Honor Up, Down and All Around
I’M CONVINCED THAT GOD IS ALL ABOUT HONOR. THE GOD WE SERVE IS ALL ABOUT UNCENSORED HONOR, ABUNDANT HONOR, AND EXTRAVAGANT HONOR.
A few years ago in Washington D.C., a man quietly took his place up against a metro wall, pulled out his violin, placed his hat on the ground, and began to play. For this day he had chosen six selections from Bach. During his “performance,” several thousand people walked by. Some stopped to listen briefly; some gave sympathy money. On several occasions, little children would stop to listen, but every time they did, the parent would pull them on. Maybe it was just child-like curiosity… maybe, the children sensed something....
The “beggar” on the street that morning was the world renowned Joshua Bell. The instrument that sang in his hands was a violin valued at $3.5 million dollars. Just a couple days earlier, people had packed a Boston theater to hear him, paying an average of $100 per seat. Today, his concert netted a mere 32 bucks, mostly from sympathy. When he finished there was no applause, no standing ovation, nothing to acknowledge the magnificent talent that had just been on display. Then the music stopped, the violin went back into its case, and the master walked away. For nearly an hour, there had been grandeur. But no one noticed it, recognized it, or valued it.
If we had been on the sidewalk, it would have been easy to have flowed with the blindness and naiveté of the crowd. But if someone would have known or found out who was playing the violin that day, it would have naturally elevated awareness. If just one person would have spoken up and shown honor, it would no doubt have served as a tipping point of information. As the word began to spread, it would have been followed by a cascading rush of awareness spilling out on that city sidewalk, resulting in a contagious celebration of honor.
What if that same sidewalk scenario is playing out everyday of our lives? What if the pace of our lives coupled with a naiveté towards greatness is causing us to unknowingly pass by honor-worthy moments every day? On the other hand, what if a new generation of “knowers” and “see-ers” consistently paused on the sidewalks of life to appreciate and celebrate what most don’t yet recognize? What if this generation released a tidal wave of uncensored, uninhibited honor? What if we were able to create a catalyst of unprecedented exchanges of authentic value and recognition?
Unfortunately, there is a lack of awareness, and even a hesitation, when it comes to handing out honor. It definitely doesn’t seem trendy to show honor. Maybe because some people misunderstand its purpose. Maybe because traditional talks about honor didn’t do much besides leave a bittersweet taste in a listener’s ear. What I know for sure is that American pop culture is filled with sarcasm, cynicism, complaining, blaming and criticism. From one TV network to the next, from one rap artist to the next, from one politician to the next—even from Christians—the popular dialogue is laced with innuendos of dishonor. Honor may not be trendy—maybe it’s not in vogue; maybe it’s more popular to be anti-establishment—but it’s time to vote for honor!
We all wake up with the same ability to either take our surroundings for granted or recognize the great, grand, and glorious. Understanding this choice is the beginning to living a life of honor. The reality is that people don’t know what people don’t know. When awareness is raised, it changes the mindset of people.
Let's take a look at a couple of things about honor:
Honor is a Bible word; here are a few examples...
- HONOR your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12).
- Those who HONOR me I will HONOR (1 Samuel 2:3).
- The God of our fathers has put it in the king’s heart to bring HONOR to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem (Ezra 7:27).
- You (God) crowned him (man) with glory and HONOR (Psalm 8:5).
- HONOR the Lord with your wealth (Proverbs 3:9).
- Its is an HONOR for a man to avoid strife (Proverbs 20:3).
- Let marriage be held in HONOR (Hebrews 13:4).
- HONOR everyone! (1 Peter 2:17).
I’m convinced that God is all about honor. The God we serve is all about uncensored honor, abundant honor, and extravagant honor. Probably because He created the world to function in such a way that everything is better with honor...
- Business is better
- Families are better
- Marriages are better
- People serve better
- Neighborhoods are better
- Preachers preach better
- Church is better
- Nations are better
Honor has a way of elevating everything. So, we can’t expect our family or business or relationships to go to the next level unless we take the first step to lead a culture of honor. The truth is, honor begins with us. We all have to make a conscious choice. I hope you will choose to honor. Here are a couple keys that help me to stay on the track of honor that I believe can help you:
1. Honor First
Is your first impulse to think about those who should honor you? Maybe you’re thinking of all the people you wish would read this article, so they could have the epiphany that they haven’t been showing you honor. It is human nature. Common rationale on the downward stairs of dishonor sounds something like, “Well, they don’t honor me; why would I honor them?” or “Why do I need to treat anyone as “special”? They are no better than me.”
