What is your feeling when you hear this topic? Roll your eyes and say, “Yeah! THAT sure is lacking in our culture?” Or, “Yeah, I’d like to get more respect!” Whatever your feelings, you probably would have to agree that showing respect for others is something necessary to a good life, whether you are an adult or a child.
Parents who do not teach their children to be respectful are doing them no favors. They may think they are raising independent thinkers, but those who do not know how to work under authority have serious problems all their lives. They frequently struggle to hold a job. They move from situation to situation rather than staying and working things out. I have found that people who are perpetually needy or even homeless have this lack of respect for authority in common.
So what should we respect? What does proper respect look like?
#1 Respect for parents and those in authorityRomans 13: 1-5 says we are to be subject to civil authorities. These structures are put in place by God. It says this proper alignment with authority structures is part of having a good conscience.
Parents must model this for children by showing respect for the authorities over them. Bosses, police officers, and government officials can be the subject of complaints, gossip and even downright slander. We can express our disagreement with policies of our President or Congress without being disrespectful.
I Peter 2:17 says “Show proper respect for everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” This follows verse 16 which talks about living as free people. Respect goes with freedom!
Children are to honor parents. (See the Ten Commandments.) Children are to obey parents. (Ephesians 6:1) If they do not learn to obey you, how will they ever obey God? If they do not respect your authority, how will they respect and obey at school or work after they are grown. Work on these patterns while they are young and moldable.
This is not to say they should be mindless robots. After they obey, it is good to discuss the reason “why” you asked them to do certain things. Help them see how good it is for them to do what you ask. Let them discuss things with you. Do not ask older children for blind obedience. Explain why, not by way of justifying your existence, but helping them think at higher levels.
Teach children that it is okay to question authority in a respectful manner. Not to be confused with arguing with authority, they may ask for clarification on a matter. If they have further information that has not come to light, they can bring that to the discussion. But they must accept that in the end, the authority has the right to settle the matter with their decision. Young children (under 8 or so) should obey first, and get explanations afterward.
Everyone is under someone’s authority. There is no such thing as 100% independence.
#2 Respect for God’s creationI’m not a tree hugger, but I do see our responsibility as stewards and viceroys of God’s creation to rule it, subdue it, and make it fruitful. We cannot destroy the environment we live in and expect to live well in it. None of us wants dirty water or barren polluted land to dwell in.
First, we should be grateful that God gave us a beautiful place to live. Is. 45:18 talks about how God formed it and did not create it to be a worthless waste. We could be living on the moon! Yikes!
That said, creation is meant to be enjoyed. It is not meant to be preserved separate from human touch. It is not sacred in itself. It is not to be worshipped. (Ro. 1:25)
As good stewards, we can leave it better for our children and our grandchildren than it was when we received it.
More on respect tomorrow...