“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

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
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
Short-term Project Mobiliser – Inspiro Arts Alliance International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleHelp mobilise artists into specialized, artistic short-term mission projects. Inspire, equip and connect artists globally into the right projects, internships and other short-term opportunities.

Inspiro Arts Alliance is cultivating and empowering artists globally to love through beauty in worship and witness.

You can play a key part in building this global movement of artists on mission.

Full Details
Web developer (OM EAST – Literature and Media, Austria) International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleOM EAST is looking for a skilled web developer to manage and develop their eBook websites to share downloadable Christian media among people groups in hard-to-reach places. Use your skills to 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
IT support person (OM EAST – Literature and Media, Austria) International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleOM EAST is looking for an on-site IT support person to ensure the smooth running of their literature and media ministry’s infrastructure. As you support a creative team of graphic designers, app developers and eBook programmers, you are making it possible to produce Christian media in the heart-languages of people groups around the world.
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
Video Editor – part-time International    Go & Live    As soon as possiblePlay a vital part in creating powerful videos or animations, which help OM teams communicate the gospel with specific people groups around the world!
Full Details
HR Manager for International Relief and Development Partner International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleDo you believe in transforming lives practically and through the Gospel, but your skills are more in management and caring for people? We need someone to help our leadership ensure the health and well-being of their teams, who work in some of the hardest countries in the world, through community development and relief, serving hurting Muslim people. They need someone who has their back! If this is what you are passionate about, join us and put your gifts to use for the Kingdom of God.
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
Financial Development Director International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleDo you have a heart for fundraising for God’s Kingdom?  Fundraising is critical to ensure that our ministries are well resourced and our personnel fulfil their roles to their best capacity. We are a catalyst for seeing vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached and we need someone to oversee our financial development strategy, manage staff and coordinate with our partners.  Join us and use your gifting in financial development as a ministry in our context of integral mission.
Full Details
Video Editor – full-time International    Go & Live    As soon as possiblePlay a vital part in creating powerful videos or animations, which help OM teams communicate the gospel with specific people groups around the world!
Full Details
Short-Term Project Manager – Inspiro Arts Alliance International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleCan you imagine managing creative projects around the world? Are you a problem solver, who pays attention to detail and has good people skills? Are you familiar with ethnodoxology? This role manages short-term projects in a variety of artforms and formats – from performance tours to customized training workshops. Some involve international visits with artists. Other projects engage and empower local artists. But all projects seek to honour local art forms in moving people to better love Jesus.
Full Details