A generally known truth about life is that what happens in your home, workplace, school, church, and community is to some extent a reflection of what’s going on in the culture. And when it comes to honor, whether you’re a person of faith, some faith, or no faith - how we understand and give honor to others is changing rapidly.
Heading into Veterans Day Weekend, there are 3 realities worth noting, especially for those who want to honor people the way Jesus did.
First, the bad news. Then, some encouragement.
People choose to dishonor others for a variety of reasons. The bad news is that oftentimes dishonor is personal.
Personal Reason #1: Human beings get jealous.
It’s normal for us to want achievements, success, and recognition. When others receive the spotlight for the same, similar, or perception of “less than our performance”, we get jealous. And, to boost our sense of self, validate our work, or perhaps passively say, “What about me”, jealousy sometimes is expressed as dishonor. Whether it’s a promotion at work, a report card in the classroom, or the feelings that money, benefits and perks, and financial compensation bring - dishonorable behavior lives in the tension between our sense of being enough and wanting what other people have received.
Personal Reason #2: Human beings have an internal drive for power and control.
Dishonorable behavior can sometimes look like manipulation or deception to maintain dominance over others. A good analogy is that we can remain in personal control and exude power over others by handcuffing them with our dishonorable words, attitudes, or behaviors. We see this all over the political arena. The only way out of the handcuffs is by using the keys of affirmation and encouragement.
Personal Reason #3: Bias and prejudice are part of human nature.
Unconscious bias has recently become a buzzword, especially in light of racial tension in the Western world. And while the term can be weaponized, every human being has indeed known and unknown attitudes and opinions shaped by one’s knowledge, environment, and life experience. Oftentimes expressed in the arenas of race, religion, and gender, every kind of stereotype contributes to dishonorable behavior. The ongoing war/genocide in the Middle East is a front-and-center example of what this looks like on a global scale. If I look at the times I have dishonored others, many times it is a reflection of my internal fear combined with my insecurities or assumed beliefs.
That’s human nature.
The bottom line is that dishonor is rooted in the sin-part of our human nature. As early as the late 300s, Augustine of Hippo said that dishonorable behavior is “man curved in on himself” and simply called it an expression of pride. Then, in the early 1900s, Karl Barth expanded this understanding beyond pride describing sin as human attempts to become our own authority or god.
What does this all mean?
As dishonorable as humans can be, we still have a sense that honor is a good thing.
For example, this weekend is Veterans Day. Small towns and large cities will celebrate with parades, ceremonies, award programs, luncheons and dinners, and rousing anthems to honor military personnel who continue to live and serve among us as civilians. No doubt, there would be a public uprising should someone be dishonorable during one of those events. So, deep inside, there is a desire to honor others… we just don’t always get it right.
More than ever, Jesus followers can lead the way when it comes to cultivating honor in our homes, workplaces, schools, churches, and communities. Jesus has already planted the seeds… we get to join Him in His work.
Some Final Thoughts
Honor is a good Bible-word, isn’t it?
Honor will look different for each person. And at the same time, if you want to know what honor looks like, look at Jesus.
I encourage you to talk to someone about what this looks like for you. It could be a family member, a coworker, a pastor, a neighbor or friend. It really doesn’t matter who because I believe we all want to honor people… we just don’t always get it right.
And if you’re looking for a quick win this weekend, you can say “thank you” to somebody.
Unspoken thanks can be assumed as un-thankfulness. And while we know what assumptions do, saying “thank you” can cultivate a culture of honor with your parents, kids, teachers, authorities, leaders, and your neighbor who always throws his leaves onto your side of the fence.
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.