If you watch much news or if you are on social media, then you are aware of the venom, vitriol, and disrespect that permeates our daily discourse. It hardly seems possible to have a civil conversation with someone who has an opinion that differs from yours. Rather than discuss ideas and defend our philosophical positions with intellectual acuity and dignity, we allow our conversations to devolve into silly epithets and grade-school-name-calling. It actually makes my head hurt. I have nearly sworn off social media interaction and watching the news. To prove my point, just because I included President Trump’s name in the title of this article, many readers reacted either positively or negatively, with disgust or ecstatic interest.
We need to learn how to be respectful, even with those with whom we disagree. I truly believe respect helps a person be successful in life. Particularly in an age where there is such division and strife over politics that people can’t seem to disagree without being disagreeable. Respect is more important than ever now. Jesus Christ modeled and taught us how to respect and be respected. It is one of those non-negotiable attributes that Christians must demonstrate. How do you develop that kind of respect?
1. Worship God.
The Bible refers to this as reverent fear for God. One must respect and revere God and keep Him at the center of one’s life. You will not always understand everything about God. He is far too vast for our finite minds to comprehend. You can know Him though. He loves you. Always approach Him with reverent fear. We call this worship.
2. Demonstrate respect even if you disagree.
You will not always agree with the authority in your life. Sometimes those in authority are wrong. It is important, however, to respect those with whom you disagree. There is far too much venom in our culture today. Be a part of the solution not a part of the problem.
3. Respect yourself.
Don’t go through life with a small view of yourself or the life God has given you. You are unique and have a unique purpose in life. Believe in the grand plan that God has for you. You are a leader. Leaders accomplish their mission with resolve. Do not operate in ego or pride. Admit it when you fail. Be transparent with your success and your mistakes. Learn your strengths and weaknesses. Work on your strengths most. Surround yourself with people who are better and smarter than you and don’t be afraid to give away praise and authority along with responsibility.
4. Respect others without fearing them.
Fear God and only God. Respect all men. Cower before none. Stand in awe of God and his creation. Admire others and congratulate them for the good things in their life but do not stand in awe of them. They are only human, and the fear of man leads to failure. You are equally as valuable as they. Your attitude will separate you from the crowd; your work ethic, boldness, and respect will make a difference. Lead when others tremble. Do not be afraid to take risks.
5. Respect begins at home.
Men, respect your wife, cherish her, and love her. Seek to understand her. Remember, the things that you don’t understand are what make her mysterious and special. You can understand other men but will probably scratch your head when it comes to understanding women. On the other hand, you will get to make love to your wife and become one with her. That is worth not understanding a few things! Be kind to her. Do not belittle or berate her. God has charged the man with the responsibility of sanctifying his wife, so respect her.
Women, respect your husband and love him. It is one of the great commands that God gives to wives. Although scripture certainly implies that women are to love their husbands, the far more explicit command for wives is that they are to respect their husbands. God knows that men feel loved through respect. In a culture that sees marriage as a place of self-fulfillment, God shows us that true fulfillment in marriage comes through self-sacrifice. The foundation of this kind of selfless expression is respect.
What do you think you need to do to show more respect and reflect the love of Jesus in our current political climate? What needs to change in your daily conversations or in your social media interactions? Respect is a big deal and we need a lot more of it. You may not be able to change the entire national environment, but you can begin changing your environment today.