Image is from Bethel Church, Ottawa, Ontario.
My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA. I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.
During our last article, we journeyed through growing in God in the midst of windstorms. There is evil in the world, and sometimes that really feels like a damaging firestorm that brings pain, loss, and more. Jesus warned us that the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy. But he gives abundant life. He is our windbreaker to combat evil through the armour of God. The Holy Spirit is also like a true Cape Doctor, in bringing healing, hope, comfort, truth and refining. Allow yourself to set your face on God, and he’ll bring that sweet wind to lift you up and give you strength for your journey. If the Holy Spirit is the holy wind, we are the sail.
Grace is something that is very prevalent in our faith as we choose to trust God and follow where he leads us. God is faithful and shows this in many ways. We can even see this faithfulness reflected in others. Sometimes God’s characteristics like love and faithfulness can be understood as a language that people can understand without words. A wonderful way to see God’s language reflected in you is through developing a culture of honour. The military have a sense of honour that manifests as a code of conduct. It shows as valour, chivalry, honesty and compassion. These are good traits. Honour sometimes is understood how one may look in the eyes of other people – in a positive way, people can see the goodness and compassion inside a person and call them “honourable.” In a negative way, this may be a mask hiding what really is inside, or perhaps honour could be construed as “face.” Face is very important in Chinese cultures, as honour of purity is important in Middle Eastern culture. But true honour is even deeper than that.
Honour is relational. In the West, it’s not popular to speak well of people until after they die. You could work for years in a company or NGO and find that many people don’t bother saying nice things about you. It’s simply assumed that you know that you are well liked. Yet if you make a mistake, complaints are issued quickly. We certainly find this attitude online on Facebook and Twitter. However, when someone dies, people like to share wonderful stories about how you touched their lives in a positive way. Eulogies and telling stories of people who have blessed you is a good thing! However, you need not wait until a person dies to say good things about them. These people really need to hear this when it really matters to them! The first time I learned about honour as an expression of blessing, was through two Canadians in ministry: Patricia King, and Faytene Grassechi.
Faytene has a heart for change through social justice, prayer and encouragement. One of the ministries that she developed visits and prays for different people in the Canadian government. They include young leaders who honour and serving these Canadian politicians. They basically represent the voice of Christian youth to Canadian parliament. They don’t put down the leaders. But rather, they encourage them for what they are doing well. They honour them and listen to them. These leaders are blessed by the encouragement. They feel that they have been honoured, not criticized. Faytene was encouraged to have honour as an important component to her ministry, as taught by her mentor Patricia King, who is also Canadian. I was a supporter of Patricia for over ten years, while I was able. Patricia is a generous, kind and honour-bearing person. She never speaks badly of any who speak badly of her. She chooses to bless her opponents and to honour them. This goes beyond forgiveness. It’s a lifestyle of choosing to bless and note all the good things her opponent is doing.
Patricia notes that to honour is to hold someone is respect or esteem. She says that it’s “interesting that the word Hebrew word “kabod,”or glory, means ‘weight.’ This word is often used in scripture to give honour. It is an interchangeable word for honour, although it also shows splendour, glory and dignity. It’s really interesting that honour is so tied in with the glory of God and the weight of his presence. God loves honour and he hates dishonour.” Patricia has seen over the years, that when there is an individual of honour, (who exercises honour intentionally), doors fly open for them. Promotion comes from the Lord to them, and blessing comes on their lives. Patricia has also seen the exact opposite when a person is given to dishonour. When there is dishonour in their lives, they dishonour leaders, and they dishonour their parents, the exact opposite happens. It’s like a curse comes over their lives. The doors are closed. She has even seen people with tremendous anointing and ministry callings; but because they are people of such dishonour, their spiritual gifts NEVER break open. They never get established, yet they’ve got so many gifts to release out to people. One of the biggest secrets to advancement is to honour others. It’s tied in with humility. Tony Morgan notes that “if you want to receive honour, you have to give honour. If you want to experience honour, you have to embrace humility.”
