If it’s a dying virtue, then we have resuscitating to do.
It’s an age of touted self-expressionism, a carnival rife with flagrant displays of political outrage, and moral obscenities. It’s an age of madness and foolishness. It’s an age in which the virtue of honor takes a quiet seat amongst a crowd of other seemingly forgotten virtues. A consumer culture bent upon fulfilling vices is sorely in need of a Church and believers willing to put others above themselves.
How can we look to restore and instill honor in our fellow students, and ultimately aim to change and challenge a world caught up in strife?
Allow me to expound.
What exactly is honor?
Honor. It’s an important word. Families have been ripped apart and nations have gone to war over it. Bold men, good men, like Alexander Hamilton, died trying to attain it. Soldiers have made suicide charges to keep it, and captains choose to sink into a dark, watery abyss rather than dessert their vessels – and thus lose it.
As the soldiers of Pickett’s charge (google it if you haven’t heard of it), the captain who “goes down with the ship,” and the rest of history recalls, the idea of honor has had severe connotations.
It’s been gravely misunderstood.
The apostle Paul reminds believers to “outdo one another in showing honor” in Romans 12:10. The Greek word for “honor” in this passage is “timē.” Strong’s concordance defines the word as, “properly, perceived value; worth (literally, “price”) especially as perceived honor – i.e. what has value in the eyes of the beholder; (figuratively) the value (weight, honor) willingly assigned to something.”
Nothing whatsoever to do with gallantry or legacy. Instead, it has to do with whether or not we “properly place value.”
Honor, at its core, relates to the value we place on others.
Creating a culture of honor
“Talk to the Janitors and ask them how the people that work here treat them,” said Regent’s Executive Vice President for Student Life, Dr. Joseph Umidi. He’s dedicated to creating a culture of honor here at Regent.
He asserted that to create this environment, this home of equality and understanding and worth, students should be “honoring people who can’t do anything for [them]… who are marginalized, who don’t have a voice.”
He added that, “it’s a core value… a kingdom [of God] value.”
Envision a community that treats its janitors the same way it does their professors and deans. All within, regardless of position, would live reminded of the reality that they’re beloved and worth more than that which they could ever attain through jumping ranks and climbing ladders.
Our work – our efforts to elevate and place ourselves into high positions or roles – is as futile as wearing a Burger King cardboard crown and assuming the position of royalty.
It’s attained in putting people – our fellow man – as a priority in all we do.
Dr. Umidi told me that two things are required for people to be honored: 1) Individuals must know that they’re voice is heard, and 2) that they belong or are meaningfully contributing to a cause or community – something bigger than themselves, than personal desires of achievement.
Listen to those around you. Learn the meaning of their name, and ask them questions beyond those relating to their major and where they’re from. Encourage them to discuss and pursue their passions and interests and their motivations behind their words and actions. Give them a chance to show their hearts, to show what they would bleed for, fight for, work for.
Remind people of how unique God has made them (Psalm 139:13), and how they’re serving a specific purpose. Consistently serve their needs, and set an example for them to do the same. Yes, it requires chopping down trees of pride we’ve planted in our hearts; to cease acknowledging people’s worth based off the shimmering veneer of their titles and plaques on their desks. It’s in a community like this – held strong by the bonds made firm with selflessness and servant leadership – that honor thrives.
Fight for one another, and “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). Regardless of our stances or opinions, we must continue to listen, to make those around us know that their voices are heard, that their lives matter, that they’re worthy of honor. Let us join together at a roundtable to gather and thrive; to give our brothers and sisters a place of importance – a place where they know they are heard – to live and grow. It is from this table, from this community that holds not to fleeting vainglory, but firmly to virtue as a solid rock, where people are committed to placing others above themselves, that Christian leaders are molded and sent to change the world.
Philip Reynolds is the senior editor of The Daily Runner.