Most people—and I’m guessing given how things are in the world—think respect has to be earned. You don’t like your boss because he’s a bad leader, so you don’t respect him. Which then leads you to bad mouth him to others.
Maybe you had horrible parents who had no idea what they were doing and didn’t care to learn. You didn’t respect them. They did nothing to earn your respect. So you lashed out at every opportunity.
Perhaps you have a husband who really doesn’t seem to care about your needs. He doesn’t show you love. You don’t respect him at all, and he pretty much knows it.
The truth is, though, that we are called to give people respect whether they deserve it or not. Not matter who they are, no matter what they have or haven’t done, no matter if they agree with us or not.
People are image bearers of God, and we are to be respectful of them.
What does respectful behavior look like?
It looks like listening and finding out people’s stories before drawing a conclusion about them.
It looks like looking people in the eye when you pass them on the street or encounter them anywhere you happen to be.
It looks like remembering someone’s name because it shows you see them.
There has been a lot of hullaballoo about respect in light of the NFL players protest during the National Anthem. Many have said that’s disrespectful. In fact, some have been absolutely vitriolic in their condemnation of such actions.
But those who have taken the time to listen to some of the stories can understand the frustration that is felt by some of these men.
And really, if you’re not in the military, you can’t speak for those who are. I have a friend whose husband is in the military, and he didn’t feel disrespected by those actions. Others have.
I remember an incident that happened several years ago at the school where I worked. I was encouraging the daughter of a friend to tease her dad about making her late for school because of his struggle getting out the door on time. In my household, that would have been OK. But her mom called me later and told me that in their household, her daughter speaking to her father in that manner would be considered disrespectful. I got that. And I apologized. I can’t expect every family to interact the way my family does.
In the same way, not everyone would find certain actions disrespectful. Some would feel any variance from the strict code regarding the flag would be disrespectful. You don’t wear the flag as clothing. You don’t let it touch the ground, and so on. But they would understand that some people have been disrespected by the authorities in their country, and though they love their country, they want things to change.
You don’t slam another person’s religion.
You don’t criticize how another person raises their kids.
You don’t presume that every homeless person is an addict.
Being respectful means being mindful that every person deserves dignity just because they’re a person.
And people come before institutions.