I was on a plane yesterday when I overheard a conversation between two passengers sitting next to me.
Woman: What do you do back home?
Man: I serve in the military.
Woman: Wow, that’s great, thank you for your service.
Man: Well, you all are worth it.
In the US (where I am, at the moment), it’s Veterans’ Day and there’s a real pride and a desire to honour people who are prepared to serve their country.
I like it.
At home in the UK, we honour our armed forces (past and present) too but imagine what could happen if we adopted a culture of honouring everyone around us?
‘To honour’ means to literally esteem, respect, admire.
Imagine what could happen if today, we properly thanked the unhappy-looking cashier at the supermarket, for the (thankless) task they do?
If we sent a card to people who serve in Police stations, fire stations, ambulance centres? Said ‘ta’ to the bin-man, the postie? Paid a compliment to the person at work who’s not like you, who drives you nuts?
To our British sensibilities, to be honest, it sounds too schmaltzy and embarrassing. But the difficulty is that by not doing it, we’re contributing to a culture that is dishonouring.
And whether we like it or not, honour is a Biblical instruction. We’re told to ‘honour our parents’, to ‘honour those in authority’, to ‘honour the elders of the church’.
I think we become unstuck because we feel as though honour should only go to those who deserve it.
After all, why should I ‘honour’ a politician I didn’t vote for? Why should I honour a waitress who’s paid to be there? Why should I honour my church leaders, when they’re not even very good?’
Honour is a gift we’re told to give, regardless of whether the person has earned it or not.
I’m not talking about ignoring bad leadership or declining to challenge poor behaviour (sometimes it’s just got to be done) but it can be done in a honouring way.
The Bible doesn’t say, ‘honour your parents if they’re good role models. Or, honour your leaders, if you voted for them and like their policies.
It just says honour. Do it. Try it.
When we choose to honour, despite the circumstances, something amazing happens. Fractious hearts begin to soften, people begin to talk to each other and as a by-product, walls can start to break down and relationships can be mended.
On a plane yesterday, I saw two very different people chat to each other. She was a woman in her mid 50s, a mother and new grandmother, chatting to a young military chap in his 20s.
By the end of the conversation, two very different people had swopped email addresses, so that he could show her the sights when they landed.
Was it ‘honour’ that helped to forge the beginnings of that new friendship? I’d like to think so.