Former interns will recognize the title of this post instantly. “Our Word is Our Bond” is a teaching given during Gauntlet week (your first week at the Honor Academy). During this sermon, the interns are taught to keep their word no matter what. They are counseled that things may come up to try to distract them from their commitments, but a truly Godly person will not go back on their word no matter what comes up. The not so subtle implication is that interns should not quit the Honor Academy, because if they do they are breaking their word and are therefore in sin. This is a HUGE reason that many people stay at the Honor Academy even when they want to leave – the guilt over “sinning against the Lord” by breaking their word is too horrible to contemplate. And so they stay.
When taught properly and not as a manipulative tool, I agree that sticking to your word is a good practice and something that honors God. However, I’m afraid that the Honor Academy really only embraces this teaching when it benefits them. Here are a few notes that an intern took from the session in August 09:
Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
What does your word mean? Is it a bond? Will you experience pain to keep your word?
– Even in the small things
Joshua gave a promise to the Gibeonites who tricked the Israelites. And He kept His word even after they discovered the deception. When we give our word, we follow it through! No matter what. Our word is our bond.
Given the in-depth teaching on this topic, one would think that leadership would take great care to practice what they preach, to keep their word to the interns even when it might not be convenient.
Unfortunately, that is often not the case.
When the leadership offers you a particular ministry placement for your 2nd year (with scholarship), then revokes it for no reason, their word is not their bond.
When you are told you will be given the position of CA, ACA, or MT and they subsequently change their minds, their word is not their bond.
When they say interns only have to work 31 hours per week, their word is not their bond. (I’ve known several interns over the years who have worked between 50-100 hours per week during summer missions.)
I’m sure I could go on….
So what is the point in bringing this up? No ministry is perfect.
If these incidents were out of character or if the staff members apologized for these things, there would be no reason to discuss this. The problem is that, as far as I know, leadership has never admitted any wrongdoing in these incidents or others. They routinely lie to the interns and go back on their word – yet the interns are commanded to be “flexible” and “submissive.” And if an interns points out the lies, they are scolded for being “not honorable” or “causing division.”
So how does the Honor Academy leadership stack up against their own teachings?
Do they stick to their word? Even in the small things? Will they experience pain to keep their word?
As Ex-Intern 07 has pointed out recently in the comments, HA leadership seems to love teaching the story of Joshua being tricked by the Gibeonites. Although Joshua was unfairly tricked, he still kept his word to them. Joshua is continually held up as a model of character to be emulated.
There is a reason for that.