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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Why It’s Important to Honor Others

Why It’s Important to Honor Others

Pastor Ted Cunningham shares the importance of seeing all human beings as image-bearers of God. He’ll challenge you to encourage your friends and family by “calling out” their positive attributes, and shares humorous examples from his own family. He recommends writing “honor” lists and giving them to family and friends, especially as a birthday gift.
Original Air Date: January 11, 2022

Preview:

Ted Cunningham: You’re an image bearer of Almighty God, and you have automatic intrinsic value. Your value comes from God, not me. Your value comes from God, not your spouse, not your children, not your parents, not to pastor, not your co-workers.

End of Preview

John Fuller: That is such a great description of Genesis 1:27, which says, we’re all made in the image of God. We’re gonna hear more about what that really means with our guest, Pastor Ted Cunningham. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, and your host is Focus President and author, Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, January is the month that we celebrate the sanctity of human life from cradle to grave, and today’s message from Pastor Ted fits right into that theme. The reason the sanctity of human life is important to us is because it’s important to God. Each of us are created in His image. We are image bearers of the Almighty and applying that knowledge to life and death questions like abortion and euthanasia is very illuminating. Recently, Pastor Ted spoke to our staff on this very topic in his typical humorous and engaging style. Uh, Ted is an author, comedian and the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri.

John: And here now is Ted Cunningham on today’s Focus on the Family.

Ted: Well, it is great to be back. I just … I want to start by saying thank you for trusting me to do, uh, date nights around the country on behalf of Focus on the Family. And I want to share with you my favorite joke from these events because it came to me from an 86-year-old missionary at our church. Uh, Pat Kershaw served for over 60 years with International Students Incorporated here in Colorado Springs. And I was actually working on a chapter in the book, A Love That Laughs, chapter three where I’m helping couples find their shared sense of humor.  And I meet with Pat about once a month at Panera Bread for coffee, and I was working on it when she came in and she calls me preacher boy sometime, so she asked me, uh, “What are you working on?” I said, “I’m just helping couples find their shared sense of humor.” And she said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, too many people try to be funny and they’re not funny. Do you know what I’m talking about? And so instead of trying to be funny, they should just look for funny because funny is all around us, humor is everywhere, and really just call it out.”  And I, I made the, the mistake of asking Pat, “Have you seen anything funny lately?” I asked my 86-year-old senior member of the church, “Have you seen anything funny lately?” And she goes, “I saw it just yesterday while getting my mammogram up in Springfield.”

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: Now every pastor needs a good mammogram story from a senior member.

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: I said, “Pat, what was funny up in Springfield?” She said, “Well, you know, it’s at Mercy Hospital, and the nuns they got verses all up and down the hallways. Ted, what verse do you think they have hanging on the mammogram machine at Mercy Hospital?” I said, “I have absolutely no idea.” She said, “2Corinthians 4:8, for we are hard pressed on every side.”

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: “But not crushed, that’s the whole verse.”

