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.”