Honor in the Workplace
As the CEO or leader in your company, what example are you showing to your employees, customers, vendors, and competitors concerning the principle of honor? How would each of these groups grade you if asked how well you follow the Kingdom principle of honor?
Before looking at some practical examples for how to demonstrate honor in the workplace, keep in mind that it’s not the outward demonstration that the Lord judges, but the inward heart motive. When the heart is properly motivated, the outward action is a natural demonstration of a pure heart. But when the heart is not right, the outward demonstration is just a clanging cymbal (1 Cor 13:1).
Honoring the Lord
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much honor do you give the Lord in your workplace? Do you really love the Lord more than your business? If the Lord asked you to give (not sell) “your” business to your competitor down the street who annoys you, would you be able to do it? Would you trust the Lord that He has something better for you without seeing it? That’s what Abraham did when the Lord told him to leave his household and go to a distant land that he had never seen before (Gen 12:1).
Do you hide your relationship with the Lord from those that you work with, or is your relationship with the Lord seen in everything that you think, say, and do? We don’t need to wear crosses around our necks or a “Jesus fish” on the bumper of our car to prove our love for the Lord. People can tell who you love and value by what you say and do. Your words and actions speak much louder than scripture quotations posted on the wall.
When someone asks you how much time you are spending in prayer, reading the Word or in quiet time with the Lord, is your response that you have been too busy lately? As Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). It’s been said that if you really want to know what people value most in life, take a look at their calendar. Doesn’t your calendar show what you put first in your life? If we love and value our relationship with the Lord above all else not even our business or family will be able to steal time and attention away from Him. Never allow the enemy’s lie that you are too busy to spend time with the Lord enter your mind.
When the big sale finally comes in, do people hear you praising and thanking the Lord, or are you giving credit to man, whether it is you or an employee? Who gave man the ability to prosper (Deut 8:18)? When increase comes, we should honor the Lord of increase.
When business is slow and you are losing money, or your company is being sued, or you are facing some dilemma in the office, do people see fear on your face and hear it in your words, or can people see a peace and assurance that shows them you are walking intimately with the Lord and fear nothing except Him?
How much honor do you give the Lord in your workplace? Ask the Lord and ask your employees, peers, family, and friends, the people that know you well. You might be surprised at their answer. Ask the Lord to show you what changes need to be made in your life, your calendar, and your organization in order to honor Him the way that He deserves to be honored in His Company.
Honoring Your Authorities
How do you honor those who are authority figures in your life? That would include your parents, your spouse, federal, state, and local governments, spiritual leaders, and mentors. Do you truly value them or are you simply honoring them with external actions but belittle them in your heart? Are you like the “trash-talking” congressman rising up for the president at a joint session of Congress or do you sincerely value them in your heart even when you disagree with what they say and do? Do you pray for them and thank the Lord for their role in your life or are you dishonoring them by throwing off restraint, mocking them, and fighting against them? Remember, when you dishonor those in authority you dishonor the Lord who put them in authority.
Your spouse, children, employees, protégés and those that should be submitted to you will always be looking to see how you honor those that you should be submitted to in order to determine the metric or “bar” that they should be using to honor you. Since everyone is called to be subject to the king (government leaders), church leaders, mentors, parents, and spouses, this is a perfect opportunity to show those under your authority that you are also a person under authority and that you honor those authority figures in your life.
Honoring the Government
How do you honor the president of the United States, congressman, elected officials and the IRS? Do you hate them (hatred is murder of the brethren) or love them? Do you mock them, belittle them, and resist them? God counts that as dishonor. They are in power because the Lord either ordained it or permitted it (Rom 13:1). We are required to pray for our leaders even if we don’t agree with what they say or do.
We are required to pay taxes and render honor to our governmental officials. As Jesus said, render to Caesar the things of Caesar and render to God the things that belong to God. Our government leaders aren’t asking for our hearts and our devotion – just our money. Let’s give it to them as they deserve.
If you take taxes personally, you have forgotten that you own nothing and that you are just the steward of the Lord’s finances. If all the revenue belongs to the Lord, then all the bills belong to Him as well. Do you think that Jesus would try to cheat the tax man? Then as a steward of His finances don’t attempt to do it yourself. There is a fine line between ordering the Lord’s finances so that your company pays the least amount of taxes and “gaming the system” to avoid paying taxes that the company rightly owes. Seek wisdom from the Lord on how to steward His finances in a Christ-like manner and render to Caesar what is due at tax time. Remember, it’s not your company and therefore it’s not your tax bill. Steward it properly.
What do we do when the government overrules God’s laws? We must honor the Lord first. When Daniel was told not to pray he did it anyway and was thrown to the lions. When Peter and John were told to stop talking about Jesus they refused, saying, “We must obey God rather than men” and they landed in jail. We can (and must) resist the unjust laws of a corrupt government but we must do so with respect.
Honoring Your Competitors
When was the last time that you honored your competitors? When you talk about them, are your words honoring or dishonoring them? Contrary to popular belief, your competitors are not your enemy. We are all co-laborers in the Kingdom. They may not know the Lord and may behave like a child of Belial instead of a child of God, but they are just as much co-laborers in His Kingdom as you are. Since the Lord is the one that designates authorities and sets one down and puts up another, the Lord uses unbelievers to advance His Kingdom and provide for His children. Each of your competitors has a purpose in the Lord’s Kingdom whether they understand that or not, or whether they are performing the work of the Lord or not. We need to value the Lord’s plans for their lives and business by honoring them.
Do you mock, belittle, or ridicule your competition? Do you attempt to make yourself and your company look better at their expense? If you do this, then realize that your officers and employees will pick up on this practice, see this as an acceptable practice and most likely repeat this behavior. As the leader in the company you need to set the example that “we honor everyone, including our competitors.”
The Lord wants our competitors to succeed just as much as He wants you to succeed. Remember He brings rain on both the just and unjust (Matt 5:45). Your competitors need business in order to provide food for their families and employees. The next time that you lose a contract to your competitor down the street, praise the Lord! If you win the contract, praise the Lord! If He provides for an unjust company that won a contract through deceptive measures how much more will He provide for His son or daughter who is seeking to follow Him whole heartedly?
Realize that in a competitive business environment, as long as you are operating from a Kingdom mentality you cannot lose! If you win, that’s great. If your competitors win, that’s great. The next time one of your competitors wins a contract, why don’t you send them a congratulatory card with a hand written note with a sincere blessing?
Remember that “…we do not battle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). There are real enemies out there in the marketplace that you have to battle every single day. But remember that your competitors are not the enemy but co-laborers in the Kingdom, even when they are cheating, lying, or suing you. Honor them the way that you want the Lord to honor you.
Ask the Lord to show you where you need to repent for failing to live a life of honor. Ask Him to show you the people that you dishonored in your thoughts, words, and actions and the events that occurred that brought you to the point of dishonoring them. Ask Him to show you how you could have handled the situation differently. As a person of honor, you can disagree with them, face them in court if necessary and do it in a way that shows that you value them personally even though you may have been hurt or offended by what they said or did.
Learn how to recognize the triggers that cause you to dishonor someone and ask the Lord for the grace to change your responses so that you can deal with those who contend with you, without dishonoring them. If you learn to walk a life of honor, the Lord will honor you and you will walk in favor with God and man.
Jeff Ahern is an author, public speaker, and former Naval Officer who has provided management consulting and business process improvement services to Fortune 500 and Government clients for over twenty years. He is co-founder of Sozo Services, Inc., a spiritual advisory firm helping business leaders succeed and achieve their personal and corporate goals by using Biblical, Spirit-led solutions.