“What a surprise! This was totally unexpected and as far as we can remember, something like this hasn’t been done before,” the pastor remarked.
We recently hosted a Golden Towel Awards luncheon to honor some of the leaders in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the week of America for Jesus. This national prayer gathering was comprised of believers from around the country praying for America. These community leaders and Pastors exemplify and are recognized by their peers for their role in impacting their city. Similar ceremonies occur during our Somebody Cares Summits hosted in Houston, Texas and other regions.
A core value of our ministry continues to be honoring those who labor among us. We are grateful for the opportunities the Lord provides for Somebody Cares to impact communities across this nation and around the world. We recognize that it is the community leaders, pastors and servants of the Lord who make the impact possible.
We look for ways to acknowledge and honor their servant-hearted leadership. At times this occurs at a luncheon or banquet including a Golden Towel Awards Ceremony. The honorees are recipients of an award to demonstrate the gratitude for their leadership and impact. This is patterned after the principle in Scripture in which Jesus, the Ultimate Servant, washed the disciples’ feet. Jesus epitomized honor. Our application references that in our world today people need to see those who are concerned with their well-being. These servant-leaders are more concerned for the good the community as a whole and see themselves as true Ambassadors for the Lord. I refer to it in this way. “While men reach for thrones to build their own kingdoms, Jesus reached for a towel to wash men’s feet.” Thus the Golden Towel Award signifies servant leaders who are building God’s Kingdom by serving others.
Honor is a character value that attracts the presence of God in our lives. Malachi 1:6 says we are to honor God because He is our Father. Exodus 20:12 tells us to honor our parents so we will have long life. And when it comes to releasing a multi-generational anointing, honor is key. Just as God is calling the older generations to believe in, inspire and empower the younger, He is calling the younger to honor the older. In God’s plan, honor releases blessing.
The older generations have an inheritance to pass to the younger, but inheritance is received, not taken. The younger must be willing to honor the older to receive the inheritance. A generation that recognizes the importance of honoring the former and does so will create in the former a desire to release blessings upon them in return, which will result in a corporate, multi-generational anointing.
An Emerging Generation
Many in the emerging generation recognize they need the wisdom and experience of a former generation. They may have a different way of presentation, a different style of everything but they recognize that they can’t completely disregard the ways of the former generation. The only way to cross over into the promised land of blessing and destiny is to acknowledge and honor the former.
2 Kings 6 reports how the sons of the prophets came to Elisha, the older prophet who had received a double portion from his spiritual father, Elijah. The place they lived was not big enough, and they asked for his blessing and permission to build elsewhere. To me this is an analogy of a generation saying, “What we’re doing is unique, and what we desire to do is different. But we recognize we need your blessing.” The emerging generation is full of vision.
If they understand the value that comes from wisdom and covering of those who have gone before, they will accomplish much for the Lord.
A Lost Art
In many cultures of the world, honor is still practiced, especially in the form of honoring previous generations. It is not considered unusual for parents or grandparents to be cared for in their latter years in the homes of the younger generation. Instead of seeing the elderly as a burden, they are viewed as a blessing, a vast resource of wisdom and knowledge. Even in America, there once was a time when we took pains to honor the elderly, recognizing them for their faithfulness and wisdom. The younger generations appreciated the experience and insights of their elders.
Honor Guards for God
Unfortunately it seems this type of honor for the previous generation is becoming a lost art. We have neither learned nor passed on the principles of honor in our homes, much less our schools or workplaces. And if we did not learn to honor our parents, particularly if they were absent, how will we understand how to honor our God.
A while ago, we hosted a meeting in Washington D.C. for our Disaster Response and Preparedness Network. One of the speakers was Pastor Charles Burchett of Somebody Cares Southeast Texas. He had preached a sermon based on the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier prior to this at his church. Now seeing the changing of the guard in person, he was deeply impacted by the display of honor at the Arlington National Cemetery. Pastor Burchett shared:
“The tomb is guarded 24 hours-per-day and 365 days per-year by specially trained members of the 3rd United States Infantry. This select group of sentinels is called the ‘Honor Guard’…Being selected to stand watch over the graves of the Unknown Soldiers is one of the highest honors a soldier in the United States Army can be granted.”
“…day or night, and regardless of the elements, the tomb is guarded, and has been guarded, every minute of every day since 1937. The sentinels never allow any feeling of cold or heat to be seen by anyone and they never change the way they guard the tomb, even at night when there is no one watching. The sentinels do what they do for the ones they are honoring, not for spectators or for their own personal advancement. They genuinely believe that the Unknown Soldiers deserve the very best they have to give.”
Pastor Burchett challenges us to apply the honor guard’s dedication to our own dedication to God the Father.
“Twenty-four hours a day and 365 days a year, the Lord God Almighty sits in the center of heaven. He invites men and women to receive the highest of all honors in the Kingdom of God, that of coming into His Presence to minister to Him. The disciplines of holiness and honor require wholeheartedness, dignity, perseverance, diligence, praise, humility, reverence, respect, and vigilance. Without these characteristics, no one can stand before and minister to the Lord.”
Honor Releases Blessings
Honor releases blessing. First we are to honor God. We are to honor His Word, His Person and His Character so we can walk in His blessing and favor. We honor Him by practicing godly characteristics and principles, and by exhibiting the character of Christ. We honor Him by giving our time and resources.
Second, we are to honor our parents. Even though we may not always agree with them, we disagree while maintaining respect and honor. Honoring our parents is the first commandment to come with a promise, the blessing of long life.
Third, we are told to honor spiritual authorities God has placed in our lives. Again, even if we don’t agree with them, we must still respect their office and the fact that God has appointed them. We remember that they are human and flawed, but we serve as unto God, and therefore, we honor them.
Fourth, we honor one another: spouses, family friends and co-workers.
Lastly, we are to honor the former generations. It would benefit us greatly to study the origins of some of our favorite hymns and to read about the spiritual forefathers who have gone before us and paved the way.
Wisdom doesn’t come solely from our successes, but also from our failures. The wisdom of the elders was often obtained by them as they learned from their mistakes. Honoring those who have gone before us can save us from experiencing the same problems they did. It can be liberating for us.
As we honor God, our parents (natural and spiritual), our authorities, those who have gone before us, and one another, we position ourselves to receive the affirmation of our Heavenly Father. We walk in the fullness of God’s blessings by honoring the foundations that have been laid before us.
With A Grateful Heart
Let us Give Thanks to the Father for His blessings in each of lives. Let us also be thankful for those He has placed in our lives for their example and wisdom. Likewise, may we each impart into this upcoming generation, the encouragement, guidance and blessing they need to run their race well.
A heart of gratitude is one way we express our honor for one another. And as the Apostle Paul shared in his letter to the Philippians,
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:3–6)
May we bring honor to our Father in Heaven as we demonstrate a heart of gratitude and honor first for Him and then for one another.
(Extrapolated from book Who’s Your Daddy Now? by Doug Stringer © 2007; also available on e-books)