Many men want to be respected. I think that it’s a fundamental need of men, and to show a man disrespect may trigger anything from his losing self-esteem to him punching you in the jaw (not that a follower of Jesus should do either of those!).
To obtain respect, many guys find ways that force people to respect them. Whether a man becomes a high-level manager (and misses no opportunity to remind those who are reporting that he’s the boss), filthy rich (and lets people know it), or builds up enough biceps to arm-wrestle a bear (and shows then shows them off), his situation commands a certain kind of respect – because of position, status, or intimidation.
However, for someone who demands respect from others – in a manner like this – the respect shown to his face often turns to resentment and ridicule when he leaves the room.
I was reminded of this difference by my brother-in-law one day. I was commenting on how his new title would require others (in his organization) to show him respect, but he reminded me, “The best respect is the kind you earn.”
As a husband or father, it can be easy to demand respect from our families. After all, we could quote verses from the Bible (out of context, of course) to command our wives to submit, or we can play the “while you’re under my roof” card with our kids. That kind of behavior might win an argument, but when we earn the respect of our family members, we no longer have to “win”, because we’ve earned the right to ask for something or to impart instruction…without offending the other person.
As a good example, consider the Roman centurion Cornelius. Read Acts 10:1-8, and verse 22. Cornelius was a man who could have (and probably did) easily demanded respect from his soldiers, but he had earned the respect of those not under his command.
Consider this week how you can earn – rather than demand – respect from others. This may be harder, but the kind of respect that you get is worth the investment.
A version of this devotion originally appeared at http://fcccanton.com/respect/, as a Study Guide for the March 8, 2015 message, “The Role of the Man in a Family”. Reprinted here by permission.