Memorial Day, Honor, and Heroes

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Today is Memorial Day in the United States; a day to honor U.S. service members who died while serving their country.

On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, I watched the first 25 minutes of the online service of Woodlands Church during which they asked current or past members of the armed forces to stand.  I was reminded how frequently that was done while I served on the staff there.  Memorial Day weekend, July 4th weekend, and even Veteran’s Day if it fell on or near the weekend.

As current and past members of the armed forces stood, I remembered the gratitude I felt for their service when we honored them along with policemen and firemen after 9/11.  It was a powerful experience as we honored them.

As they stood, I was also reminded of our honor-giving, hero-making role as pastors and leaders of ministry.  It is a key opportunity and one we should never miss.  After all, in our ministries, we get to choose who will be honored as a hero.

I remember when I first heard this notion, that we get to choose who will be honored as a hero.  It was the early 90s.  I was attending a conference on developing vision and building teams…and I’ll never forget the realization that in recognizing those who do what is admirable, in making heroes of the right people, we can play a part in helping other people step into a new trajectory.

I was reminded again of this important practice in On the Verge, a new book in the Exponential series by Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson (watch for my review later this week).  Clearly, if you want to build a ministry that enters a new trajectory, you will need to rethink who you are honoring as heroes.

If you’ve never done so, you might want to do a kind of honor assessment in your church and for 30 days keep track of who gets mentioned from the platform and other ways (bulletin, newsletter, and website).  Although it may be right on target, you might find you need to pay more attention to who you acknowledging.  You may discover that you’re missing the opportunity to recognize and affirm those whose actions are most in line with a new trajectory you’re dreaming of and instead, continuing to affirm those whose behaviors are aligned with the status quo.

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