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We lead by serving and we lead by loving. But there is another vital element that only the most effective leaders possess. It's an element that hasn't received a lot of attention in the leadership literature that fills the shelves of your local bookstore.

This element goes hand in hand with serving and loving and actually makes them come alive. It's the Bible word honor.

The Greek word translated honour in the New Testament connotes something of priceless value. This word is associated with a sense of heaviness and weightiness. It's similar to glory in one respect. And when you learn to give honor to people, you open them to your influence in remarkable ways. Honor is a powerful biblical principle.

Frankly, honor is the key to making any relationship work. And as a leader, it is perhaps one of your most important tools in opening another person's life and heart to your influence and to the direction God would bring through you. Of course, it can't be something you use in a manipulative sense. No, this is a genuine thing I'm talking about. I'm referring to making a quality decision to honor other people. This is the element that is so frequently missing in the lives of leaders.

Of course, you can serve and love without honoring somebody. But it's not scriptural love. It's not scriptural service. Because when you serve somebody without the element of honor, essentially you're saying, "I'm serving you because the Bible says I must, but deep down I don't want to." I'm here to let you know that it won't work. That's not scriptural service. It's not scriptural love, and it won't produce the result the Bible promises.

I have discovered this about biblical love: It is a reflection of how much you value another person. That's all. Your willingness to serve on a long-term basis is a reflection of how much you value whomever it is you're serving. So love really is an outworking of your decision to place a priceless value on the people that God brings into your life.

"But Mac," you might say, "what if a person doesn't deserve any honor. How can you give honor to somebody to whom honor really isn't due?" I would respond by reminding you that this is precisely what God did for each one of us. He valued us so much that He paid the ultimate price. Did you deserve it? Of course you didn't. Nor did I. So to say that we can't honor somebody until they've become deserving of it is inconsistent with the example Jesus set for us. God has already demonstrated to us that it is His purpose for us to extend honor-to place a high value on the people He brings into our lives, whether they deserve it or not. Why? Because He loves us that way too.

Honor Opens the Door
Once you decide that you're going to honor somebody and you then begin doing the things that will honor them, you open them to your influence and leadership. You open them to receive direction they can follow with their whole hearts. To open people to your leadership, you must honor them. It's a principle we find woven throughout Scripture.

We know that the Word instructs us to honor God. He also tells husbands to honor their wives (1 Peter 3:7). In the same chapter, wives are exhorted to honor their husbands. Of course, children are repeatedly commanded in Scripture to honor their parents. (A great promise comes with that command-long life and good health.) And in Romans 12:10, all believers are encouraged to prefer one another "in honour."

In none of these instances does the instruction to give honor have anything to do with whether or not the person deserves it. God didn't put a condition on it. He just said do it.

I believe that honor is frequently the missing element where our interpersonal relationships are concerned. And yet, according to the Word, it's the one thing that will unlock a person's heart so you can become effective in your leadership. So practically speaking, how do you honor people?

Keys to Giving Honor
Some of the most important aspects of giving honor have already been mentioned - having the attitude of a servant-leader and in the decision-making process, for example. That makes the wellbeing of those you lead the primary consideration in decision making, rather than your own job security or your own future. When that's genuinely your view of things, you are honoring them. You're esteeming them highly. You're making a declaration of their value.

Once you become honor-conscious in your interactions with others, you'll find many opportunities to be so as you go about the routine of your day. For example, when you ignore another person's questions or opinions, you dishonor him, don't you? Or if you belittle a person's opinions or views, you've dishonored her, haven't you? To my embarrassment, I must confess to you that I've been guilty of that on a number of occasions. More than once, someone has tendered an opinion to me, and, in the press of urgent daily business, I didn't even respond to it. I now know that to do so was really a point of dishonor to that person. My actions said, "I don't value you." Of course, that wasn't an accurate reflection of the reality in my heart.

Once I've dishonored someone, I've closed him to me a little. I've started closing his heart to my influence and leadership. Obviously, one of the ways to honor someone is to simply be courteous enough to listen to and acknowledge another's opinion, saying something like, "Hey, I really appreciate that. That's a good idea. I'm going to pray about that. I don't know if it will fit or work, but I'm going to take this to the Lord. We're going to consider it, and I thank you for bringing me that." That's honoring them.

On the other hand, you can dishonor someone by not giving him your full attention when he's trying to tell you something. You've probably had it happen to you, and if you're like me, you don't care for it one bit. You're in someone's presence and you're trying to tell him something, but he's looking out the window or scanning for someone else he needs to speak to. It's simply a lack of honor being displayed.

In what other ways do we dishonor people? Let's examine the thorny subject of correction for a moment. If you lead for any length of time, you're sure to encounter situations in which you have to correct somebody. The key is to do it without dishonoring him. How can you point out something he's done wrong without demeaning or devaluing him?

Obviously, you must avoid giving the correction in anger. It's possible to be firm without being harsh. Beyond this, it is important to make sure your message isn't judgmental or harshly critical. Attack the behavior, not the person. Point out the mistake in judgment, rather than questioning the person's intelligence. Jesus gives us wonderful examples of delivering correction in His letters to the churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3. To the church at Ephesus in chapter 2, he starts out by saying, "I know thy works and how you have labored for my name." He goes for a whole verse telling them all of the good things they've done. He honors them and then he says in essence, "Nevertheless, there is something we need to deal with" (vv. 1-4).

If you're quick to give praise and recognition for contributions made-if you are consistent in honoring people for genuine efforts and good things done-then when it comes time to correct, you can do so without devaluing them.

Finally, one of the most common ways leaders dishonor those they are leading is through a failure to say two simple words-thank you.

It's easy to take for granted the contributions and efforts of those around you. If you don't express appreciation for all that's done for you, then you're greatly dishonoring the people who serve you. You're demeaning their efforts. You're devaluing their loyalty and their efforts to help you. I don't care how high you've climbed in the organization or how many people are accountable to your authority; you never get so important that you can excuse yourself from being thankful and appreciative for the things that people do for you.

Your Greatest Tool - Use it
To me this is one of the leaders' greatest tools for accessing the whole-hearted support, loyalty and cooperation of those who are a part of your life. If you take the time to honor them as valuable-treasures God has entrusted to your care-and if you approach them that way, I am absolutely confident it will stand you in good stead. It will make you a true servant-leader. And as we've seen, servant-leadership is the paradigm of leadership the Bible gives us. It's the only one that will always succeed.

Source: Positioned For Promotion by Mac Hammond
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
 
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at winnersminute.com. He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.
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