“Honour your father and mother,” states the Fifth Commandment. In Sunday school long ago, the lesson was clear: Obey Mom and Dad, whatever they say. Does it mean more?

As “do not kill” covers a swathe of sin—hateful thoughts included—“honouring parents” points beyond rote obedience. With other Scripture, it tells us that all humans are to be honoured—including the weak whose contributions seem insignificant. This is in stark contrast to the narrative of our ego-centered, pleasure-driven world, as well as that of Canaanite and Egyptian societies of Moses’ time.*

Honouring the weak

Comparing (at a possibly stereotypical level) values of European and North American societies with those of other regions, we think of differences in age-related esteem. A core Chinese value of loyalty and deference to parents is captured in the word xiào.** The English translation, ‘filial piety,’ sounds a bit weak itself. But while non-Westerners might come out ahead on honouring the aged, my observations raise questions about a failure to protect the weak. Dishonouring the aged, devaluing the disabled: One way or another, barring biblical transformation, all societies violate this command.

Honouring our seniors

What about us in OM? Do we buy into the world’s narrative on the value of life, or do we live out a more godly view? In our early days, Brethren ecclesiology and Francis’ Schaeffer’s theology gave us a high view of work, and of each worker: bookkeepers and Bible teachers, evangelists and mechanics—esteeming everyone was built into our DNA.

Some who helped lay OM’s foundation have gone ahead to be with the Lord; many continue with us, several in their 80s: Ray Lentzsch, Pauline Jones and possibly others in their 90s. Over 400 active OMers were born before George, Dale and Walter drove to Mexico 60 years ago. Others have dropped from our personnel lists but are still heart and soul part of the family.

How can we honour these ‘mothers and fathers’? Inclusion is one way, encouraging their ongoing participation, not forgetting them in our concern. While OM thrives on the passionate energy and creative approaches to witness of youth, Mickey Walker’s ministry in Dublin demonstrates that the Great Commission doesn’t expire when pension benefits kick in. Nor, we must remember, does the potential of turning to Jesus for the first time. In years past, five of my Asian colleagues rejoiced when their fathers professed faith in Jesus, each within six months of his passing.

A delightful ‘moment of honour’ was expressed at our last OM USA Christmas party. Carl and Arlene Hoffman, volunteers according to the database but fully OMers at heart, were recognised for 60 years of service: hosting visitors, providing mailroom services, maintaining facilities, praying faithfully and much more, going back to the very beginnings of OM in New Jersey. 

Financial care is another statement of honour. Some of our seniors are well-prepared for the years ahead; others find their bank accounts moving toward depletion. Laws and social practices varied in the countries they came from. Some were enabled (if not required) to make long-term provision; others lived—and still live with abundant generosity, while trusting God for daily bread.

And allow me to suggest a fourth, ongoing expression of honour: connection. None of our seniors desire control; they delight in the energy and leadership of younger OMers, rejoicing that God is doing greater things than before. Intentionally keeping them informed means much for their prayers and simply because they care. At a personal level, a phone call or email, a birthday card or (perhaps best of all) dropping by for a visit means so much. Why? OM seniors I surveyed told me that “keeping connected” was what they most desired from OM.

The contribution of our OM seniors might not be the same it once was in terms of books sold, tracts distributed, or miles travelled, but they are wonderfully worthy of honour. Together, let’s make sure we keep them connected.

David Greenlee is presently OM’s director of missiological research and evaluation. Based for the last three years at OM USA, he and his wife, Vreni, also serve as OM USA’s senior liaisons.


*I am indebted to Dr. T. Scott Daniels, now of Nampa (Idaho) College Church of the Nazarene for this thought.