It’s true that most people simply exchange honor, which means they give it back to specific others in the measure that specific others give it to them, and usually withhold it from the rest! But there are some strong questions that Jesus asked in the gospel of Matthew: “If you love those who love you... what reward will you get?.. .If you greet only your brothers... what are you doing more than others? Don’t even pagans do that?” (Matthew 5:46).
Most people seek to receive honor before giving honor. But let’s not be most people! Let’s choose not to concentrate on the honor we’re receiving and instead concentrate on the honor you and I are sowing into others. The concept of honoring first is seeing the honor you put out into your world as seeds you are sowing that will create a harvest of honor in your life. Don’t wait to be honored—go out and honor first!
2. Honor with No Strings Attached
When you turn up your awareness on honor, it is easy to fall into the trap of keeping score. In the Bible we see David said to Saul, “As surely as I have honored you… may the Lord honor me” (1 Samuel 26:24, MSG). He’s not assuming honor will come back to him from Saul, but he’s confident it will come back to him.
“Strings-attached honor” is when a person honors someone with his or her own idea of how that person will reciprocate the honor. Maybe it’s the honor he or she show a boss, spouse or friend. An employee could say to herself, “I’m going to try this honor thing out and show honor to my boss. Maybe that will get me the promotion I’ve been waiting for!”
On the other hand, “no strings-attached honor” is to honor without an agenda or motive. It really comes down to managing your own expectations in the honoring process. It’s better to live a life of honor, knowing that it will come back to you one way or another, than to try to dictate where it will come from.
Look at it like this: It’s a mistake to honor with expectations of receiving honor directly back from the people you show honor to. Don’t assume or expect that when you honor a person it will come back from the same person.
I believe that when we honor we are sowing seeds that will return a harvest back into our lives. But most of the time, your harvest of honor may not fit into the nice and neat box that you create in your own imagination. Just like David didn’t expect King Saul to give honor back—let God make up the difference back to you. Allow Him the creativity to hook you up however He wants to!
3. Honor in Agreement and Disagreement
It is so much easier to honor someone when you agree with them. It gets tougher as personalities or opinions begin to clash. However, in order for us to live a life of honor, it’s important for us to honor in agreement and in disagreement. Or another way to say it is to honor outside of agreement. I think this is where God pays exceptional attention and rewards lavishly.
There is a simple example we use often in leadership training about this very topic... When it comes to painting a wall color, we may gather a few people together and get some opinions or feedback. Someone may want a gray wall or an orange wall, or another person may have his heart set on a blue wall. But once the decision is made to paint the wall a certain color, that is the end of personal opinions and feedback. It is important for all the people who had a different color in mind to not broadcast it, or to discuss how much better it would have been strategically for the wall to be beige instead of gray. Instead, we use this simple example to illustrate that once a decision is made by a leader, we all honor the decision, whether it lines up with our individual preferences and opinions or not. You see, there are times to offer input, but once a decision is made it becomes a collective “our” idea instead of “that person’s” or “their idea.”
Can you agree to be in agreement even when you disagree? Yes, you can. It takes effort, and it’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. In Philippians 2:2 it says, “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded... having the same spirit....” There is power in unity! I believe the greatest unity comes out of a heart to honor in and out of agreement.
4. Honor Freely
You may end up giving some undeserved honor when your goal is to honor up, honor down, and honor all around—but that’s not to be feared.
It’s much better to honor freely than to honor with inhibition. If you try to legitimize all the honor you give, you will end up missing many opportunities to honor others.
Being indiscriminate with honor is better because it’s not as much about people deserving honor as it is about us living a life of honor and creating a culture of honor. When you live or work in a culture of honor, you will probably receive more honor than you feel you deserve. If you sometimes feel like that, try to remember that random honor, frequent honor, free-flowing and plentiful honor lifts all our lives and makes all of us better!
There is a realization that is essential to living a life of honor: you choose. We all have the same ability to either take our surroundings for granted or recognize the great, grand, and glorious that is around us each and every day. You choose daily whether or not you will be a carrier and communicator of honor. In other words, you can decide to be the kind of person who realizes that honor is not silent—honor expresses itself. Use your voice to honor people, places, God’s purpose, potential—the list could go on. Next time, instead of starting with negative feedback, find something that is honoring to say first. It’s not about bias honor or doses of honor, but rather it’s about people becoming carriers and communicators of honor. Become an advocate for honor and take it with you wherever you go.
It’s not always trendy, fashionable or easy, but I’m hoping you’re signed up to help bring honor back! I encourage you to push back against the trends and general attitude of people. Be courageous and don’t give in to the critics. Ascend the staircase of honor and bring others with you to places of better relationships and better lives!
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