Tag Archive: Respect

It’s fun to get email from readers.  It lets me know somebody actually reads this column.  This week, a reader asked me, based on the June 23rd article that I titled “Searching,” what was I searching for.  Once again my sarcastic button wanted to be pressed with “I’m supposed to ask those questions, not you.”  I’m getting better.  I did not even type such a rude response.  Jesus, keep whispering in my ear please.  

I did sit back and think about his question a bit.  I thought about all the things I have chased in the past.  The list is too long to put in this article.  I don’t think the Bluffton Today has enough room for all my wanderings.  

Probably the top three quests I have engaged on would be respect, wealth, and an acknowledgment from my dad that I was valued.  There are long stories behind all three.  I will be brief.  I think I heard the editor’s sigh of relief.  

Last week I wrote about being a different thinker than the rest of my family.  When one feels like the odd-ball we tend to be the odd-ball.  I was raised in a family that did not demand success but it was quietly expected.  Being the youngest and the odd-ball I tended to thirst for respect.  I was my own worse enemy.  I had a chance to go to be in University of Maryland’s doctorate program.  I turned the offer down.  I don’t know why I did that.  To this day it might be the only thing I have done that I truly regret.  I do know one thing.  It would not have satisfied my desire to be respected.  I know it was only a temporary solution.  

For some time I like most Americans who bought the American dream chased up the ladder searching for financial security and a sense of wealth.  Let me just say this, it only takes one major error or event to take all the mullah away.  Wealth does feel good at the time but it is very fleeting.  The biggest problem is once you get “there” (wherever that is) it has to sustained.  Even at that we tend to want more.  It doesn’t matter how much money one makes.  We will spend it or never think we have enough.  Jesus said you can’t serve two masters.  He was right.  

The one that has probably caused me the most problems is the seeking acknowledgement from my dad that I was valued.  It wasn’t my fathers problem.  It was my interpretation of life.  Honestly, dad didn’t necessarily go out of his way to express value to anyone.  He was somewhat a quiet man.  He was obsessed with his business.  He worked hard and his parents didn’t pat him on the back either.  He didn’t degrade any of us either.  Somehow, I wanted Dad to express my value and I never really got it.  I then tried to get it from others.  Thankfully, my friend Bob about 15 years ago picked up on it and he worked with me on it.  I don’t need Dad’s pat on the back.  All I need is my Heavenly Father’s love.  That’s all anyone needs.  Human moms and dads will let us down.  I know.  I’m a dad.

That’s the short versions.  I have also done other ventures seeking God only knows what.  In a few days I will turn 60 years old.  I ‘m still not sure how that happened.  Just yesterday I was 40.  The old body doesn’t do what it used to.  The brain thinks it can but everything seems to move in slow motion.  Here I am entering the last phase of my life and I was asked, “What are you searching for?”  I can answer clearly. 
I’m searching for peace.  I’m tired of the fight.  Some of it is my life has to become simpler.  Less grass to cut.  Less junk in the garage.  Don’t look now, my garage is jammed.  I can’t wait till the next yard sale.  My motto used to be ‘If we haven’t touched it in three years, it’s time to go.”  Now it’s, “If we haven’t looked or touched it in one year it’s way over due to go.”  The biggest thing is I want peace in my relationships.  In the book of James (Jesus’ half brother) he asks a good question.  “Why are there fights and arguments among you?”  I can answer that one.  My wife wants to go to the Okatie Ale House for dinner and I want to go to New York City Pizza.  She wants chicken fajitas and I want pizza.  Better yet, she wants to go to Disney World for vacation and I want to go to the mountains.  Get the picture.

James answered the question as I did.  He wrote, “You want something and you don’t get it.”  He even says, “You ask of God but it is too late.”  You know it’s too late when you are praying to change someone else and not you.  

I’m tired of wanting.  In church work our wants just take on a “righteous” aura.  In reality it’s the same thing as when I was making big bucks fixing cars.  I want things my way.  Do you think my desires bring peace to anyone much less myself.  No way possible.  

I can get rid of the stuff that clutters my life.  I can slow down a bit and get some things off my plate.  That is all good.  But to gain peace in my life especially in regards to my family and friends as well as my neighbors (that’s what Jesus called them) I need to practice a simple Jesus equation.  He said, “In order to find your life you must lose your life.”  Help Me Jesus.  Please.  