So honour promotes and dishonour demotes. Honour blesses and dishonour curses. Honour builds strong relationships, dishonour destroys relationships. Honour is pleasant, dishonour is unpleasant.
Rob Packer teaches about honour in his excellent book, The Life Giving Power of Honour. He says that “Honour is the recognition of a person’s value and the expression appropriate to that value.” When you are honoured and recognized for who you are, you are valued. You are also released to BE who you are. When you honour others, you release them to be who they are to you. They feel safe to be who they are. Dishonour is just the opposite. It shuts down the relationship between you and the other person. You can’t receive what they have to give you, since they aren’t allowed to do so. It was the same when Jesus wasn’t given honour in his hometown. He wasn’t allowed to love on his town and people, except in a very limited way. No wonder he couldn’t do any more than a few healings in Nazareth!
Tony and I are involved with the Iris Global movement as Iris Ministries Canada missionaries. This movement’s slogan says, “love looks like something.” And so it does. Love is active. Love and honour easily work together; in fact, if you love someone, there must be honour involved. Our Mama Heidi was shown the importance of honour when she had a problem. She prayed over bush outreach struggles that were happening in northern Mozambique. There was resistance. People threw stones, and Heidi was tired of it. She knew something was missing, so she asked God what it was. Then the Holy Spirit revealed to her that she needed to meet the village leaders, and to honour them. She was instructed to do something different. Before this, she ignored the leaders, and set up competing movies and evangelism that were louder than their own meetings. Now, she was directed to meet these leaders. She needed to get to know them and to honour them.
She brought the international Harvest School students who were with her, and asked them to bow before the leaders, and introduce themselves to each leader. The leaders were now in a relationship with Heidi. They felt ready to welcome and invite the students to their villages. Gifts were given to the leaders. Concerns were genuinely addressed. Since that time, all Harvest School students go into the bush with Heidi or other senior leaders. This is a special time of publicly honouring the village leaders. The blessing goes both ways. It really does.
Tony and I experienced this honour ceremony in Linde, Mozambique. We shook hands with the leaders. They were genuinely happy to see us. We experienced a welcome that was truly heart-felt. Honour truly IS the language of the God’s kingdom. It opens doors. It blesses hearts. The Bible has much to say about honour. Let’s start the honour countdown with eight examples of honour!
Number one: It all starts with honouring God. Rev. 5:12 gives us a picture of honour in heaven, when all there sing in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honor and glory and blessing.” Patricia King reminds us that “God is to be honoured, and not just on Sunday mornings! And not just in our songs, but in everything that we do.” This means that we would give him honour in and through our lives.
Number two: Honour your parents. Exodus 20 says to honour your father and mother. It’s the first commandment with a promise. When you honour your folks, “you will live a long and full life in the land.” Another version says that your days may be prolonged. Jesus even quoted this commandment in Matt 15: 4.
God is very clear about honouring father and mother. Some of us may have had fathers and mothers that perhaps in your mind don’t deserve to be honoured. But this commandment is clear despite how imperfect our parents are. Patricia King says that “when you position yourself in honour, it positions you for blessing. You will live long in the land that the Lord gives you, which is his kingdom. It’s his promises, the land of his goodness, the land of his abundant life. So when you honour your parents, it positions you in the blessing of the Lord.”
In the case of where parents have abused you, this honour is not about their wrong deeds and harm they have done. You need to forgive them for that. But you can’t empower evil. In this case, as a step, at least don’t dishonour them. It’s not about what they deserve, but rather, to honour that they are your parents. My mother used to tell me, “Laurie-Ann, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” So sometimes it’s better not to say anything. Sometimes honouring a parent is simply to not dishonour them.