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: And I went to Dallas Seminary where we learned that is a verse out of context, can I get an Amen on that one. So (laughing) I love when people visit our church in Branson after they hear me share that on the road and they’re like, “We want to meet Pat.” That’s the only joke she’s got, I got to be real honest with you. But it is a good one. I love encouraging couples with humor, and families with humor, and our church with humor, but there’s a word I want to give today, and it’s one word that changes the way I value my spouse, it changes the way I value my children, my parents, it changes the way I value co-workers, changes the way I look at strangers I meet on the street. It changes the way I view people that don’t look like me, talk like me, and that don’t vote like me. It changes the way I view people of the opposite party, (laughing) it changes it. Now I would even say it flies straight in the face of the hostility that we’ve been experiencing a little bit in our country and our world, and even in our church over the last couple of years. And the word is simply, honor. I love the word honor. Honor means to esteem as highly valuable. And I want to look at this word three ways today. First, I want to explore it from the scripture and then I want to challenge all of us. And this is a challenging message for me because I know how I tend to value people and how I tend to look at people, but I want to look at them through the eyes of God, I want to see them as image bearers of Almighty God. And so I want to be challenged in my thinking and in my heart with this word. Uh, but then I want to get very practical and give you four ways that you can show honor, uh, to the people in your family, to the people you meet on the street, to the people in your church, to your co-workers all along the way. I want to start in Genesis 1:27. This passage is where we started our church, Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson. Uh, we start with this passage whether we’re talking about abortion, immigration, racial reconciliation, divorce, adoption, fostering, it all starts for us with the image of God in man, the Imago Dei. Genesis 1:27 reads, So God created mankind in his own image. In the image of God he created them. Male and female he created them. So even when we talk about sex, sexuality, gender, sexual orientation, it starts for us with Genesis 1:27, the Imago Dei. We see every human being as personally autographed by God and highly valuable. Gary Smalley put it this way, “Honor is a decision we make to place high value, worth and importance on another person.” Whether we realize it or not, the value we attach to God, our children, and ourselves greatly determines the success or failure of our relationships. Now, here’s the cool thing about honor, and it’s the most important thing we can learn about honor today before we get practical, honor recognizes value, it does not set value. When I honor you, I am calling out the value in your life, I’m not determining it. You know what that means? There’s nothing I can say or do that adds to or takes away from your value, nothing. I can’t add anything to it, and I can’t take anything away from it, all I can do is recognize it and call it out. I don’t know why this word sometimes gets me emotional, because right now is the moment that I would want to tell you a joke, and my wife would be sitting down there going, “Don’t you do it? Don’t you sit in this, Ted.” She says my number one flaw as a pastor and speaker is that I love to bail people out. Like when we’re sitting in it and some stuff we need to be challenged with, to me the joke is the great escape, and all God’s people said …

Audience: Amen.

Ted: No, half of you went, “No, don’t you do it.”

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: Look, I just did it. I can’t, I can’t … This word gets me emotional because, you know what, someone’s listening to the broadcast right now who feels worthless. They’ve been told that by a parent, they’ve been told that by a spouse. And for years, and years, and years, and they’re driving right now, they’re at work, they’re at home, they feel worthless. And I just want to remind that listener, that is a feeling, not the truth. Ryan Pannell, one of the therapists at Hope Restored with Focus on the Family, I love what he says about feelings, because too often in the church we like to stuff our feelings, we like to tell people, don’t pay attention to feelings. Ryan’s got the best quote on feelings I’ve ever heard, he said, “Feelings are like our children, we should listen to them, we should care for them, but we should not allow them to make major decisions for our family.” So if you’re feeling worthless right now, guess what, that is a feeling, don’t allow that to make major decisions for your life. Because the truth is, you are an image bearer of Almighty God, and you have automatic intrinsic value. Your value comes from God, not me. Your value comes from God, not your spouse, not your children, not your parents, not your pastor, not your co-workers, not strangers you meet on the street. Your value is not based on another’s thoughts, feelings, words, or actions. And if I can just say it another way, your value is not based on your thoughts, feelings, words and actions.  God determined your value by creating you in His image. Every single human being is created in the image of God and has automatic intrinsic value. It’s what I love about Focus on the Family. It’s why all the great work that you’re doing in around the, the, uh, pro-life movement, you see every child in the womb and outside of the womb as an image bearer of Almighty God, created in the image of God. You see, we tend to value people, and I’ll put myself in this, this is why I need to be challenged with this message, we tend to value people based on their age. We value people based on their job. Why do you think when after you meet someone one of the follow up questions, first follow up questions is what, what do you do? We like to ask, what do you do, so I can then figure out how long this conversation is going to last. We value people based on status and income, race, nationality, political party, behavior, abilities, disabilities, intelligence, sexual orientation. And I think there’s another important thing to say about honor, I do not need to agree with your decisions, I do not need to agree with your lifestyle choices to see you as someone who was created in the image of God.

Audience: Right.