A frequent reader asked if I would take a week and address “respect” as a topic. At a weekly Friday morning meeting the issue of respect constantly hits the table. So, I thought this week I would try and tackle it.
Respect is one of those topics that is hard to pin down. It’s sort of like humility. Humility is one of those topics one doesn’t want to discuss. Why? If someone thinks they have it and talk too much about it, it disappears. Respect is close. One can demand respect but not deserve it. One can give respect and not receive it back. What do we do then? I’m not sure I know.
Let’s start with a dictionary definition. The definition I found is this: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Let’s look at the Bible. I Peter 2:17 is probably the best verse that encapsulates respect. It reads, “Show proper respect to everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
Now, let’s put the two together. The Apostle Peter, along with a lot of other Bible authors, talks about our faith in Jesus Christ moving us to honor or respect others. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This is the very message of Christ when he talked about loving God and loving others. In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ moves us out of our own world and invites others, regardless of any distinction, in.
The dictionary definition says we have respect or a deep admiration elicited by someone’s abilities, qualities (positive, if I must add), or achievements. Jesus should automatically gain our respect since His achievement is the giving of His life for mankind’s redemption. This is the very essence of respect either as a receiver or a giver of it. This concept of giving our lives to others is parallel with the apostle John telling us that the love of God is to lay our lives down for the sake of another. Thus, respect happens.
The other characteristic of respect involves leadership. Many from the older generation feel that they should be given respect simply because of their generation’s achievements and age. However, when one generation demands respect without laying its life down for the next, respect will be hard to find. Respect does not really happen because of achievement. Respect happens when you know someone loves and cares for you.
President Trump is an example of this concept. He has some amazing achievements as a businessman. Being elected president is quite an achievement. However, how he handles himself tends to lose him respect even from those who voted for him. Why? There is an air of self-righteousness that diminishes any sense of true public service. This is probably the reason there is very little respect at many levels of leadership. Leadership that does not care for the underdog will not engender respect.
Jesus was constantly caring well for the underdog. In my lifetime, I think Mother Teresa is an example of someone who garnered immense respect. Everyone knew she laid her life down for the downtrodden. She was not weak. Her life backed up her words. Now, there is an unwritten element of respect.
Most of the older generation want to talk about respect because they feel it is demanded. However, get them to talk about where they have failed as parents, leaders, and followers of Jesus Christ, that is a different creature. Respect can not be demanded. It is lived.
God is the foundation of all respect. The Father gave his Son, Jesus, for his creation humankind. We can not be good enough to reestablish a relationship with Holy God. The Father gave us his Son to redeem us from our unbelief. As a parent, I’m not sure I have met any human for whom I would give my son. That’s just it. His love and action encompass what we are seeking through great achievements without sacrifice.
Finally, take Jesus out of the respect equation and what do we have? I don’t think It’s spelled, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. The end result is selfishness, blind ambition, avarice and any other word that can be used to define self-absorption.
Did you catch the elements Peter gave? Love, Fear and Honor were the big three. Of course, Paul said anything without love is like a sounding gong. Take a closer look. Respect…Donald Trump or Mother Teresa?

If you are a regular reader of this column you are aware that I go to great lengths avoiding political and controversial topics that generally leave many in a no win situation.  It is easy to tell which topics fall under this category.  Get a Facebook account and look for topics that end up with opinions that run from east to west, beach to mountaintop.  Those are the ones that have the power to end friendships and split a church.  For me, they aren’t worth the time and type.

The other problem is these issues tend to be ones that have opinions based on the all or none principle.  Either you agree 100% with someone or you are not worth the time of day.  Somehow in our culture we have lost respect at just about every level.  With the loss of respect we have lost the ability to listen and appreciate another persons view even if it does not align with mine.

Often these issues are wrapped tight with a right or left, conservative or liberal, democrat or republican agenda.  It doesn’t take long to get off the main point and follow a rabbit trail that leads to nowhere.  Our opinion is the trump card and we like to use it.  Those opinionated rabbit trails are dangerous journeys these days.  What’s worse is they seldom generate any productive change to a problem, social injustice or blight in our society.

I’m going to break the mold in the next few lines.  I have to.  I was told in ministry that certain events would catch me.  We deal a lot with death.  There would be the one death or funeral that would keep me up at night.  The same goes down the line.  Members would come and go but there would be the one loss that shakes my world.  It’s true.  It’s like God takes a moment in time to bring some things together causing us to see this world for what it is and often it is plain ugly.  For me this past week it’s the senseless murder of 17 students/faculty at a high school in Florida.  This one has my attention.

I prayed last Sunday, “Lord I’m tired of kids killing kids.”  I’am truly tired of this.  At this point I use great caution.  I don’t want to make this a political issue.  I don’t want this to be a whimsical Christian motto or trite answer either.  So where do we start?

It starts with a broken heart.  When the news broke my heart literally hurt.  It hurt for kids who lost their lives, kids who witnessed it, parents in a state of terror and it hurt for the broken young man who somehow decided he would kill innocent people to medicate his own hurt and pain.  There was no moment of peace in my heart.  A truly Christian response begins with brokenness.  Life has been broken for a long time and it will be broken into the future.  Are we broken?

There are no pat answers that solves the problem.  I’ve heard rants about gun control, mental illness, respect, a faithless society and broken homes.  All are true.  The danger is to throw a token response to quell the fury thinking a little water on the forest fire douses the flames.  It’s worse for the Christian community to go silent.

I have heard that the Christian community has the answer.  His name is Jesus.  Again somewhat true.  However, mentally ill, broken Christians are just as capable of reaping death and destruction as a non-believer.  The power of depravity is very strong.  St. Francis of Assisi was known for his attitude of being an influence for Christ beyond mere words and trite prayers.  The Christian community to St. Francis was to fill the gap, respond beyond political and denominational correctness.

Can the Christian community address the gun issue?  Are we assisting with those who are mentally ill?  Do we even look out for anyone in church and the community who is burdened and breaking?  Do we honor our parents and respect our authorities when we disagree with them?  I use the word “respect.”  It involves more then being non-committal.  Do we purpose to minister in our broken homes and communities being a strong influence in fatherless and motherless homes or do we just rant about causes and bad decisions?  Do the broken want to attend your church or is it a place for the outwardly successful?

Jesus is the answer.  The only problem is he calls the Christians to not only have the answer but to be the literal answer.  Check out Matthew 25:31 – 46.  Our other choice is to be like the mass media; wait till the event loses its punch, let our spiritual ADD kick in, and go about our merry lives until the next time the broken  world reaps death and destruction on the masses.  Just as long as it doesn’t happen to me.