Here’s a Biblical example of not honouring a parent. We know that in the case of Noah, he had one son who uncovered his nakedness. Ham and his son Canaan were cursed. Why? Ham uncovered his father’s nakedness. He exposed him; when the other sons covered him. He dishonoured his father’s dignity, rather than honoured him. God wants us to walk in honour, so this goes for your spiritual parents too. Most of us have had spiritual parents who have nurtured us, but no one is perfect. There’s been areas where they have been a blessing to you and not been a blessing to you, but we need to honour them as well.
Tony and I saw a beautiful example of honour when we visited Bethel Church in Redding, California. This is the same famous church known for contemporary worship music and great teaching. They have a 14-7 prayer house, healing rooms, outreach, and so much more. We arrived at the early service on Father’s Day 2017. Eric Johnson chose to not only honour the fathers, but also the single moms in the house. These women were trying to fill the place of both mother AND father to their children. He encouraged the congregation to bless them financially and with a hug. And so they did, including my own Tony. This same honour attitude was also extended to those who came to faith that day. In many churches I’ve been involved with, they have everyone close their eyes and people can slip hands up anonymously. I understand why they do that, but at the same time, those people can also be frightened from any contact, so it’s good to welcome them in honour. Eric told them that they acknowledge them in the open, so they can be encouraged, rather than to hide. They are seen as that important. Parents also need to honour their children, so that you allow them to be who they truly are. The Apostle Paul warns fathers in Eph. 6:4, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (Message)
Number three: Honour our elders. Lev. 19:32 says to “Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord.” Tony and I have noticed there is more of a culture of honour in South Africa towards the tannies and ooms then we have in North America. We celebrate that. We found the same in Sierra Leone, where their strong culture of honour is helping heal divisions from their civil war. Rob Packer says there is a prevalent mindset in western culture that expects people who are over 60 to retire from work, get their pension, play bowls, move to an old folks home and wait to die. They say they have done their bit, they have had their day, and now they should move over and let the younger ones do their thing. That is such a strategy from the enemy! Older folk have the greatest time availability, greatest life experience, and financial resources. Many great businesses, inventions, and art is produced by people aged 60 to 90. Patricia King also encourages seniors to get out there on the front lines of ministry. She says the second half of life of these people can be greater than their first half was.
Yet in the west, there is the rise of elder abuse. We see elderly people taken advantage of financially. They are targeted in scams with no conscience against it whatsoever. Some of these seniors are left absolutely bankrupt with no way to care for themselves. Even some family members, have been abused rather than honoured. They’re just put in a home, and forgotten and never visited. I’ve been fortunate in my family. My maternal grandparents were cared by my aunt, uncle and cousins. I even took three months off from volunteer work to care for my own parents in 2015. It was an honour to do so. Right now, we live in a retirement community and are always happy to see family visit our neighbours. We even plan to visit the most frail of our community. This gives us great joy. I look forward to seeing my folks again on our home visit next year. We always pray for their health and life. Our friend and co-worker Maggie loves and ministers in the old-age home in nearby Robertson, as well as many seniors in that community. She is a real representation of honouring the elderly, in a special, loving way. That love and honour that she shows them pleases God. It touches them and Maggie is blessed in the giving.
Number four: Honour widows. The Apostle Paul mentions honouring real widows in 1 Tim 5:3. Some of these widows and widowers are just barely getting by. They are lonely and need to be honoured; they need to be loved on. They need to be esteemed, blessed, invited out, and given affirmations. Sometimes they need finances, so every once and a while, slip them some rand notes when you shake their hand. Some people call this a Pentecostal handshake, although I can say that Anglicans and Baptists have done this to me when wishing me well on short-term mission trips. Psalm 68 mentions about God placing the lonely into families. I’ve always understood this scripture as the long-term singles, since I was one until Tony scooped me up. However, it also applies to the widowed. Perhaps there is a lonely widow or widower in your community that you can adopt as your own tannie or oom. I can think of a few here in Worcester.
