Yesterday I mentioned in my sermon about teaching respect to our children. THis is hard to teach becasue our culture is all over the idea of unconditional love, but unconditional respect is almost treated as something unethical. In fact, I believe one of the most overlooked areas of preaching in America today is giving unconditional respect to God.
The Bible says repeatedly that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. When God presence is made known to man they are commanded to show unconditional respect by taking off their shoes or lying prostrate on the ground. We often forget that God deserves our unconditional respect.
In our culture we think of respect as something you must earn, not something you give unconditionally. We don’t have a system of honor in our culture- like they did and do in the Middle East. In our culture we will sacrifice our honor and dignity to make money (Johnny Knoxville anyone?). In Middle Eastern countries you would sacrifice money and wealth to gain honor. The idea of unconditional respect is a foreign in our culture.
However, your child needs it. They need to be respected as your child, as a creation of God, and valued by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In our culture, we show unconditional respect to something we deem is of high value- this could be an object (Babe Ruth baseball) or a person (a billionaire). They have respect because of their high value. The reason your child deserves unconditional respect is because of the high value God has placed on your child. God gave his own Son’s blood to purchase your child.
So how can you show unconditional respect to your child?
Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs in his book Love and Respect gives six ways we can show unconditional respect:
- Appreciate your child’s desire to work and achieve. This means your child needs a parent(s) that believe in him/her.
- Appreciate their desire to protect and provide. Sometimes, a parent can focus so much on taking care of the needs of their child they overlook, belittle, and put down their child. Never mock a child for waiting to take care of their own needs.
- Appreciate their desire to serve and lead. Celebrate the times when your child takes responsibility for their actions.
- Appreciate their insights into problems. It’s all too easy to write off a child’s insight and suggestions because you think you don’t need them or they have a right to give them. However, they will need problem solving skills as they get older and your respect in this regard can help them solve issues wisely in the future.
- Appreciate their desire for shoulder to shoulder friendship. It’s important to do things with your child that they are interested in. Will you be energized by this? No. Will you be bored to tears? Probably. Will your child be bored? No. Will they be energized? Yes.
- Appreciate their desire for hugs and other positive physical feedbacks. I’m not a hugger, but my oldest daughter is especially a hugger. One day my wife saw me rejecting one of Taylor’s many hugs ‘cause I’m not a physical contact guy and she told me, “Always give Taylor’s a hug. She needs them just as much as you need your space.” That was an important lesson for me. So even though it goes against my personality I always try to give my children hugs.