Respect, honor, esteem, reverence, consideration…in other words to hold in high regard. This week my daughter emailed one of her professors and addressed her by her first name. The professor wrote back and answered her question but also told her that she should be addressed as Professor…(last name). This daughter showed me the email and I reminded her that this professor is in a position of authority and should be addressed with respect.
This topic of how we address people is something that has bothered me for quite some time. When I was growing up, every adult was addressed as Mr. or Mrs. If they had earned a title, they were addressed with the title before their name. Our Pastor was always Pastor.
As we were raising our daughters they were taught to address those in authority with the proper title. Somewhere along the lines it changed. More commonly now, adults introduce themselves to children by their first name. From my perspective, we are in positions of authority and not their friends.
Another area in our present day culture that has a seeming level of disparity is the football players in the NFL who have decided that they will kneel during the National Anthem to show their stand against racial oppression and inequality in the United States.
So these players want more respect and yet their actions show a high level of disrespect for our flag, our country, and those who have fought for our freedom. How does one gain respect by showing disrespect?
How did we get to such a place in our country? There are those who are in positions of authority that do not deserve respect, yet we are to “be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1). God has instituted levels of authority “as His servant for our good” (Romans 13:4).
The next verse leaves no questions as to what we are supposed to do. “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (I Peter 2:17).
There has been much mistreatment of many different human beings in our world and there continues to be mistreatment of people today that do not deserve this mistreatment. We live in a “me first” world so if someone feels disrespected, rather than return respect they will return more disrespect. It is a vicious circle that needs to stop.
I wonder if a good place to start would be with our children. Teaching them that an adult deserves respect and should be addressed with respect. Teaching our children that no matter who the other person is they were made in God’s image and deserve to be honored and loved. Jesus challenged His disciples and us with a difficult task, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44). We are not to show disrespect when disrespected, rather we are to show love.
Rather than showing our country disrespect by kneeling during the National Anthem, what if these football players all across America went to the lowliest of people and showed them respect. Helped them with their needs. Worked alongside rebuilding their homes, their communities, and their spirits. What if they taught boys that being a gentleman is nobler than being a part of a gang? Finishing school and getting a job to support ones family is nobler than anything illegal. I wonder what level of respect the rest of the American people would gain for these football players?
What if we as adults introduced ourselves as Mr./Mrs./Professor/Dr./Miss and expected that since we are in positions of authority we should act as role models for those children that are addressing us with respect.
What if our attitude changed from “me” to noticing the needs of others? What if we tried to be positive role models by behaving in a positive and respectful way?