Wednesday, January 10, 2007
God meant for respect to be a blessing in our lives. A healthy respect and fear of the Lord helps us to draw close to him. It is our safeguard, keeping us from choosing paths that would destroy us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Likewise, respecting godly authority brings about peace. And, if those who are in authority respect the people they lead as being made in the image of God, that will prevent them from abusing the gift of leadership.
Sometimes, we have bad experiences in the realm of respect. Perhaps, we have been teased and disrespected by peers. Or, we have suffered at the hands of abusive authority. Or, we just plain old don't want to give up our will in a situation for the sake of something better.
Here's a thought from Raising Awesome Kids in Troubled Times: "Our position of honor and authority as parents is givng to us by God. Our authority does not come because we are perfect -- it is because God in his wisdom has arranged it this way. For our children to honor us is to show honor to God and his plan. As our children come to respect our authority, they elarn to respect God, hismelf; and, then, one day, when they are old enough, they will give God the ultimate honor of committing their whole lives to him."
To me, this is a key to respect. It's vital to understand that by respecting authority, we are actually demonstrating our trust in God. We trust that ultimately God is working everything out for our good and that he will take care of us. This is true, even if the authority in question may not have a character that is naturally worthy of respect. Of course, we must balance this by remembering that we must respectfully choose to obey God rather than follow a command or example that is ungodly.
By the same token, we may be reluctant to ask others to respect our leadership. This is particularly true of parents. We know our own weaknesses, and we know our children know our own weaknesses. Realizing that we are not perfect is a good thing, provided that we don't let it paralyze us. The key is to be open and honest about your struggles, but depend on God to help you make whatever decisions you need to make for the good of those you lead. After all, we may reluctantly buckle down under arrogant leadership, but we truly respect humble leadership from the heart.
The authors of Raising Awesome Kids say, "Sometimes, we as parents lack confidence in dealing with kids. We feel guilty and inadequate. We become tentative. We suggest, pead, argue, wheedle and cajole. Our children sense our self-doubt, and they become more and more defiant. They also become less secure because what they really want down inside is the confidence that comes from knowing where their limits are. They want us to put a fance around them -- a fence that tells them just how far they can go. We need to put up the fence and tell the kdis exactly where it is. They will try to run through it to see if it is real. LEt them hit it a few times. They will soon learn taht the fence is immovable but that within it they have total freedom and security. Then you will have respect!"