"show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor." i peter 2:17
"always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. but do this with gentleness and respect." -i peter 3:15
"a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." -proverbs 15:1
as a child one of my mentors taught me that respect is defined by the object. thus, you respect a man or woman when they respect you.
as you can imagine, this advice, when combined with my contrarian nature, led to constant conflicts with adults and authority figures. when my friend's meddlesome mother encouraged me to help my mom clean up after supper, i asked who gave her the right to tell me what to do. likewise, when an art teacher chided me in fourth grade, i decided to make her lunch duty a little slice of hell by organizing a student sit out. i could go on, but you get the idea.
i'd love to say that God, the Holy Spirit or scripture turned my act around and taught me that respect is a loving act that one extends regardless of the integrity of the object, but that simply would not be true. instead, i learned respect over the past year and a half as i've persuaded, begged and pleaded middle managers at the local market basket and supervisors at walgreens to give my students an opportunity to transition into the workplace. as a beggar you learn pretty quick that if you're asking an employer about an opening, "sir" or "ma'am" is a far more welcome introduction than "hello chris" or "hi nancy." the more formal my language got, and the more southern twang i slipped in, the more successful my cold calls were and the more convinced i became that the road to relationship is paved by respect.
tonight, as i stumbled across the scriptures above, i was reminded of this basic lesson that took me 30 years to learn and i've wrote it down more to remind myself than to instruct others. i readily admit that i still struggle with popping off to cops and when i slide into southern speak you'd best put your boots on, but i'm learning that respecting others is close to the holy and hidden heart of life.