritual or atheist. Labels aren’t always a bad thing. Saying I’m pagan isn’t a whole lot different from saying that section of the kitchen is the glass cabinet. So don’t be too hard on people who use labels. They’re just trying to make sense of their world or they have no issue with being self identified.
For those that do choose this method of identification, the label you chose should feel comfortable to you. To do that, you should learn about the label you chose, what it means and how it relates to your perceptions of your path. There’s a difference between a spiritual healer and a healer. No one else has the right to place a label on you and define who you are. But you must understand what the label is and what it means before you take it on. If someone tells you “I sense that you’re a witch”, that’s nice. But don’t take on the identification just because someone else has a perception of you based on their own perspectives. They could be totally off the mark and you could waste days or years trying to fulfill a label that wasn’t yours to begin with!
What Is A Title:
Titles are a little different from labels. Titles are labels that are earned. Not taken on to be impressive or to create a false sense of importance. So when it comes to saying your an expert, a Shaman, Priest or High Priestess, or any title of authority, make sure you have the right to take on those titles and you’re not misrepresenting yourself to others.
The first step to earning a title is education. Self education is a great way to start, but it must be accompanied with professional training. No matter what the role you’re looking into be it psychic, healer or Minister, you must have the full understanding of those roles to earn the title that goes along with it. Certification in any field of expert practice is essential. You don’t have to acquire a degree, but gaining certification from proven sources is not only important for your professional role, but also for your own understanding, knowledge and experience.
There are many Hierarchical titles to consider on a spiritual path and each religion will have its own specific titles. Additionally religious denominations or traditions might also implement a variation of these titles to represent different levels or roles within their organization. Even in Christianity there’s a difference between a Deacon and a Priest. So too in Pagan Metaphysics, there’s a difference between a Sage and a Shaman.
Titles are used to represent different responsibilities AND authorities. But they’re also used for accountability as well. Many people don’t take that into consideration when they put their name on a shingle and hang it out for business. The moment you take on a title you are representing yourself as an expert. Whither that title is healer, psychic or some form of spiritual leader, you are announcing to the world that you are not only knowledgeable in your field, but that you also have the experience and authority of that title. If this isn’t true, be careful what you claim to be! This is equally as important in spiritual professions as it is in any other profession. Being a Metaphysical or Pagan ‘Minister’ cannot be claimed without acquiring the proper authoritative certification and licensure as any mainstream religion. There are many schools and professional certification organizations that can provide this type of education and sanctioning. Take time to search for one in your area, or one that offers online programs.
In my years of study and research I have met many who want to be seen as leaders or experts for their beliefs. Whither its young adults wanting to be the Priestess of their own little coven, or adults who want to be seen in their community as being more than they are. People often look outside themselves for some type of validation and sadly, some do it through trying to be more than they have a right to be in a spiritual capacity.
Regardless of what your desired role is, you will be seen as a teacher and guide. No matter what the path, if you claim to be a “Spiritual” anything, be it a spiritual healer, psychic or teacher, people will look to you for guidance and understanding. This applies the role of “expert” onto your shoulders, even if you don’t want it. It’s important therefore to be totally up front and honest with those who seek your services about what your role and level of experience is. A Spiritual profession of any type is an awesome responsibility and you will be accountable for what you say and do the moment you hang up that shingle. Thus it is extremely important to consider the personal consequences of this action, especially on the path of spirituality.
Start by asking yourself: are you ready, do you have the knowledge and wisdom to be a spiritual expert and fully represent yourself as such to people who are coming to you to learn or seek guidance? Consider the karma you WILL attain by misrepresentation. But also consider the legal ramifications and worse case scenarios, because they DO happen! It’s important to consider all aspects of what is involved in taking on a title, especially if you haven’t earned it. But it’s also important to take those same considerations into account when you have earned the title and are ready to put it into practice. You can minimize all this by being honest about your level of expertise and your professional credentials or certifications.
Taking on a spiritual title is more than just knowing a few basic concepts of belief or spending the time to learn a lot about those spiritual perspectives. This is true no matter what the title, be it healer or Minister. Having a small amount of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. But it can also be treacherous for those who have taken the time to acquire a good education within their chosen path. People will not differentiate between someone who is just learning versus someone who has just acquired a degree or someone who has years of experience under their belt. If they ask you for guidance and you provide it they will take it in and could use it to make major changes in their life simply because of what you said. That is an awesome responsibility! Yes they are accountable for their choices, but you are too. And when you choose to take on a title without earning it, you take on a great deal of karma on your own even before someone steps through your door. Experience does count for something and will provide additional understanding behind the dynamics of your chosen field.
As an example, someone who has not worked within a spiritual organization as an apprentice doesn’t necessarily know what it takes to run a gathering. That experience of working with experienced professionals is part of the process to learning the wisdom of an expert practitioner and especially as a spiritual leader. How to deal with the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, conflicts, attachments and professionalism are part of the process to becoming an expert. It’s not only the processes of organization that are required. More than just knowledge of the field you have chosen is needed.
