Is Respect Earned or Given?

Is Respect Earned or Given? February 7, 2014

Perhaps I’m just a curmudgeonly old guy now, but it seems to me that people are just not as respectful as they used to be. Much of our culture believes that you do not have any obligation to respect someone unless or until they respect you first. It is a twisted vision of biblical respect. First Peter 2:17 says, “Show proper respect to everyone.” It doesn’t say show proper respect if and only if they respect you in the way you think you deserve to be respected. It says to respect everyone because everyone was created in the image of God.

Maybe I’m the only one outraged and deeply disturbed by this downward shift in our cultural value system. But it does seem that young people are less respectful than my generation was. They seem to have a perverted concept of what constitutes respect. Many young men today believe they should be respected before they will offer respect. The fallacy in this philosophy is that true respect is earned, not bestowed. When I was young, I would not have even considered being disrespectful to an adult, especially one in a position of authority. Additionally, if I had gotten in trouble in school, I would have suffered not only disciplinary actions from the school, but I would have been punished twice as bad when I got home. I can tell you from talking to and working with teachers, coaches, police officers, and parents that our children are for the most part very disrespectful toward any kind of authority.

This disrespect for authority (parents, teachers, police, etc.) creates a lack of integrity because they have no accountability in their lives. Young men without accountability have no need to be dependable, honest, or trustworthy in their words or actions. Why should they? No one else seems to care.

Teaching boys proper manners is a good start to teaching them to respect themselves and others.  Manners and politeness are really just showing respect for other people, even those you do not know.   Teach your son the dictionary definition of respect, than look for opportunities help him be respectful in a variety of settings.  Most of all, remember that a son best learns respect by observing his father show respect.  And a son whose father respects him is more likely to want to respect his father.  Boys who’s mothers respect them learn to respect all women.

Question:  In what ways are you being intentional about being respectful to your son?

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