**“What is Filial Piety?” www.thoughtco.com/filial-piety-in-chinese-68838

Share this Resource

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Leave a Reply

You might also like:

Other Resources by

Financial Development Officer – Sportslink International International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleAre you a gifted, passionate and experienced leader and fundraiser who can build local and international financial partners to support our ministry? If you answered yes, we need you to help us raise necessary funds and resources for OM SportsLink International operational and catalytic initiatives. You would have a key role in developing creative strategies to generate sustainable income.
Full Details
Communications and Media Manager International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleAre you a motivated, creative self-starter with innovative ideas who enjoys removing obstacles and solving problems? We need someone like you to direct and manage the communication and promotion of our products & services in the hearts and minds of our various stakeholder communities. OM’s Micro enterprise business ministry is passionate about helping people transform, uplift and empower their communities through business. Join us, help renew hope and see lasting change in people's lives.
Full Details
eBook Programmer (OM EAST – Literature and Media, Austria) International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleUse your skills to convert powerful Christian publications into downloadable eBooks that can travel to hard-to-reach places. Share the hope of Christ by making resources available in areas where there is little or no Christian literature in the local language!
Full Details
Director of Media & Communications – Inspiro Arts Alliance International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleDo you love to communicate creatively? Experience leading a team?

Inspiro Arts Alliance is looking for a leader for our Media & Communications Team to develop and deploy a variety of media to help mobilize artists globally to love like Jesus.

As director of media & communications you will be key to inspiring and equipping this global movement of artists!

Full Details
Event Manager (Run 4 the World – R4TW) International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleWe’re looking for an Events Manager to organize one (or a few) Run for the World (R4TW) events within the serving country/area. If you have skills in event planning, networking and organization, this could be your dream job. Run for the World (R4TW) is an open-source global sports event - running and making a positive impact on the world around you. It is a God-given opportunity to use sport to transform the lives of young people locally and globally.
Full Details
Video Editor – Internal Communications International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleAs the Video Editor on the Internal Commuications team you will be responsible to edit video footage for internal communications projects, eg staff training or global leadership communications.  The role can be conducted from any location assuming there is a reliable and high-speed internet connection for download/upload access.
Full Details
Sportslink International Team Communication Facilitator International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleWe see God at work through our sports ministries, but we need someone to help us to tell our stories better. We need someone who is dedicated, dynamic, creative, team minded and has great communication skills. Are you the person who can effectively tell the story of what God is doing through Sportslink?  Join us and use your gifts and skills to share God’s stories across the globe.
Full Details
International Personnel Manager International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleThe Personnel Manager coordinates and supports people management processes and systems for the international staff team (approx. 180 people worldwide)
Full Details
Public and Media Relations Manager – Global Brand and Marketing International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleDo you have skills and education in marketing and media relations? Have you wondered how you could put those skills to work for the glory of God? You could do that with OM as the Public and Media Relations Manager with our Global Brand Management team. As part of Global Brand Management, you would guide the annual Public Relations and media strategy to publicly champion the work of God through OM around the world.  Could this be the right place for you?
Full Details
Personal Assistant for SportsLink Director International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleDo you have a passion for administration, organisation and practical logistics? Are you detail oriented and efficient in your work? If this sounds like you, you are just the person we’re looking for to help our SportsLink International Director manage his responsibilities as he leads sports ministries which build and strengthen communities of Jesus followers.
Full Details
Community Project Manager International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleAre you experienced in business training and coaching? Do you have community development experience? Can you encourage people as they start a business and form follow-up groups? These groups support and encourage each other and work together toward solutions to uplift the community economically. OM’s Micro enterprise business ministry is passionate about helping people transform, uplift and empower their communities through business. Help us renew hope and see lasting change in peoples’ lives.
Full Details
B4T Developer International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleAre you an experienced business owner or manager? Would you like to use your business skills, experience and contacts to build entrepreneurs?  Join us as a B4T Developer. You will work to grow Kingdom Businesses in some of the most needy parts of the world. Select entrepreneurs, train them in business skills, bring in investors; it is a tough job and not for the faint hearted. Our vision is to see Kingdom Business fulfill its vital role in the Great Commission.
Full Details