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Posted by on Mar 22, 2013 in Generational | 3 comments

How do I Honor my non-Christian parents?

How do I Honor my non-Christian parents?

Thoughtful man in the living roomI was speaking on honor at an event a few weeks ago when I noticed a young lady quietly weeping during the message.  It was obvious something was heavy on her heart, so I talked to her about it when the event was over.  She really wanted to experience the benefits of an honoring relationship with her parents, but was having a difficult time reconciling that with the fact that they didn’t share her Christian beliefs.

If honor means to place value on another person, how do you value the input and ideas of people who don’t share your beliefs or system of values?

The Bible doesn’t put any qualifications on the commandment to honor parents.  It doesn’t say you’re exempt if your parents are imperfect, unbelievers or even abusive.  All it says is that if you will practice honor, it will go well with you.  In fact, Peter shows us that honor (in marriage) can actually help win people over to your system of values:

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 1 Peter 3:1

I’m not saying it’s easy.  But, here are some suggestions to help you honor people who don’t share your values:

1.) Seek out advice.  It’s true – you may not be able to use everything they say, but it doesn’t have to stop you from asking.  Just taking the time to ask for input on decisions you’re making communicates a lot of value to the person you want to honor.

2.) Really try to understand that advice.  Even if you disagree, don’t just assume their advice is coming from a poor system of values.  Dig a little deeper.  Try to understand their perspective.  The goal isn’t to agree.  The goal is to understand.

3.) Compare and contrast points of view in open dialogue.  After taking time to truly understand their point of view, talk about how your view of the situation is different.  Take time and care with this step.  Give them a chance to understand you and offer critique of your perspective.

4.) Leave an open door for further input.  In many cases it’s OK not to act on the advice of people who offer a different set of values.  If you want to honor that person, though, don’t slam the door on them.  Purpose to value and weigh their input in future decisions.  It’s not the easy road…but it will add so much value to your life.

If this post has interested you, you may also enjoy “My parents are controlling. What should I do?” which gives more perspective on how to honor when not obeying.

How about you.  Have you ever faced a parent or someone with opposing values that you wanted to honor?  How did you handle it?


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Posted by on Jul 18, 2012 in Generational | 4 comments

My parents are controlling.  What should I do?

My parents are controlling. What should I do?

Sometimes parents seem so overbearing that you feel you hardly have room to breath with them in the room, much less have a decent relationship.  The intentional practice of honor can actually help in these situations!


My Friend Debbie

Although my friend Debbie grew up pretty privileged, her transition into young adulthood was not easy.  Her mother was plagued with an unrealistic fear that Debbie would never find a spouse.  This fear drove Debbie’s mom to control every decision Debbie made from 18-years-old on from a warped point of view.  Her mother used emotional pressure to press Debbie about her choice in college, what kind of car she drove, how she did her hair, her weight, her clothing, her friends, even her spiritual beliefs.  When Debbie resisted her, her mother began to put pressure on her to come back home where it would be easier to make sure she was positioned to marry well.

Perhaps you can relate to Debbie’s experience!  How do you turn a situation like this around?  Here’s how Debbie handled it:

Debbie decided not to move back home, despite her mother’s wishes.  She recognized that she could not allow her mother’s fear to control her decision and that she had to take responsibility for her choice about where to live.  She took the time, though, to travel home and discuss the choice with her parents.  In fact, she dedicated a summer to travel with her parents, making sure they were a part of the decision and carefully listening to their input.  The decision was hard on her mom, but the relationship is intact and her mother knows that Debbie cherishes and appreciates her perspective.

Honor doesn’t always mean obedience

Honor doesn’t always result in obedience.  In cases like this, I try to lean heavily on the Biblical meaning of honor: “to put value on” or “to make weighty”.  The input of someone I desire to honor, if I do it right, is weighed heavily in decision-making.  I seek it out; and take effort to really understand it; it’s respectfully considered, dialogued about and gratefully accepted or gracefully set aside.  Just like for Debbie, this process takes time and commitment to the relationship, but will usually result in parents being honored and feeling respected, even if their suggestion is not implemented.

And here’s another benefit.  When parents feel like they are being honored, they are likely to become less controlling.  If you will take the time to work through the decisions you’re making patiently with them, seeking and considering their point of view, they will begin to trust you more and start affirming the path that you decide to take.

What about you?  How do you handle making decisions that your parents don’t agree with?

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