Honor, especially in the form of appreciation and recognition of the contribution of others, is a foundation to future success. Honoring those who have contributed to us in the past builds a stronger foundation for what God is building in us for our future. When Jesus healed the ten lepers, only one returned to say thank you. Because the one leper returned to give honor to Jesus, Scripture tells us he wasn’t just healed; he was “made whole”. (Luke 17:11-19)
Alex Haley said, “If you see a turtle sitting on a fence post you can be sure he didn’t get there alone.” That is true of all progress and success in our life. Additionally, the more the turtle recognizes those who helped him get there the more God, other people, and other opportunities will come into that turtle’s life to build his fence post even higher.
One of the Ten Commandments tells us that we are to honor our father and mother. Paul tells us that this is the first commandment with a promise— “…things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:2-3 NLT). This commandment is not about, as the famous words of one parent stated, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.” It is true because, whether we like it or not, our parents are part of us today. We not only have their physical DNA and all of the characteristics that go with that, we have the emotional, spiritual, and character deposits they have put inside of us. To some degree, all of us must end up forgiving our parents for things that they deposited that weren’t helpful. We need to learn to forgive our parents, looking beyond their failures as parents. Only then can we find our wholeness in who our true, ultimate [Heavenly] Father is! Forgiveness and being willing to have compassion on our parents is one of the first steps of honoring them. After all, they were human with lots of faults—just like us.
But, wait, that’s just the beginning; there’s more! Forgiveness removes the bad effects of our parents; however, it doesn’t enhance and increase the positive qualities that they deposited into us. One positive we all share is the fact that our parents are responsible for us being born! Proverbs 20:20 (NASB) says, “he who curses his father or mother, his light [lamp] will go out.” To dismiss, demonize, or minimize that there was any good in our parents is to curse part of us, to shoot ourselves in the foot. When we honor what we can honor, we multiply the good of that in our own life. What we honor about the contribution of others in our life becomes bigger and better in us; thus, it becomes more powerful in our potential to pass it on to others.
Here are some of my reflections with my family:
I want to honor my wife Sharon because she has spent 43 years listening to and patiently helping me process tens of thousands of thoughts, dreams, ideas, and struggles. She patiently endured so much neglect in early years of marriage, she forgave me and pressed through our difficulties and made it possible for us to have an amazing 41 years of marriage bliss.
I honor my Dad because he put inside of me an example of audacious faith and irrational confidence in the ability of God to do great things through me. I will never forget him taking me to Durango when I was 10 years old. I saw the business he invented out of nothing there, the Bible School that was started by his entrepreneurship, and the orphanage that he helped fund and support. I always thought [and believed] that of course I could go to the nations and start incredible things—all because of the seeds my Dad planted inside of me.
I honor my Mom; because, like a story I told Sunday, “I can still feel her hug.” The deepest part of my identity tells me I’m an unconditionally loved person. Shouldn’t everyone think I’m wonderful? My Mom sure did.
I honor my brothers and sisters:
-Jerry—When I was no more than 5 years old, comforted me when I was being punished in time out. He was the first one to teach me that the bad things I did were different than the person I really was.
-Beverly and her husband David—They followed me in my crazy idea to plant a church when I was 23 years in old. They virtually chose to live in poverty for a few years to help this dream become a reality.
-Steve—Steve was the big brother I wanted to be like, so, when he became a “Jesus Freak”, I followed him to Calvary Chapel and found the renewal of my faith that led to a lifelong call to ministry.
-Janey and her husband Sam— Janey and Sam stirred and challenged me with their faith in starting Charlie’s Lunch to turn tragedy into a worldwide ministry.
-Tommy—After receiving national acclaim because of his song writing and worship leading gift including being a part of a national movement called Promise Keepers, Tommy asked me to join forces with him to do worship evangelism crusades. Largely because of him, I had access to audiences where I ended up preaching the gospel to somewhere close to 50,000 people. His faith in me was a huge spark to the call to establish Heart for the World International ministries.
I could go on and on about people who I have tried to go back and thank. I try on a weekly basis to think of someone who has made a great contribution in my life and thank them. Each time I do, I feel the blessing on my life growing larger. So, I want to encourage you to go on an “honor journey” to remember; and, wherever possible, find a way to express intentional gratitude for those who’ve deposited into your life.