The Ultimate Definition of Respect
By Karen Wolff
As a parent I can surely tell you that when your kids don't show you respect it is really hard not to want to ground them until they're 30. At least. We all try to instill the importance of honoring authority into our kids. Yet, we all have more than a little trouble honoring the authority that's over our own lives.
Remember the old saying, "Do what I say, not what I do"?
We all want it. We all expect it. Yet, we want others to earn it from us. How is that supposed to work?
The truth is, God has an entire network of people in this world who He's placed in positions of authority. I'm not just referring to our government leaders, but also to the leaders in our workplaces and in our families. Perhaps it's time to take a look at just how God views authority and our lack of respect
Coming under authority and showing respect isn't easy. Nobody wants to be told what to do or how to do it. We criticize anybody that makes a decision that we don't like. It's not right. It's not fair. It's not good for me.
In our country we've taken our right to free speech to an unbelievable level. We openly criticize our leaders, our country, our values, and pretty much anything else that doesn't line up with what we want. We don't see anything wrong with complaining, whining, and showing disgust to anybody that will listen.
An open dialogue about how to solve issues is always a good thing. But some of have even categorized their poor behavior as their attempt at "open dialogue". There is much to learn about how God views these kinds of situations.
When you are in relationship with God, He provides you with protection and favor. But as you belittle and criticize those who He's placed in authority over you, that protection and favor is lifted from you. The bottom line is that God expects you to respect Him and His choices. He expects that you will respect the people He's placed in authority over you. That doesn't mean you have to agree with every one of their decisions, but it does mean you still need to show respect for the position, and by extension, the person who's in the position.
Do you want to? Probably not. Would you rather REALLY tell them what you think about it? Yup. So how do you go about this seemingly impossible task? How do you submit to and show respect for the authority God's placed over you when you don't agree with them, AND have a good attitude while you're doing it?
1. Start by reading and learning what God says about respecting authority. Find out just what He thinks and how much importance He places on your willingness and your attitude about it. When you discover that God will only give you authority over others when you show that you can come under authority yourself, perhaps things will look a little different to you.
2. Pray for those in authority over you. Ask God to guide them as they fulfill their tasks. Pray that their hearts would seek God as they make decisions. As God to show you how you can be a blessing to those in authority over you.
3. Set the example for the people around you. Show them what submitting to authority for the right reasons is supposed to look like. Don't participate in back-biting, gossiping about, or criticizing your bosses or others in authority. There is nothing wrong with having constructive conversations, but there is a fine line between offering your opinion and becoming disrespectful.
4. Understand and know ahead of time that you are NOT going to like every decision. If you look at the responsibility and accountability that exists for your leaders, it should become clear that the scope of their authority affects more than just you and your circumstances. There are times when decisions will negatively impact you. But just remember that how you react to these times will determine how quickly God puts you in a position of authority over others.
There is no magic pill that can make you feel good about having to submit to authority. Any authority. But knowing that when you make the conscious effort to do what God says, regardless of how it feels, you are planting a wonderful seed that will produce a harvest in your life.
You can't expect a harvest of blessings where people respect and honor you if you haven't first planted the seeds. So as hard as it is, start planting!
Here's a great resource that offers more help
in this important area.
Karen Wolff is the founder of
, a place for women to find info, tips, and help with issues like overcoming fear, jealousy, and building self esteem. Find Christian book reviews and recommendations, and "Print & Pray" prayers to help you in many areas of your life.
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