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Intersection of Life and Faith

Are You Building Respect in Your Relationships?

  • Deborah J. Thompson Crosswalk.com Contributor
  • 2012 3 Mar
  • COMMENTS
Are You Building Respect in Your Relationships?

Respect is an important component in any mutually beneficial relationship whether it is marital, friendship, family or business. Fortunately, you have the power to build respect by the way in which you conduct your life.

Ask yourself, Whose opinions do I value most? The people you love, or those for whom you feel a sense of respect? We can love people without respecting them. But we are less likely to listen to them, take their advice, and to highly regard and honor their viewpoints if we don't respect them.

Take a quick inventory of the people in your life you respect. Now analyze why you respect them. I would venture to say they probably share many of the following characteristics:

1. They keep their word. They are honorable, dependable, trustworthy people who don't lie, even if the truth is sometimes hard to hear. They don't cheat or steal in their business or personal lives. Their word is their bond, so they don't make promises lightly and will spare no effort to fulfill their commitments.

2. They practice restraint. They don't lose their tempers, scream, yell or strike out against others when things aren't going their way. They don't over-indulge in alcohol, gambling or exhibit other obsessive behaviors. And when the inevitable negative things in life happen to them, they maintain a positive outlook, knowing that our peace and joy are determined by how we handle both.

3. They guide, teach and lead by example. They have an innate sense of right and wrong and always strive to stay on the proper side of "right." They keep their egos in check and while they may be self-assured, they are not self-centered. They are confident without being "cocky," and seem to have a healthy sense of their place in the universe. And while they may not be overtly religious, their spirituality is still evident. They know there is a God and they are not him!

4. They don't give up easily. They are not afraid of failure and have the courage and stamina to keep doing what they know is right, even if it is unpopular or not immediately successful. They don't let fear dictate their actions and they don't allow setbacks to halt their progress.

5. They admit when they are wrong. They take responsibility for their actions and don't try to blame others or the circumstances. They forgive easily and say, "I'm sorry" just as easily.

6. They show compassion and respect for others. They know how to "agree to disagree," and even if someone's behavior is not worthy of respect, they find a way to share their wisdom without demeaning the other person.

7. They never stop learning. They aren't lazy and will continually strive to keep themselves up-to-date on current events, technology, changes within their field and other activities that may interest them. Consequently, their wisdom comes from knowledge and experience among multiple topics and is therefore fresh, well-informed and contemporary. While education/experience from years ago may still be relevant, knowing that they don't "rest on their laurels" imparts a deeper level of believability and enhances their reliability.

8. They have their priorities in the right order. They are hard workers, but their jobs do not rule their lives and neither does their quest for money. They know that money doesn't make people happy and they strive to cultivate rich, nurturing and loyal relationships, which are more important to them than bank accounts. Whether they are wealthy or have limited financial resources, they cherish and appreciate the real assets of their lives — blessings that no amount of money can buy.

Now that you have identified why you respect certain people in your life, it is time to turn the mirror on yourself. Would others use these traits to describe you?

If you want to have a positive influence on your family, friends, spouse, children, and co-workers then it is up to you to adopt these characteristics. No matter how much others may love you and have fun being with you, they will never take you seriously if they don't respect you and your point of view. In order to have any credibility, you must purposely direct your thoughts, words and actions towards becoming the kind of person others can rely upon to impart worthwhile counsel.

Think about it. If your life does not exemplify values that are important to others, then why should they respect you, listen to you, seek your advice or value your opinion?

Respect in Parenting

Parents often complain that their children don't honor their teachings. Yes, kids will go through naturally rebellious stages in the process of determining who they want to be as individuals. But those parents who are the most successful at guiding their children through the difficult phases of growing up are the ones who manage to instill respect in their kids from an early age.

Think about the educators from your past who you value the most now. Chances are, they were the ones who maintained the important boundaries between teacher and student. They weren't the easiest teachers, and you couldn't "skate" through their class. They challenged you to rise about "adequate." They nurtured, coached and encouraged you to live up to your potential, demonstrating that they cared about you and supported you -- but they weren't your "friend." Your children may not always agree with you, but you are more likely to be viewed as a credible source of information if they respect you and the example you set for them. And they are more likely to return to your teachings as they grow older if they have reverence for you and the life you model for them.

Respect in Marriage

Marital difficulties repeatedly arise when couples do not respect one another. Infidelity, rudeness, insensitivity, thoughtlessness and other discourteous and destructive behaviors would not occur if sincere respect and genuine regard for one another were present.

Think about the couples you admire most. They speak to each other in loving tones. They don't embarrass or demean the other. They are warm, tender, even-tempered, and forgiving. The respect they show one another is visibly apparent to anyone in their presence.

Respect in the Workplace

Consider the bosses and co-workers you look up to and appreciate. They expect you to do your job, work hard and be a productive member of the team. Yet, they are pleasant, considerate, respectful people. They can point out your mistakes without humiliating you. They don't discredit you when you are not around. They share their knowledge generously, guiding and teaching with patience, understanding and compassion.

Regardless of the association you share with others, respect is the cornerstone of any truly successful relationship. Therefore, if you want to foster prosperous, thriving connections and set a good example for those who share your world, perhaps you would be wise to embody the characteristics that will help you develop and mature into a person who garners not only love and acceptance but respect as well. Some say, "With age comes wisdom" but remember — that only works if you embrace and incorporate what you learn along the way!

"Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance." ~ Titus 2:2

Deborah J. Thompson is a writer, artist and Stephen Minister. Her articles are published by Crosswalk.com and "The Fish" family of Christian radio station websites around the country. She shares "Reflections" on life and marriage on her website, www.inspiredreflections.info. She is working on her first book, Your Life, Your Choice, which gives 5 simple steps to harness the power of your choices and bring more love, joy and peace into your life. Join her on  Facebook and Twitter/InspireReflect.