Article by: Brandon Bailey
We have entered an era in the church where scrutiny of the church has increased drastically. Social media platforms have increased the number of spiritual commentators and have firmly placed the spotlight on the church. It is not unusual to find the informed and the uninformed engaged in robust debates as to what is acceptable and what is unacceptable as far as the
church is concerned. One such subject that caught the attention of 21st century commentators is the issue of Honour of spiritual leaders. What is honour? Who deserves honour? Is it possible for honour to go overboard?
The ancient scribe Apostle Paul used the phrase honour quite regularly in his writings to the early church. On several occasions in his writings he would encourage the faith community to honour their spiritual leaders. The conversation on honour and the practice of honour was not an abnormality in the 1st century church. In fact honour goes as far back as the Old
Testament of scripture and was very normal amongst believers over the centuries. It is perhaps the past few decades where the subject of honour has been challenged and opposed because of the extremes that have sneaked into the church. Before we deal with the extremes let us first establish what honour is:
Honour deals with the value the recipient of ministry place on the ministry he receives.
Apostle Paul puts it this way in his writings:
1 Timothy 5:17 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
If they rule well and if they labor in the word then such individuals deserve honour. In the context of the verse it implied that those who benefit from the ministry of these elders will reciprocate such in monetary/material value. In lieu of this explanation the appropriate question then would be: Why should the individual who is not a direct beneficiary of ministry determine the value/honour bestowed? Jesus had a similar encounter in scriptures where the lady with the alabaster box bestowed honour on him to the absolute chagrin of those at the table. Jesus explained the act of honour with such wisdom and poise and I paraphrase “She has done well. I have been with you and you did not even attempt to do anything. What she did will be remembered for centuries to come”.What astounds me about this act is that Jesus did not reject honour and rebuked those who expected him to decline the ladies generosity. Jesus understood one fundamental principle and that is you don’t know the value
of ministry unless you are the recipient of ministry. You cannot judge the discretion of someone as far as honour is concerned if you did not receive what they received.
The question should not be: Is honour is wrong or not? The question should be: Can honour be abused or not? The answer is a resounding YES! Honour can be abused. Sound biblical practice becomes questionable and at times obsolete because of ABUSE. In order for such a powerful principle to be abused we must put fear in the saints and create a dependency on our presence and anointing in the lives of the saints. When people fear a leader and are overly dependent on the anointing in a leader’s life such people will transition from honour to the worship of men. Sadly this is a great phenomenal in the 21st century church, primarily because we have shifted from the 1st century model of empowering the saints to a model of disempowering the saints. Apostle Paul in his epistle to the church in Ephesus explain why we need fivefold ministry; Ephesians 4:12a “For the equipping of the saints”.
When we lose the crux of fivefold ministry which is equipping we have to retreat to amplifying our anointing and force the saints into a position where they are overly dependent on our anointing. When an abusive leader know that people need him that leader will force people into very compromising situations and without them knowing it they are in a default positon
of worship but call it honour for the sake of acceptance. The balance is simple, when a fully equipped believer reciprocates to a spiritual leader for ministry received we call it honour. When a ill-equipped believer is over-dependent on an anointing of a man of God and over extends himself because he knows not and is fearful of consequences such is honour abused and if not dealt with will evolve into the worship of men.
A heart of honour is not governed by fear, it is governed by love
1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do
with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”