1 Peter 2:17 – “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”
We live in a completely irreverent age, don’t we? Everyone has an opinion, and now most of us have the means to express it on a large scale, thanks to social media. Public personas and authority figures are popular fodder for ridicule and disrespect more than ever before. With a push of a button, we can easily destroy someone with our words and/or images, and then bask in the adoration of sarcastic “friends” or fans clicking Like as they join the fray from the safety of their home computers or phones.
We are always in a hurry. We shoot off a text with quick statements and become impatient when we actually have to wait to speak to someone, or listen as they speak to us. We want immediate answers, quick results and no-muss-no-fuss interactions.
While the decline of common courtesy in human interactions may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it is, because it represents the deterioration of part of our human condition.
All of us have a deep-seated need to feel worthy. One of the most effective ways to show another person you view them as someone of worth is through respect – of their time, their energy, their opinion, their gifts, their presence, their role in your life, their contribution….feel free to add more to the list.
Manners matter….because they show the people around us that they are worth respect and caring.
I have a dear friend who, several years ago, called to check on me after the birth of one of my children. As we were chatting on the phone, I walked into the living room and asked my husband to please turn the television down (a constant conversation in our house) since the baby was finally sleeping and I was desperate for that condition to continue. I used a gentle voice, a term of endearment of some sort, and the words “please” and “thank you” specifically. The reason this story sticks so vividly in my memory comes from my friend’s reaction. She had know Gregg and I throughout college, and after my request to him, she started laughing.
“I can’t believe you still talk to him like that after all these years”, she exclaimed, “I don’t remember the last time I spoke to my husband that way. I just yell at him to turn the thing down and move on.”
Sadly, I received a call from her a year later that she and her husband were getting divorced. It broke my heart for her….and for him.
I’m not saying that my friend’s marriage fell apart because she didn’t ask her husband to turn the TV down nicely enough. The thing is, that example, and her acceptance of a lack of graciousness as their communication norm, was the outward manifestation of an inner problem.
Left unchecked, lack of respect will eventually destroy a relationship.
This is true for marriages, friendships, parent and sibling ties as well.
Think of someone in your life who treats you with respect and cordiality. How does this make you feel? What kind of interactions do you have with this person? What in particular do they do that makes you feel respected or important to them?
Matthew 7:12 – So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
How well do you do this? Are you making it a point to treat others the way you would like to be treated? Do you take the time and make the effort to show them they matter?
List three action steps for this week to use for improvement in this area. They can be simple, such as:
- Be intentional about having a focused conversation without interruptions/distractions from your cell phone (nothing says, “I don’t really have any interest in what you’re saying” like someone who checks their phone or answers e-mails or looks at Facebook while you’re talking to him/her)
- Begin a conversation with “How are you today?” and then listen for the answer before getting down to business (this is so effective in a work place environment, and makes a huge difference, I promise).
- Say “thank you”….for everything.
- Ask another person for his/her opinion….and then actually consider it. Come back to them in the next day or few days with a question or comment about it.
You may have other ideas that are more effective than these for your life and circumstances. That’s great. Use them, liberally and frequently. I bet you’ll be amazed at the result.
Solidarity, sisters. Aretha knows….