Earning the Respect Due You
THE lad standing upon the conductor’s podium was only ten years old, yet before him were assembled a hundred trained musicians, every one a virtuoso. Were they disgusted that the management had presumed to let a mere child conduct one of the world’s finest orchestras! They showed it by their disdainful, defiant facial expressions; some were even sucking lollipops to show their contempt.
But not for long. Once the lad lifted his baton and began the rehearsal, it was only a matter of minutes before those instrumental virtuosi were earnestly applying themselves to the business at hand. Ignored now was his being a mere child. What had caused their disdainful disrespect to change to deferential regard, to esteem, to respect? The lad’s ability, for he truly was a prodigy. He had the entire musical score in his head. More than that, he knew what to expect from each instrumentalist, for he could detect at once whenever any one of them played a wrong note. In spite of his age, he had what it took to be a conductor. Incidentally, that was some twenty years ago. Today Maazel is still conducting.
Not only orchestra conductors, but ever so many persons in everyday life are, by reason of their positions, entitled to respect, that is, added respect, for every honest individual is entitled to a measure of respect. In particular are parents and schoolteachers, overseers and ministers—to name but a few—entitled to respect. However, while these could depend solely upon their position or office, it is far better for all concerned when they truly earn the respect due them.
God’s Word, the Bible, throws light on this matter of earning respect, even as it does on every other aspect of life. Thus it tells us of angels not pursuing a certain course—out of respect for Jehovah God. No question about it, Jehovah, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, is entitled to the greatest respect of all his creatures.—2 Pet. 2:11.
In the Bible we also read of one of God’s creatures who at one time enjoyed great respect, namely, Job. As he himself tells us: “When I went forth to the gate by the town, . . . even the aged ones rose up, they stood. Princes themselves restrained words . . . The voice of the leaders themselves was hidden. . . . I was sitting as head; and I resided as a king.”—Job 29:7-10, 25.
And why was such great respect tendered Job? He himself tells us: “For I would rescue the afflicted one crying for help, and the fatherless boy and anyone that had no helper. With righteousness I clothed myself, and it was clothing me. My justice was like a . . . turban. And I would break the jawbones of the wrongdoer, and from his teeth I would tear away the prey.” More than that, Job goes on to enumerate all the selfish or wicked things he had not done. In short, as “the greatest of all the Orientals,” he “proved to be blameless and upright, and fearing God and turning aside from bad.” No question about it, Job earned the great respect that was tendered him.—Job 29:12, 14, 17; 1:1, 3; 31:5-40.
According to God’s Word, husbands are entitled to respect: “The wife should have deep respect for her husband.” The Hebrew patriarch Abraham was one husband who earned the respect of his wife, or she would not, even behind his back, have referred to him as “my lord.” Does your wife esteem you like that? How can you earn the respect of your wife? By being dependable, by being firm when need be, by being honest as regards your money, time and sex interest, by being generous, and, in particular, by showing loving, thoughtful consideration in things little and big; by heeding the counsel: “Husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with them according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.”—Eph. 5:33; Gen. 18:12; 1 Pet. 3:7.
So, too, parents are entitled to the respect of their children. “We used to have fathers . . . and we used to give them respect,” wrote the Christian apostle Paul. (Heb. 12:9) Do your children manifest such respect toward you? Do they listen when you speak to them, and not talk back? Even when they think that you are not watching, do they continue to speak and act in a way that shows respect? Even if you teach your children to be respectful, it calls for constant diligence on your part to counteract the influence of others who may associate with them in school but who may not have learned to respect their parents and others. Clearly, the answer does not lie in simply demanding respect from your children; you must also pursue a course that will win their respect. To do that you must be consistent in dealing with them; you must be impartial and reasonable, helping them to appreciate that there are sound reasons in back of the things you require of them. Be firm in administering discipline. It is also important to manifest self-control, because with loss of self-control goes loss of respect.
Such qualities as the foregoing are also required of those who would instruct others, such as schoolteachers and college professors. However, in addition, these must have sufficient knowledge of the subjects they teach if they would have the respect of their students. Respect flies out the window when students sense that the teacher is bluffing.
Among other positions of respect that might be considered is that of the Christian minister. If you are a minister of God, then, above all persons, you should be careful about your conduct; you should “have a fine testimony from people on the outside.” And like other educators, you must have a fund of accurate knowledge if you would preach and teach authoritatively and convincingly. Only by meeting these requirements can you expect to receive the respect due you.—1 Tim. 3:7; 4:16.
No question about it; although your position might entitle you to respect, it is better for all concerned if you earn it as well by your qualities, attainments and course of action.