Wisdom is learned through experience, not a book. As a teacher, do you now how to plan for a class? Do you have the understanding and wisdom to teach the topic you are offering? You will need to know how to create training material, and class schedules. How to develop a lesson plan or a curriculum for advancement within your organization. You can’t just find a book and hold a class about what’s within its covers. Firstly because there will be someone in the class who may know a lot more than you. If they ask you a question outside the purview of that book, you better know the answer. Or have a good idea about what their asking and can provide your perspective to the topic. It’s ok for a teacher to say “I’m not familiar with that” or “I don’t know”. But if you say this on basic topics, or more than you can provide answers to class questions; you’re not ready to teach.
On top of the knowledge earned, is the wisdom to know when and how to share it. How to help those who come to you without interference in their path of learning. You can’t learn for others. A teacher doesn’t teach until a student is ready to ask a question, is my personal motto. Because until they can ask, the student may not be ready to learn. Forcing them down a path they are not ready for is a kin to interference, and could do more harm than good. Even if your intention is to help, ease pain or to provide proper guidance. It’s not your choice and not the wisdom of leadership. Everyone is in the right place, for their current progression toward enlightenment. Don’t push people who are not ready to be guided. But know when to apply tough love or brutal honesty when needed. It’s a fine line that is learned through experience and wisdom.
Understanding your level expertise and being honest about it, not only with yourself but those who seek your services is key to progressing toward that label as expert. You don’t have to be an expert to hang out a shingle. But you do need to be honest with about what that level of experience is. Have you been a tarot reader for a month and now think you are ready to teach? Each person is different, but a month, or even a year of study and practice, may not be enough. How can you teach others to focus if you have not mastered the ability yourself? How can you guide others to raise their consciousness and walk with their Divine Higher Self, if you don’t do this on a daily basis yourself?
In addition to the teaching, you will be taking on the role of spiritual adviser. Whither you want this responsibility or not, it will come across your path. Do you have the knowledge and more importantly the wisdom to take on this very important responsibility? You will take on the role as a spiritual counselor, do you have the understanding of psychology to be responsible for your answers? If not, then simply be honest with your clients/students. It’s ok to say I’m not a therapist and guide them to a professional who is. Better than, than give them advice that may cause them to do harm to themselves or others. There are organizations around the country who offer counseling training for ministers. I highly recommend them if you are sure this is the path you want to take. So it’s important to know your limitations!
No matter how well-trained or experienced you are, there is going to be criticism about what you do and how you organize your professional role. Do you have the iron will and self-confidence to overcome these criticisms? Can you listen to what others say and take the constructive ideas and implement them? Can you withstand the harsh attacks that come from no where and understand these situations may not really be about you or what you have done? If you have a sensitive spirit, or are hurt easily by what others say; you’re not ready to take on the role as an expert.
Everyone has self-doubt. No matter how well you know something, or how much experience you have at doing the job, everyone has moments in their life of insecurity. As a spiritual expert you have to be able to over come these times in your life. You have to have a self-confidence that can carry you through and allows you to tap into that Divine creative spark within yourself to continue moving forward. If you can do this, you will be successful.
Roles & Responsibilities:
There are many titles within any spiritual path. Deacon versus Sage, Minister verses Priest or Priestess. There are also a variation in roles and responsibilities within spiritual structures as well. A person who has not attained an authoritative certification as a minister or priest/priestess cannot gain authorization from their local government to marry people. There are also legal considerations for those who want to hang out a shingle as Spiritual Psychologist or Therapist. Providing counseling to others in any capacity, even a psychic can have serious legal ramifications. So take the time to research any potential requirements in your area.
Even if you have earned a title, consider how you represent your role in the public. The following is a simple hierarchy of roles that might help you apply your expert title in its proper framework. Even if you don’t take on these specific roles/titles they may give you an idea of how to apply similar functions to your expert practice.
A person who is in the process of learning to be an expert. Gaining knowledge through study and experience through practice.
Junior Initiate/Apprentice –
A person who has acquired a degree or certification, as well as proven a level of understanding through practice and is now applying this knowledge and experience in a professional role under the guidance of a proven expert. There are many respected spiritual organizations around the world where you can find others willing to take you on under their belt and help guide your professional path. Some may take you in and put you to work. Others may simply be there for you to answer questions or give you feedback. Talk to someone who is actually working in the field you have chosen and see if they’ll take you on as a volunteer or in a part-time capacity where you can see the inner workings of the profession. But be sure the person you’re talking to has the credentials to back up their own titles and claims.
Senior Apprentice/Intern –
A person who has acquired a degree or certification, as well as proven their expertise under guidance and can now apply that experience without guidance.
A person who has completed the training of a specific field of study and has demonstrated their ability to teach and lead with wisdom. Most of the time the title of “expert” is given to a person by others in their own field when they have proven through word and action that they have attained this status. If other professionals in their field seek their counsel or refer to their work as good authoritative sources then they have acquired the level of expert.
What Is A Spiritual Expert? – Part III – Leadership, Guidance & Discernment
© 2012 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D., Springwolf Reflections / Spring’s Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.