My one word for 2014: Blessing
Respect is a word often misused in our vocabulary and unfortunately it is commonly demanded from people who are the least deserving of it.
Let’s find out what respect really means, at least according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:
“: a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.
: a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way
: a particular way of thinking about or looking at something”
“: high or special regard: (esteem)
b : the quality or state of being esteemed”
I have worked in my share of low-paying, toxic, and unethical places of employment where supervisors and managers have demanded “respect” from employees. I have also seen a few pastoral staff and Christian leaders in the community demand respect from people. Respect is important, but as I like to say, ‘If you have to demand respect, you don’t deserve respect.’ The conclusion I’ve made is that people often confuse respect for subordination. What they really should be saying is, ‘You are not being subordinate to me’ or ‘you are being insubordinate’.
“a bending to the authority or control of another”
“: in a position of less power or authority than someone else
: less important than someone or something else”
This discussion about subordination and respect has had to take place between myself and several staff in the workplace. These were supervisors and managers who had placed me in a situation where my safety was at risk; it was also a workplace that had numerous complaints made about bullying and harassment at the hands of those we were subordinate to. Eventually almost all of these managers were fired. In the end it didn’t make a difference in my life because I am still struggling with a work related injury that resulted from my managers’ bullying, harassment and violation of labour laws.
We need to respect the work that we do, we need to respectful towards the customers and clients that we serve, but when management starts demanding respect, I automatically question why these managers need to demand respect instead of having been freely given it by their staff. In the workplace I will be polite, kind, cooperative, a team player, and all the other adjectives and characteristics that make for a healthy workplace, but I can honestly say that I won’t freely admire and look up to a manager. I certainly wouldn’t recommend sharing these values with a manager; that would be a ridiculous thing to do and could likely lead to bad manager-employee relations and at worst, the loss of your job.
I would caution people in using the word respect without fully knowing the meaning of the word and whether or not you are actually deserving of the act of being respected. If you demand that people respect you, you are more likely not to be respected by them.
Instead of demanding and trying to force people to respect you, let us remember this:
Romans 12: 3-20 (From BibleGateway)
Humble Service in the Body of Christ
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.