Donald Miller said it best: “The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: life is a story about me.”
In the last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about what it means to respect others. Somebody recently accused me to being disrespectful. First of all, this made me super defensive because generally I don’t go around trying to disrespect people, so I did what every disrespectful person does- I made some excuses and started throwing darts, as if I was trying to prove that I was still a good person. Hello, news flash, I am not good (read: Mark 10:18). Secondly, my entire life I’ve struggled with boundaries- saying no to others, letting them say no to me, etc. Respect is a sore subject because I’m so, so tired of not being good at it. Do you ever have one thing that you struggle with that you try SO hard to be better at that when people criticize it you want to scream “Do you even KNOW how much blood, sweat, prayers, and tears have gone into getting better at that?!” I want to give myself credit and say, well, at least I’m not like I used to be. Unfortunately that only works if you want to stay where you are and continue to hurt other people.
I’m a firm believer in the fact that conflict with others is God’s way of trying to get us out of where we are. If you have a conflict even if you are convinced you are right, you better pay attention because God is probably trying to point out something in you that makes it hard for you to be who he wants you to be. Regardless of whether the conflict is even ever solved, you have got to look at the log in your own eye and quit worrying so much about the speck in the other person’s. Take criticism seriously.
I started thinking of people that I respect, or people I feel show me a lot of respect and what they do that makes me think of them that way. Here are some:
They listen well.
They give me space when I need it.
They pray for me.
They don’t offer advice unless I ask for it.
They encourage me in areas they know I struggle in.
They pay attention to what I say is not okay for them to do and they stop doing it.
They follow through with what they said they’d do.
They let me do what I want even if they disagree.
They express gratitude for me whether I do things for them or not.
They put themselves in my shoes and try to see things from my perspective.
They put my needs before their own, time and time again.
They consider me worth a lot just because I’m me.
Then I thought about what the Bible says about respect, and it turns out the best verse ever on this topic is a verse that my friend Dale who does ministry in England would talk about all the time…Genesis 1:27:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
When people talk about earning respect, I think of this verse, and how it doesn’t say you earn respect it says that we should automatically respect people because they’re made in the image of God. I read an awesome book called Love Without Agenda once, and it focused a lot on this verse and what it means to be made in the image of God. And how that in and of itself makes us valuable. Not what we do and whether or not it’s wrong or stupid, whether we agree with someone, or are nice to them, or thank them for what they did.
I’ve deeply wounded people because I’ve disrespected them. I want to believe I’m getting better, but I also want to believe that God isn’t leaving me at a place of mediocrity and though it wounds me and humbles me to admit, I need help. I need help seeing people through his eyes and treating every person as if they were Jesus’ favorite, because, guess what, they are. Can you imagine how the world would change if we really saw each other that way every time we talked to them? Better yet, every time we looked at them or even thought about them? It’s actually really hard to do that, but that’s why Jesus doesn’t leave us the way we are and intervenes when he needs to.