People want respect, and yet it looks different for different people. We think we deserve respect, and yet Jesus, who truly deserves our respect, never demanded respect from anyone. I am realizing that I use the word “respect” often without much thought to what it really means.
Some very wise women in my circle of friends describe respect this way:
“I believe that respect is attached to value. If you can understand that someone is valuable, whether you agree with them or not, you hold them in high enough regard to allow them to be who they are.”
“Fearless submission. Honoring others above one’s self. Knowing you do not have to protect and defend your ‘self’ but rather live outrageously free in relationship with others because God is on his throne. Respect is not trying to control the outcome but rather letting it unfold.”
“Respect is love in plain clothes.”
“Recognizing the value God placed on another person because of his Son’s life and sacrifice (Jesus died for that person) and deferring to them because of their value to God.”
“I think respect grows from the seed of humility that you plant in his light and care for lovingly.”
Pretty profound if you ask me.
So how do we teach these concepts to our children? Follow Jesus’ example. Model giving respect to others. Jesus showed respect to those he encountered—from the woman at the well to doubting Thomas.
Paul tells us, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” What does submitting have to do with respect? Re-read the answers my lovely friends shared about what respect means. It is submitting. It is putting others ahead of ourselves. It is not demanding. It is loving.
Show your children what respect is by respecting them, by respecting your spouse, by respecting our leaders, by respecting the referees at their games. Showing them how to respect others melds into showing them how to love—even the unlovable, even our enemies, even if we think it’s not deserved, even people with whom we disagree and even those who disagree with us. Respect can and does go a long way.