Ted: You’re an image bearer of Almighty God. Now it’s important because as always, we, we have to talk about the difference between the image of God and being a child of God. So through creation you bear the image of God, but it’s through salvation, faith alone in Christ alone that you become a child of God. Let me say that again. Through creation I bear the image of God, but through faith alone in Christ alone, I become a child of God. Sin, it marred the image of God and man, but it did not remove it. Jesus died for my sins. And so I want to encourage us as we walk through this, and we talk about honor and give some very practical ways. I love getting into the practical ways, because we can talk about this all day long, but how do we live it out? How do we walk it out in our family and in the workplace, and even with strangers, (laughing) even with people that we don’t agree with, even with people of the opposite party? Because how I think about people and how I treat people, that matters to God, it matters to God.  And it’s easy to honor those who think like me, believe like me and vote like me. What did Jesus say in Matthew 5:46-47, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” In other words, there’s no skill needed to love an easy to love person. There’s no skill needed to honor someone who’s being nice to you. So how do you live this out practically? Let me give you four ways that you can affirm another’s value … another’s high value with words. And the very first one, it’s my favorite and it’s changed my life over the last 18 years. I’ve been practicing this for 18 years after Gary handed it to me. But the first thing I want to encourage you to do is write it. Write it down. I walked into Gary Smalley’s office, and he was working on something, and it was four pieces of paper stapled together, and across the top it said, all the reasons why Norma is highly valuable. And I said, “Gary, what is this?” He goes, “Well it’s an honor list.” I go, “What do you, what do you do with this?” He said, “Well, I’ve been keeping track of all the reasons why Norma is highly valuable because, right, confirmation bias teaches us we make decisions and then we look for the evidence to back them up.” He said, “This is all of the decisions … they’re all the decisions that I have made about Norma, and I like to be reminded of her value.” He said, “After we get into a fight or we get into conflict, I come back in here and I grab this list.” He said, “And, and it’s not the time to edit.”

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: He said, “I don’t walk in and pick it up and look at it and be like, that’s not true.” No, he said, “No, I, I am reminded … ” And if, if you knew Gary personally, you know he’s a pretty emotional guy. He said, “I usually don’t have to get off the first page before the tears start flowing and I’m reminded of her value, and I go back to her just in a different posture.

John: Some great wisdom from Pastor Ted Cunningham today on Focus on the Family. And we’re offering a CD of this program so you can listen to the entire presentation or pass it along to someone. Uh, we’re making that available for a gift of any amount today when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459 or donate and request that CD and other resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s return now to more from Ted Cunningham as he continues his story of a pivotal conversation he had with Gary Smalley.

Ted: He said, “Ted, do you have a list for Amy?” I said, “I don’t.” He goes, “Get it started.” And this is my well-worn list, I travel with it, but it’s all the reasons why … I’ve been writing them down, what I love about Amy, how I have fun with Amy, but it’s all the reasons why she’s valuable. And it’s kind of a personal list, so some of you may be able to take some of ours and tweak it for you. But it’s really understanding how my wife as an image bearer, how God created her in her personality and everything, I love it and so I’ve written it down.  And my very first one is, I love your all or nothing passion. My wife is a very passionate woman. Everything is passion coming out of that woman. Raise your hand if you’re married to a strong woman. Let me just see your hands raised. I always love how slow that goes, do you want me to raise my hand right now?

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: I don’t care how you answered that question, how you answer the next question is even more important. How many of you love being married to a strong woman? I love being married to a strong woman. She is passionate. I can come home from a bad day at church and be like, it was a rough day at church. She’s like, fine, let’s quit, move to Africa, be missionaries full time. Wow!

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: That escalated real fast. I think we should sleep on it and definitely pray about it before we go. And she’s passionate about our walking, she walks me and the dogs every night before sunset.

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: And I mean everything. There’s no strolling, there’s zero strolling in our [inaudible] we’re getting to where we’re going. And she’ll ask me, she’ll go, “Hey, you squeezing your cheeks together? Hey, listen, (laughing) I’m 47 and a half, I don’t need to … and I grew up Baptist, they’re always- we’re good, you don’t ever have to worry about it.” But she’s a passionate woman. Everything she does is passion. And we call them in our home, these grand declarations. And she’ll just make a decision, she’s really good at making these decisions. And she’s got an honor list for me as well, but I thought that’d be weird me sharing all the honorable things she says about me, so I’ll just share hers. She’s … She’ll, she’ll make these grand proclamations in our home, and she’ll be like, “Here’s what we’re gonna do”, and it’s like, – and like marching orders we’re doing it. I love that passion. Like, call it out. I love your disdain for directions.

