To honour others means respecting them and holding them up as important before the rest of the community. It means affirming their worth as precious human beings and praising people, complimenting them for their efforts or achievements.
This is not easy. It can be a struggle at times because it requires humility. There are many things that can get in the way of our being able to honour others.
2 obstacles to overcome to honour others
I don’t even need to tell you about the many reasons that cause envy to flare up like a brush fire in our lives: Accomplishments, talents, recognition, houses, furniture, clothes, income and the ability to move up the corporate ladder.
The Bible gives tragic pictures of envy at its destructive best: Joseph’s brothers see him as the centre of attention and despise him for it (Genesis 37). Abel is honoured by God and Cain envies him with the result of first degree murder (Genesis 4.8).
If envy has sunk its roots into our hearts we look at another and their success, and the longer we look, the smaller we feel. Someone is honoured in some way, spoken highly of in our presence perhaps, and in our mind and perhaps out loud come all kinds of qualifiers like:
- “She may well have been good at that BUT if you knew about this….”
- “He may well seem good BUT compared to…..”
- “His generosity looks good BUT it’s probably just a cover, a front for….”
And we whittle away at the person’s honour, carving it down to a manageable size. That’s envy.
2. “Don’t praise that person too much. It will go to their head.”
I’ve seen far too many children who desperately wanted something, anything, even if it was only a scrap of acknowledgement thrown to them from their parents’ table; wanting to hear – “Well done, Sandra! Great job, Bruce! I’m proud of you.”
I’ve seen far too many people who, far into their adult life, are still suffering the trauma from that kind of undeserved neglect and who end up going through life shouting to anyone who will hear, “Love me! Please someone, love me!”
This thought about too much positive affirmation being dangerous ought to be stopped dead in its tracks.
4 ways to honour others
- Deliberately praise others for their gifts and accomplishments. You can do that by saying something positive about them to a third-party. You can also do that by giving thanks to God for something good in them.
- Rejoice with those who rejoice. Do your best to share the joy and satisfaction with someone who accomplishes or receives something. Deliberately.
- When you find yourself always comparing yourself to others, take time to meditate on the graces and greatness of God, who far outstrips us and any other people.
- When you experience even small pleasures in simple things, pray and recognize God as the ultimate Giver of them all.
How will you know if you’re making progress?
Think of your progress like a ladder.
The first rung is: we want the spotlight for ourselves.
When someone else receives credit for an action in which we are also involved we immediately think, “What have I done to deserve being overlooked and mistreated so?”
The second rung is: being willing to share the spotlight with someone.
The conductor of an orchestra or choir, when the audience applauds, will acknowledge the applause with a bow but will also turn to the performers and credit their efforts with a sweeping gesture.
The third rung is: when we delight that others are in the spotlight…never mind ourselves.
John the Baptist showed this attitude when Jesus drew His following away from him. People asked John about it and he said, “It’s OK. That’s how things are supposed to be.”
The fourth rung is: making it your desire and aim to have others enjoy the spotlight.
Not only do you enjoy another person’s success, but you work hard to make it happen.
We are called to honour others above ourselves.
It’s a high goal that God calls us to and it one that we should strive towards. It’s a character trait of mature Christian living – one that develops with much discipline and persistent spiritual training. And with the guiding power of the Spirit – something we’ll move ever closer towards.