In the previous two blogs in this series, we explored two core values:
These core values are linked. Freedom makes love and connection possible, and, in fact, it’s through connection—with God, ourselves, and others—that our freedom to be who we were created to be comes alive, thrives, and finds fulfillment.
Of course, this flies in the face of the bias in our independent, commitment-phobic culture. Many people live in fear that deep connections will tie them down and limit their ability to pursue what they want in life. This fear blinds them to the truth that there are many things they can only be free to do in and through healthy relationships.
Think of professional athletes or performing artists. By submitting themselves to the limits of their discipline, Steph Curry drains three-pointers, Misty Copeland pirouettes, and Lang Lang plays Beethoven with a level of freedom that is awe-inspiring. Likewise, only by submitting ourselves to the limits of healthy relationships can we become:
- Free to trust and be trusted
- Free to be vulnerable and receive vulnerability
- Free to know and be known
- Free to love sacrificially and receive love in return
- Free to belong and create a place for others to belong
- Free to form families
And much more!
The Key Ingredient
But there’s a critical ingredient in healthy connections that allows this freedom to grow, which brings us to our third core value:
- We are made for honor.
Here are a couple definitions and descriptions of honor I use:
Honor is all about seeing what’s valuable, wonderful, and miraculous in other people and appreciating, being in awe of, loving, acknowledging, and otherwise responding to them in the way they deserve. (The Business of Honor)
The principle of honor states that accurately acknowledging who people are will position us to give them what they deserve and to receive the gift of who they are in our lives. (Culture of Honor)
Human beings are all so different, and when we look at other people through a lens of fear, our differences appear as threats to freedom and connection. But when we see each other through the core value of honor, we get to appreciate the beauty, strength, and creativity in our differences—and celebrate them, make room for them, and leverage them in partnership.
This is why honor enables people who are so completely different from one another to form connections that free them to be more themselves, rather than capping their self-expression and growth.
Fathering with Honor
The apostle Paul captures the heartbeat of honor in his letter to the Philippians:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)
The simplest way we demonstrate the Father’s heart of honor is by valuing others above ourselves and looking out for their interests, which involves three areas of focus—knowing them, serving them, and celebrating them.
There are dads out there who know more about bass fishing than what their kids dream of being when they grow up. There are leaders who purposely know the bare minimum about the people in their organization so it makes it easier to move them like chess pawns or let them go. This is not the heart of honor.
One of the most important ways we demonstrate honor is by becoming students of people. Whether we’re parenting children or leading adults, we show the Father’s heart when we pay attention and take the time to discover who they are and what makes them tick—their goals, dreams, strengths, behavior styles, motivators, and needs.
This is the reason I love tools like the 5 Love Languages, Strengthsfinder, and the DISC assessment. When used correctly—to help people get to know, understand, and appreciate others— they facilitate honor.
Getting to know people sets us up to serve them—to take the strength and resources of our lives and point them at others for their benefit. This is how we “look out for their interests.”
Serving isn’t always glamorous, but it is always greatness. As Jesus instructed and modeled, the greatest in the Father’s kingdom is the servant of all—why? Because the servant of all expresses the Father’s heart. Throughout the New Testament, God promises that He is always with us, supplying our needs, answering our requests, and equipping and training us to reach maturity. We don’t often acknowledge that this is the posture of a servant, but it is. He is a Father who serves us endlessly, and when we serve others, we put His heart on display.
Jesus’ ministry began when His Father declared, “This is my Son whom I love, with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). This simple statement was loaded with so much significance. The Father was clarifying Jesus’ identity, vouching for His character, promising backing and support, and expressing delight. This expression of honor was not only for Jesus, but for those around Him—it invited them to see and receive Jesus as He truly was.
In a culture of honor, we put a priority on seeing and calling out the “gold” in people for the same reasons. This is one of the main purposes for the prophetic gifts—to build people up by letting them know how the Father sees them. When we do this, it not only encourages the person receiving the word—it helps us see who they are and honor them!
Today, I encourage you to lean into these three areas of honor. How can you pay better attention to the people around you, serve them, and call out the gold in them?