Back in March, it appears that I struck a chord with this post. Not only did it receive a lot of Tweets and comments, I’ve probably not had any post that has generated as many confidential email messages confirming this is as issue in churches across the country. Because of that, this became the #5 most popular article in 2011.
The “Culture of Honor” is Hurting Churches
At the risk of not showing honor to peers in ministry, I want to tackle the topic of honor today. I’m concerned. I see a trend in churches that I think is unhealthy. Honestly, I believe it’s also unbiblical.
There are a number of churches today that are trying to teach a culture of honor. The concept of honor is biblical. In fact, Romans 12:10 tells us to:
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (ESV)
We should show honor to our leaders, but God designed it to go both directions. If it’s one-way, it’s unhealthy and unbiblical.
Let me explain further how God designed honor to work in church leadership. First of all, we are supposed to submit to our leaders. Hebrews 13:17 says:
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
One of the ways we show honor to our leaders is by submitting to their authority. At the same time, though, leaders are instructed to show honor by serving those they lead:
“But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”
That’s the servant leadership that seems to be missing when the “culture of honor” is carried out to the extreme. Servant leadership only goes one direction. When that happens, honor only goes one direction.