360° Honor

starsIt’s the time of year where the rush sweeps by and the light of the star can get lost in tinsel. 

This Christmas I am too far away from the 111+ children that stole my heart, standing here right in the middle of decked halls and generically safe holiday greetings.  Some nights I step outside and long for the bright stars that remind of the one Star that leads true seekers home.  Here the stars are dim against our house lights and street lights and the power I am so grateful for after almost 7 years without it.

In this season where Love came down as a helpless defenseless baby born to unwed teenage mom, who, homeless, gave birth to him among the dung and stench of cattle and sheep.  It was not nice and neat and cute as our Christmas cards portray.  It was messy, scary, scandalous, sacrificial and awesome.  It has me thinking about how upside down this Kingdom I walk in truly is.

It has been a brutal year adjusting back to the West that has left me wondering some days if our with all our light, have we lost the ability to see that which truly shines?  Have we simply translated our idea of a cosmic fantasy amusement park play-land and called it heaven?  Some of what I read out there people are calling heaven disturbs me to my core.  I believe in heavenly visitation.  I devoted a good part of my second book to a healthy theology of encounter.  But I tremble every time that I would see Him in truth as He is not as I might make Him out to be.  Yes, He is Papa and He is Love and He is tender and kind and wonderful.  He is also altogether holy.

And Perfect Holiness was wrapped in scratchy cloth and held in the arms of trembling teenage girl.  This is what incredible holy honor looks like. And that takes my breath away.

Since returning to the West, I have heard a lot of talk about honor.  I have read wonderful books about honor needing to become our culture.  {Absolutely, amen to that.}  I have seen those concepts wrongly wielded by some who use them to control people instead of release of them into who they are created to be.  That is just plain sad as it misses the point of what true honor is and looks like.  And I have also seen the reverse where this concept of “honor” was manipulated by people trying to control their leadership, which happened to unfortunately in this case be me. I made the mistake of going so low in trying to serve them and walk in what I thought was honor at the time to lift them up hoping their hearts would change, I actually became a doormat to their interests.  That doesn’t work either.  I have the boot marks to prove it.

Honor can only become a culture when it is mutual. Kingdom honor is 360° honor, surround sound, panoramic, immersive in every way.

This is the honor of the King of Kings who became a helpless baby.  It is the honor of a teenage mom who held onto the promise of heaven growing in her womb even when she could neither understand nor explain it.  It is the honor of 3 earthly kings who left palaces in search of a stable guided only by a star.

In South Sudan, I learned to honor my two year olds just as much as my national leaders.  But honoring my two year olds looked different than honoring my national leaders.  As a leader here, I want to build a solid foundation for those I lead to jump off of to fly higher and farther than I can.  I remind our team constantly I only want to raise my ceiling so I can raise their floor.  And the reason that works is this honor is mutual.  It is flowing both ways and then overflowing to those we meet.

Stepping out to plant a church here in the West, especially one that is rather uniquely structured, is a fearsome step for me.  It is something I step into with trembling knowing that what we hold in our hearts and arms is holy, unexplainable and filled with the mystery of heaven.  We have only a glimpse of what this baby may grow up to become.

In the predawn hush here in Florida I stop and ponder His goodness.  Our beautiful Jesus still honors us by allowing us, even in our weakness, to be the ones that carry His promises into the earth.  Selah. {Pause, think on that.}

What promises has He honored you with carrying?  For you, your loved ones, your family, your workplace, your home, your city?  What does healthy 360° honor look like right where you are at?