respect – the condition of being esteemed or honored
I’ve been thinking about my ability to offer respect to another person. I’m reminded that our culture puts a premium on productivity, on a person’s willingness and ability to “put out” something substantive with their time, talents, and initiative.
Not surprisingly then, my criteria for offering respect is attached to that cultural value. I might say, “Do something worthy of respect and I will respect you.” The keyword, of course, being do.
I’m pondering this in the first place because I’ve been studying a now 1600-year-old personality profiling. It purports 4 general dispositions, one of which is The Phlegmatic (fleg-matic). The Phlegmatic is a peaceful and fairly passive-natured person. They are not easily engaged but extremely steadfast once they come on board. They are the steady-as-she-goes folks that you really want around when others are in conflict. They are measured and careful. You feel safe and steady with a healthy phlegmatic.
Interestingly, one of the Phlegmatic’s core emotional needs is for respect. And they might put it this way, “Respect me for who I am, not for what I do.” That request is nearly inconceivable for non-phlegmatic’s. We wait for a reason to respect, while they declare it already exists.
That’s where I stop and turn to the Lord for instruction, and He does not teach me something new but reminds me of something I learned (still learning) long ago.
God places the highest premium possible upon a person simply by virtue of their existence. He created them, therefore they are inherently valuable. Further, they reflect in some unique way, an aspect of Creator God. For this reason alone, a person is worthy of my respect. When I offer it, I am paying homage to God first, acknowledging the beauty of His handiwork.
For people with dispositions that need to “achieve” to feel self-worth, this is a little hard to embrace, but we would do well to wrestle a bit with the tension. God does not wait until I “achieve” to ascribe value to me. He does that before I gain any skill-set; before I utilize any talent; before I do anything “worthy.” It also bears peeking at the other side of this coin… that in God’s eyes, my intrinsic value does NOT increase in any measure as a result of my productivity.
Imagine having the temerity to stand in opposition to I AM, by declaring that someone He made has no inherent value, therefore no cause to receive my respect.
“Wonderful are Your works;
my soul knows it very well.”
As someone who struggles with only feeling worthy if I am doing something, I was blessed by this reminder of my own worth in Christ. Luv you, Anne!
Anne, thank you for sharing your deep thoughts with us! I always enjoy your writing. You have a way of getting the wheels in my head turning. Now, I’d like to hear more about this 2000 year old personality profiling you’ve been studying. 😉
Although basic, and true, why is it that our enemy continues to succeed in his lies to humanity about the inherent value of each and every human being? After all these years, should we not have figured that one out?!
This truth you so aptly deliver here landed in my heart when I bought a house with a big yard full of dandelions. I decided to do some research about weeds, when I came across this statement: “There really are no weeds, only misplaced plants!”
That statement began to do a work in my mind and heart not only about plants but about all that God has created – most importantly his prize creation, people. That was 20 years ago. Yet today, whenever I see a dandelion…
Annie, I love how your cogitations sometimes affirm things I had learned and other times cause a paradigm shift in my thinking.
If logic was all we required to follow Jesus’s lead, we ought to be trailblazing at lightening speed. We lack, not for logic, but for humility. We set a standard as to the measure and criteria for what is valuable. Of course that bar moves all the time. What we used to hold as a treasured thing we might now regard as having no value whatsoever. But God defines it for us and it never changes. We have to hold to that. We have to turn a deaf ear to culture…which of course is predominately influenced by our adversary. Intrinsic value, defined by God…that’s our standard.
Writing about giving or withholding respect on the first pass seems so basic. Yet, what struck me is that because it is so basic, that is where God wants to grow us, in the places we don’t think we need any attention or focus or examination. Challenging stuff. Love you! XO mb <
As always, this is so good Anne. I found the following in a book I was looking through this week:
Billy Graham once said, “God measures people by the small dimensions of humility and not by the bigness of their achievements or the size of their capabilities.”
Love how you broke this down Anne. You are a treasure!
Nancy – that was a worthy quote you shared by Mr. G!