For most of us, the concept of honor is inextricably linked with flags and Fourth of July, military salutes and Veteran’s Day. After all, the men and women who put their lives on the line for the sake of our freedom are definitely deserving of recognition for the brave work they do.
But at its heart, honor merits a daily, rather than seasonal, role in our lives and families.
One simple way to define honor is this:
Letting someone know you see how valuable they really are.
I’d love to say I do a stellar job of showing honor on a regular basis and modeling it for my ever-observant, ever-imitating toddler.
However, when it comes to honoring others, I find I’m fighting two common battles.
First, my default setting is… me. I was born into this skin, I see life through my own unique set of lenses, and without an intentional reset each day (or multiple times a day), my focus lands on how the people and situations in my life affect me—and the things I want and need.
Showing honor requires me to look out, instead of in.
Second, honor asks that I take action. So often, I hurry through my day with quick observances that make it no further than a mental note:
“I love how she sends actual cards in the mail to encourage people!”
“He does such a good job of making new people feel like they’re part of the group right away.”
“I can’t believe the kind of commitment he’s put into training for that marathon.”
“That’s the third time this month she’s subbed in for a volunteer who couldn’t make it last minute.”
Honor means taking those mental notes and translating them into words and actions. Whether it’s a special ceremony or just a quick word or email, those individuals will never know I see their true value—to me, to others, and to God—unless I do something about it.
And if I’m honest, there’s a third battle I fight when it comes to showing honor. It’s relatively easy for me to honor people whose talents are different from my own. I’m happy to point out someone’s amazing skills as a jazz musician or the way they’ve helped to build a ministry for the homeless community in our town.
However, it’s much more difficult for me to call out value in people whose gifts and skills mirror my own.
A writer friend who’s just sold a screenplay or whose latest blog post went viral.
A mom who’s doing a patient, selfless job of navigating the toddler years.
A lady at church who excels at hospitality on a level I wish I could achieve.
A small voice in my head whispers that to call out these things and honor these individuals is to somehow diminish my own value. I know this is a lie, yet it’s an easy stumbling block for my feet.
There’s only one antidote for these constant small, degrading battles:
I need God’s grace to see that every person I interact with is made in the image of God, and that their gifts and talents and achievements reflect a small piece of Who He is.
To honor someone is to call out the image of God in that person. And sometimes it takes humility, even courage.
And as I struggle to do this, I know it’s something I want my son to see in me. At 20 months, he already has highly developed opinions about how the world should function in relation to what he wants and needs.
My job, as a parent, is to slowly instill in him the values to shift this balance. Where his default setting is to look inward, I want to engage him in the struggle we already share—to look outward. To see the value, the gifts, the efforts of others. And once he sees them, to make a big deal of it! I want him to understand that every single person we meet is made by God, in the image of God, and that to acknowledge that value is a great gift.