Number five: Honour church leaders. We need to give special honour to church leaders for their care of preaching and teaching. Paul encourages us to give double honour in 1 Tim 5:17, as well as the reminder in 1 Thess. 5:13 that we must esteem them, because they are working hard for you. I know that my Ottawa pastors of John, Shawn, David and Trisha often would endure complaints as well as praise. David and Trisha even stepped down from one of my churches in a painful situation. They are still in my prayers. Sometimes a few of my past pastors have made mistakes and hurt my feelings. But they were not intentional. Our leaders are human, just like we are.
Sometimes famous Christian leaders are slammed, judged, and criticized openly and behind their backs. There are many Facebook posts of others that are in agreement, who also dishonour them. Patricia King asked her own parishioners to not do post any posts on their Facebook pages that are negative, critical and cruel. She asks them to stop negative talk, and to speak positively or not at all. I personally take that stance. I also remember Heidi Baker making a joke that she doesn’t type her name into Google. Some people have pegged her and other charismatic leaders as outright demonic. Now THAT is dishonouring. And she’s not the only target. Unfortunately people who do that create a culture of dishonour. Even Jesus was pegged as demonic by some of the Pharisees.
Our Afrikaaner pastors, Johan and Peter-Louis, have treated us with honour. It is easy to love and honour them back. But even then, they and their families need our prayers. So does your own pastor, and all the leadership that works with them. Please do pray for them and choose to honour them. It will bless both you and them.
Number six: Honour other leaders who may not be as visible as those on stage. 1 Corinthians teaches to give more honour to the invisible ones. In honouring them, scripture doesn’t say to honour them only if they are perfect and flawless. Criticism and judgmental attitudes hurt those leaders. It also hurts those who criticize. It’s dishonouring, so best to pray for the leader. Deal with your own attitude and forgive mistakes. In the case of dealing with abuse, assault and the like; well, that must be reported. But if we’re talking criticism and complaining over minor issues, it’s time to forgive and move on in a gentle way. A critical spirit is only going to harm your own walk with God. It will drag down your health and relationships. Instead, choose to honour. Find kind ways to express disagreement without causing harm.
Number seven: Honour our government leaders; and our employers. Paul wrote in 1 Tim 6:1 to regard your masters as worthy of all honour. Even if they are nasty, you must honour your employer. This means to not bad mouth them to other employees. You are to honour them so that God himself won’t be looked upon in a bad way. We are to be absolutely blameless in this sense. We are to be people of honour.
Even in the political realm, there’s a lot of people – even Christians – that will slam leaders terribly, with a critical attitude. This isn’t just about US president Trump, but every leader. These people may need constructive criticism but not curses. They need our prayers for difficult decisions. We pray all the time for Cyril Ramaphosa.
Patricia King loves the example of David and King Saul in 1 Sam 24: 2-13. In this story, David had an actual opportunity to take Saul out. Patricia says that “Saul was the appointed king. David was anointed as king, but he wasn’t appointed yet. He wasn’t in position yet, but he was blessed to be king. So he could have flaunted his authority. But he didn’t. He actually repented – even from taking a piece of Saul’s garment. He had still ‘touched’ the anointed of God in a negative way. He did not take his life, he did not harm him in any way. He said to Saul, “why are you doing this to me? I’ve only honoured you.” Saul made his own choice before God. Patricia thinks that the reason why David got promoted was because he was a man of honour. Despite his mistakes, he was a man after God’s own heart.
David was greatly honoured, because he sowed honour. He passed his honour test. Patricia shares that “you will always be watched by God before you go into promotion. You have to pass your honour test. Because if you fail an honour test, you will not be able to properly stand in your next place very well. You will fail in that place. God wants you to always pass the test of honour; and you will be tested.”
You might think, ‘well, that person doesn’t deserve my honour.” David could have thought this way, but he didn’t! If he did take that attitude in his heart towards Saul, he would have failed the honour test. But instead, he passed the honour test. “He held the honour test strong, right to the finish, because even after that, he didn’t become king right away. He had to still walk that out. He chose to be humble and he honoured the king. It takes time to honour in that way, but it sets up a good foundation for the future.
