Honoring missionaries: first in a series.
Is there anything wrong with bestowing honor and respect on a person who serves in the armed forces, especially those that have been in combat?
I don’t think so.
Would it be wrong to describe this natural inclination we all have to acknowledge their commitment and give them honor and respect as….sort of like….putting them on a PEDESTAL?
Again, I don’t think so.
If we believe that it’s not only acceptable, but right and proper to place the members of our armed forces on a pedestal of honor and respect, then personally, I don’t think Christians are doing anything inherently wrong or unbiblical if they also place missionaries on a pedestal of honor and respect.
Before I explain the reasons why I believe missionaries are pedestal-worthy, I’d like to clarify what I believe pedestal-placing is and what it is not.
WHAT PEDESTAL-PLACING IS
For many people, including myself, when I place someone on a pedestal, what I mean is that I’m bestowing upon them an increased level of honor and respect that I believe they have earned because of their out-of-the-ordinary, self-sacrificing commitment to a cause that is larger than their own interests.
In other words, placing a person on a pedestal is simply acknowledging to them and others that their willingness to do what they have done is worthy of being recognized, honored, and respected.
WHAT IT IS NOT
Placing someone on a pedestal is not a declaration that the one you’ve put up there is better than you, smarter than you, more important than you, or living a better life than you are.
And it certainly isn’t uncritically accepting whatever they say or do as if they never make mistakes.
WHAT IT DOESN’T DO
It doesn’t damage your self-esteem, self-worth, or your emotional health when you acknowledge that someone has voluntarily chosen to do what the vast majority of the rest of us have never been asked or even considered doing.
I do realize that in our culture, we have pretty much abandoned the phrase and that if it’s ever used, it’s almost always used with a negative connotation.
But, what if pedestal-placing as I’ve described it above is actually a gift from God that has the potential to glorify Him and to be a source of great blessing to the one that is placed on the pedestal and the ones who place that person there?
What if missionaries in particular actually are worthy of being placed on pedestals of honor and because of our own sin nature and the influence of our culture, we’ve inadvertently cheated ourselves out of one the greatest tools that God has given us to reveal His glory to His own people and especially to those who don’t yet know Him?
Pastor Jeff Jackson is the founder of Shepherd’s Staff Mission Facilitators and currently serves as the director of Church Relationships and Missionary Care. Jeff previously served with his family as church planters in the central Philippines and in the United States.