Jul 092012
 

The word “respect” gets thrown around frequently. Respect your elders. Respect your parents. Respect your pastor. Respect anyone in authority.

But I’m convinced that we’ve radically misunderstood the concept of respect.

According to the dictionary, when used as a verb, respect means “to hold in esteem or honor” or “to show regard or consideration for.”

Respect does not mean:

  • Not asking questions
  • Not holding someone accountable
  • Accepting everything at face value

A while back I wrote a post about the importance of allowing our kids to disagree. And I’m disheartened by how often I hear parents discourage their kids from (respectfully) disagreeing or questioning.

But where I become even more distraught is when I see this happening in the church. My husband is a pastor. And yes, he knows a lot about the Bible. And he is one of the godliest men I know. But he is fallible. He’s been wrong before and he’ll be wrong again.

But that’s okay because the Bible doesn’t tell us to rely solely on our spiritual leaders for guidance. As a matter of fact, people in Scripture are noted for verifying the information they received with the Word of God.

“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11, NIV).

Only God and His Word are infallible.

I like the quote in the picture above because it mentions respecting those who have died while fighting for the truth. If dying for the truth is respectable, than living for the truth is certainly respectable.

Some of the most respectful things we can do include asking sincere and difficult questions, holding others accountable and refusing to accept everything at face value.

Let’s remember this the next time we are tempted to imply that disagreement equals disrespect.

Photo Credit

 

 Posted by at 12:01 am

  7 Responses to “What does respect really look like?”

  1. Very thoughtful post, Steph. Good points.

  2. I just want to say, yeah, exactly! Give folks space to think for themselves.
    My daughter’s boyfriend is a pastor’s son who’s recently become atheist because he can’t reconcile creationism with evolution. I try to tell his mother it’ll be ok. He’ll come around in his own time.

    • We went to Bible school with friends who became atheists for various reasons.

      “Some of the most respectful things we can do include asking sincere and difficult questions, holding others accountable and refusing to accept everything at face value.” And we have to allow others to do this as well even if they arrive at conclusions we disagree with. Of course it’s acceptable to lovingly and respectfully push back with our own questions.

      It must be hard for his mom. I would have a very hard time if my daughter was an atheist. At the same time, I know it hasn’t been easy for our questioning friends to struggle through their thoughts and beliefs – especially when their Christian friends and family ostracized them instead of loving them.

  3. Love this post. It is so easy I think for people to fall into the pattern of assuming that disagreement equals disrespect, especially when someone is disagreeing with a leader, teacher, parent, or elder. It is really difficult to lovingly (and calmly) explain to someone that just because I am challenging something they said, does not automatically make it disrespectful.

    • “just because I am challenging something they said, does not automatically make it disrespectful.”

      Exactly.

  4. [...] Taking responsibility for our actions models humility and respect. Our kids will learn the most from the example we set for [...]

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