Many of us have heard the short leadership quip, “You get what you honor.” The point is that what you hold up for admiration is what receives imitation. The quip calls us to recognize the power of example and use it for the purpose of leadership. I’ve always had some hesitation about its use with regard to spiritual growth and developing leaders because the last thing we need is Christian leaders who are motivated by an ambition for public recognition. I know it doesn’t have to work that way, but lurking beneath “you get what you honor” is the potential that some will do what needs to be done to receive that kind of honor.As it happens, I'd just recently had a conversation with a friend about the same phrase. Here's the argument I made to him:
I think it's partially true. Some things are more or less within our control to produce. Human beings can condition behavior. But you know as well as I do that we cannot accomplish heart transformation. That's a work of the Spirit. We can honor heart transformation all we want (assuming we even know how to identify it with certainty), but no matter how much we honor it, we can't make it happen.Last night I had the opportunity to talk about parenting to reach children's hearts in a non-religious setting. The parents who were there clearly recognized that we can control behavior—to an extent. Our reward-punishment schemes will succeed with children as long as they want what we can give them (candy, prizes, recognition, honor) more than they want what we don't want them to have (unlimited internet access, acceptance with their friends, sex). As one mother put it, "My kid can say he's going to youth group, but if he can always lie to me and sneak out with his friends."
Of course, I had to admit to them that the fundamental need for heart change that both their children and they need is something that no parent—even no human can accomplish. If you want to produce great athletes, honor great athletes [/SkinCrawl]. If you want to produce memorizers of Scripture, give kids stuff when they do it. But if you want godly children (or adults) no human scheme is sufficient to change the heart. Whose power and ingenuity do we really trust? Or whose should we?