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: No lie, you love letting me lead. Like when we go through airports as a family, I’m in charge, because Amy loves to be let … she doesn’t want to think about gates, and times, and, and boarding and all. She doesn’t want to think about any of that. If she’s traveling today with her father and going through airports, and I get nervous, I’m like, “Are you okay? Are you gonna get there.” And she’s like, “When you’re not around I’m fine.” But she goes, “I love kicking it in neutral. I love your disdain for directions. You love letting me lead. You couldn’t care less how we’re getting there or when we’re getting there. While driving at airports you pay no attention to signs because you completely trust me getting you there.” This one I added a few years ago because I noticed that I love your two love languages. She has to love languages, acts of service and quality time, which means I serve her for long periods of time.

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: And in the middle of that is that decluttering love language, she lives by a pitch, pitch, pitch, get rid of it, we don’t need it. I put in here, I love your silent patriotic laugh. When my wife finds something funny, she places her hand over her heart, (laughing) she leans forward, and nothing comes out.

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: We went to see a comedian years ago who did like a 15-minute bid on a colonoscopy, and for 15 minutes she didn’t breathe, she just sat there.

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: And my goal, listen, this, this … I think … and then we’re only on like number four on this list, and this is pages long, but my goal as her husband is to get her to laugh every day. My goal is to get that silent patriotic laugh. I almost get it every day, but sometimes I’ll get just a chuckle. The other day we’re in the grocery store, and I’m not a big fan of shopping, so I’m constantly looking for ways to bring out the humor in these miserable grocery shopping experiences. And sometimes she’ll send me over two aisles, “Hey, run over and get something.” I was walking over to another aisle, and I came across Coca Cola has a new 15 pack, I don’t know if you’ve seen it. It’s a 15 pack of Coca Cola, a third of the box is this big white stripe, and I kid you not, it says, 15 pack, three cans more than a 12 pack.

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: I grabbed it, I take it over, it’s worth it for me to walk two aisles for something we ain’t gonna buy just to show Amy, I didn’t get the silent patriotic laugh, but I did, did get a, huh, that’s enough for me. I go, no … And then I’m milking it even more, I’m like, “No, remember when your math teacher said, show your work? Coca Cola is showing their work.”

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: For all the people who were raised on new math, frustrated, right, call it out. I’m going for that silent patriotic laugh; I want to see that in her. I love … this is one of my favorites, I’m just gonna skip through the list a little bit. But I hope as you’re listening, you’re considering the list. Pull your notepad out on your phone or your iPad, and before you get home tonight jot down five reasons why your spouse is highly valuable, jot down reasons why your children are highly valuable. We don’t give our kids birthday cards anymore, we give them an honor list and it has an … that whatever age they are, our daughter just turned 18, she got 18 reasons why she’s highly valuable on her list. It’s gonna save you money on cards and it’s gonna mean a lot more. This is one of my favorites, I said, “I love how you prioritize our marriage. You’ve eradicated the kid centered home and you place our marriage first. Date nights are important to you, and you model a great marriage for our kids.” I have some personal things in here on how she loves our son and the way in which she shows that, how she loves her daughter and the way in which she shows that. I love your commitment to Christ. You’re sensitive to the Lord’s leadership in your life. I love your spontaneity. With two to three days’ notice, you cut loose and go with the flow.

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: My favorite line is when you tell me, just call me Flo. Can I tell you, every marriage, every family, every relationship has these dynamics. I … There are some personal ones on here that I’m not sharing with you, but it’s our honor list. She has one for me, I have one for … Write it down. Write these words down. Call out what you see in someone else, but please don’t stop there, gift it. We’re used to giving Hallmark cards and gifts at birthdays, and anniversaries, and special occasions, I’m here to tell you, an honor list is one of the best gifts you can give someone. Proverbs 22:1 says, a good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is better than gold or silver. And I saw that play out the first time we gave an honor list to my mom when she turned 64 years old. And you know, my parents are at that age now in their 70s they don’t want any more stuff, I don’t want more stuff. Every time I leave my parents’ house, I leave with a box of stuff. This is a true story, I’ll be like, “Mom, this is your blender, you have your blender in here.” “I’m done cooking”, right, that’s kind of where they are in life.

Audience: (laughing).

