Sunday, August 31, 2008
Giving Honor to Whom Honor is Due and Teaching Your Children To Do So...
Have you ever struggled with giving the proper respect to someone whose role warrants it, but whose personal conduct doesn't -- at least in your opinion? Maybe, you had a hard time honoring a teacher who was boring or harsh or hypocritical. Perhaps, you've been tempted to disobey a parent, because you thought that you - in all of your young years -- had more wisdom about a certain matter. Or, maybe, the mention of a particular political leader's name gets your blood boiling, because you think he's damaging your city, your state, or your country. Or, you are certain that dear hubby is way off base in a particular way he's leading your family.
I think we've all had a moment or two when we've struggled with something this. In some cases, we deal with this because of our own prideful bent toward rebellion and wanting to be in control ourselves. In some cases, the person in question really is failing in their character or their duty. In some cases, both are true: the person in question is falling short and we are, too.
On the other hand, have you ever been in a position of leadership, only to find yourself the object of unjust criticism? Have you ever had people pick at your motives, your ability, and your judgment? Or, have you ever been in charge of pulling a group to work together in unity, when each person in the group has her own very strong opinions? If so, you have experienced the flip side of this leadership dilemma. You've probably longed for people to give you a little grace and to be grateful for the hard work you are doing, even if you aren't living up to everyone's expectations.
I have been thinking about this because of some blog comments I read recently. A particular author's work was under discussion. It was noted that this author often portrayed parents who were absent, indifferent, or otherwise flawed. Yet, the children in these books -- many of whom had their own set of weaknesses -- showed honor to their parents. They did so not necessarily because the parents deserved it in their own right, but because it was the honorable thing to do.
This also comes to mind because we are in an election year in the U.S.. In the past few years, we've seen people bash our country and our sitting president while abroad, and we've seen candidates bash each other. I'm grateful that in most cases the debate has been civil. Still, we've all seen how ugly politics can get.
Giving honor to whom honor is due out of respect for the person's role is somewhat foreign to our modern way of thinking. I remember a time when we had to help one of our children follow through with a teacher's assignments, even though the child could not see the point in doing them. To be honest, I don't remember whether or not the assignments themselves were all that helpful. However, our child needed to learn the valuable lesson that there is good discipline in following through with assignments. After all, we may not always understand why bosses, teachers, and other leaders ask us to do something. Yet, we shine when we obey with a cheerful and respectful attitude.
Now, I'm not saying that we should blindly follow someone just because that person has a certain position. Nor, am I saying that that we should agree to do something we believe is wrong. We need to have courage of conviction and teach our children to have the same when it comes to being asked to do something sinful or dishonest. After all, Paul said, "We must obey God rather than men."
If someone is abusing their position or is floundering because they are ill-equipped to fulfill their role, we may deem it necessary to do what we can to make the situation better. For example, we once removed our children from a school once because we felt that the atmosphere was harming our children. Other ways we might work with a difficult leader are to respectfully tell the truth about what we see, vote when applicable, pray for someone, talk things out, etc. Or, we may find that it's best to wait patiently. Discerning whether to act or wait takes prayer.
The key is our attitude. Attitudes that hamper us all are being judgmental, quick to criticize, stubborn, fearful, and uncooperative. Attitudes that benefit us all are respect, speaking truthfully yet wisely and kindly, cooperation, gratitude, and faith that God is ultimately at work for good. Our lives and the lives of our children are blessed when we give proper honor to parents and leaders.