Number eight: Honour each other! This includes our spouses, best friends and everyone else. If you thought you were being missed out in this honour-fest, well, you’re in the party! You’ve not been forgotten. The Apostle Paul asks us in Phil 2:3 to esteem or honour others. In Rom. 12:10, Paul says to love each other with genuine affection, and to take delight in honouring each other.” I’ve watched this love and honour in action at Iris gatherings where they all scramble to pay the bill. I know our Iris leaders have certainly honoured and encouraged us. We’ve been honoured and loved on by Janis, our Iris Ministries Canada director. And sure enough, she bought me lunch. We all need to grow in giving honour. We could see this as a positive challenge.
If you value something you will take care of it, you will honour it. For example, if you have a three carat diamond ring, you see the value in that. You’re not going to be careless with that diamond ring. You’re not just going to take it off your finger and forget where you put it; because you value that ring. In the US, there is a company who markets caramel popcorn and peanuts in a box and call it “Cracker Jack.” Inside the Cracker Jack box is a ring. If you pull out the ring from a Cracker Jack box, you may like it, but you’re not going to value it the same as the diamond ring. It doesn’t have the value of the diamond ring.
Whatever you value, you will honour. I believe that God wants us to learn to value each other like he values us. When he looks at each of you as individuals, he values you beyond anything you can understand. He is willing to give everything to you because you have such great value to him. When we look at each other, and we can’t see value, just ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to our hearts. He will help us honour each other. He reveals our value. You might look at the person and think, nah, … they’re losers. But they are not losers in God’s eyes. When you look through his eyes, and ask him to reveal his heart for that person, it will change the way that you see them.
If you can change the way that you see them, and see the value in them, you will honour them. This is the core truth in many Facebook posts about seeing the gold in people, rather than the dirt. Yes, we all have dirt, but we also have gold. So it’s easy to honour what you value. I believe that God wants us to see the pure gold in each other. He wants us to see the potential. He wants us to encourage that potential in each other. One of the BEST things about raising children is to NOT tell them how bad they are. Don’t point out all the bad things that they’re doing, and all their mistakes. They better fix this, fix that, do this and do that, ‘cause you’re just not making the mark. If you do that, you’ll destroy your child. They’ll become people-pleasing strivers and not know who they are.
If you’re doing that, you’ll find out that you’re destroying their self-image, you’ll destroy everything about them. Instead, start speaking into them, who they really are. When you discipline them, call them up into who they are. This transforms the way that they live and the way that they grow up. They’ll grow up strong and straight, because they’re being valued. If you feel valued by someone, you’ll live differently, than you will if you feel like you’ve been hated by people. Have you ever gone into an environment where you’ve felt despised? It’s just like you want to hide, you fumble, you’re not yourself, you don’t rise up in confidence; but when you go into a place where you know you are valued and loved, it just pulls up in you the fullness of who you are.
Despite our mistakes, if we honour each other, and see potential in each other, we’ll see each other grow. It will be so beautiful. So honour is a key in building strong people, community and family. Honour is a big deal in countries like Sierra Leone, who is still healing from their civil war. And honour is due to the one who eternally loves us.
So we have learned there is so much to establishing a culture of honour. When we choose to honour, we will in turn be honoured ourselves. It isn’t all one way. So as we choose to honour God, our parents, our leaders, the widows, the vulnerable and each other, we are also within that honour matrix. In earlier broadcasts we learned about encouragement and blessing. To honour is to take that further. In our next broadcast, we will learn further HOW we can honour.
Lord, I ask you to please teach us deeply in our hearts about honour. Show us ways that we have been dishonouring to others. Show us how we complain and speak to our hearts about how to stop these habits. Show us your way, the way of honour, the way of love. Show us what honour looks like. We thank you for your faithfulness to us and give you all the honour of making our lives beautiful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you would like to hear an audio version of this article, please follow this link to CopplesWesternCape.ca and scroll down to #36
We’ll continue to journey through honour as part of a four-part series.
Blessings and love