Ted: But you know what she’ll never get enough of what I’m called to do until she or I draws our final breath, and that is honor. I asked all the family, I conspired against her on her 64th birthday, I asked my dad, my kids, everybody to write an honor list for Palma Bonnie. And we went out to a nice meal. At the end of the meal, in between the entree and dessert, I invited everyone to take out their honor list. My mom didn’t see it coming and it hit her like a train. And she was, “What’s going on?” I said, “I’ve asked everybody to write down all the reasons why you’re highly valuable, and we’re just going to go around the table and share it.” Listen, we didn’t get to the first line on the first list before my mom went, “Mmmm, you know I hate it when you do this Teddy.” Like, but that’s honor. We are … She couldn’t hold it together around the table, because you know why? Honor, a good name, more desirable than great riches. To be a esteemed, better than gold or silver. I love to do this at birthday parties I’m invited to. If I can tell there’s no plan or no structure to the evening, I’ll ask whoever’s hosting the party, do you mind if we do an honor bombardment? What do you mean? We’re just going to go around for birthday boy or birthday girl, and everybody is gonna speak one word of high value over this person, maybe share a story or a line or two, I’ll write it down, I’ll text it to you at the end of the night. We do this at our staff meetings. Uh, I love to grab just a cup, piece of paper, write everybody’s name down that’s in the meeting, tear it off, put it in the cup, shake it up, pull one name out, one name out and we go around as a staff, and everyone honor bombards that person. Write it down, but gift it. And even better than that I have found, write it, gift it, number three, speak it out loud. Can I tell you … let me tell you, one of the best ways to teach your children to honor God, others, and you is to honor each other. Let them see you practice honor. But one of the best ways to show that, to model that is with each other. And so I don’t just give this to Amy, I don’t just write it down about Amy, I don’t just gift it to Amy, but I make sure my children are present and I will read these words out loud in front of my kids. I want them to see how important this is, why? Proverbs 18:21 says, the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. When we speak words of high value into people, when we speak words of high value over people, right, when we’re speaking these words to people, reminding them, not setting, but reminding them of their value, it’s so life giving. If you want to raise kids who know how to honor people and the image of God in man, and see people as autographed by God and highly valuable, then let them see you treat people that way, in the home, in the workplace, to strangers on the street. Would you pray with me?  Father, first and foremost, I pray for the one right now that’s listening, that is an image bearer but is not a child of God, that today would be the day of their salvation. That they would repent of their sins, that they would confess that Jesus is Lord, believe that He has been raised from the dead, that they would be saved. And that through creation they are an image bearer and through salvation they become a child of God. Thank you for Focus on the Family and the work they’re doing here to lift up the Imago Dei and go straight into culture with it, honoring people, honoring the unborn, honoring couples. Give them the ministry of honor in all that they do and all that they stand for. And we pray this in the authority of the name of Jesus, and everyone agreed and said, Amen. Love you. Thank you for allowing me to share this.

John: Pastor Ted Cunningham speaking to the Focus on the Family staff at a recent chapel gathering.

Jim: John, I so appreciate Ted’s message. Uh, this is foundational stuff, it’s Christianity 101, and it’s definitely something that we should be teaching our children, especially in a world that is so polarized on a variety of issues. We need to remember that every person is made in the image of God, whether we agree with them or not. And I’d highly recommend that you discuss this content with your family and get the CD of this presentation from Ted or watch it on the YouTube channel. Let me also encourage you to visit us online and learn more about our Live It challenge, it’s a series of free resources and fun project ideas that will help your family learn more about our faith, and more importantly, how to live it out. Uh, you know, our surveys tell us that over the past year, over one million people said that Focus on the Family helped them influence their communities for Christ, that’s a huge number.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And we are honored to participate in the Lord’s plan to spread the gospel far and wide. But as a nonprofit ministry, we need your help, we rely on your contributions to fuel these efforts. So please consider donating to Focus on the Family today. And when you make a donation of any amount, we’ll send you a CD of this message from Ted Cunningham as our way of saying thank you.

John: Yeah, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459, or you can donate online and request that CD, uh, when you stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And when you’re online with us, be sure to look for the link to the Live It challenge, and we’ll also post some articles on how to get more involved in pro-life efforts. Well, next time Dr. David Clarke explains how to save a marriage that is headed toward divorce.

Preview:

Dr. David Clarke: So you’re in a situation like that with your marriage that seems impossible, there’s just no way out, look what’s happening, it’s been years like this, and Satan is pushing, you’re done. God may not be done and is not gonna be done with that marriage, there’s always a chance with God’s help.

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