Respect is a two way street.
We’ve all heard that before.
There’s a good chance most of us have said it before.
If we really think about it, though, this only comes to mind when we want to give ourselves an excuse for disrespecting someone we feel has first disrespected us. We too quickly take any perceived slight as an open invitation to lash out or hold a grudge against the offender. We speak harshly to them or give them the cold shoulder. We grumble and gossip about them and all the while feel justified because they treated us badly. In our all consuming feelings of insult, we may take to social media to extol our victimhood and show the world how we have been so shabbily treated. This would probably be about the time we end up telling anyone who will listen that, “Respect is a two way street, you know.”
The problem here is that this statement is wrong.
Respect is not a two way street. Sometimes, respect is a one way street with no jay walking allowed.
If we only respect those people who respect us, what have we done? What has made us different from the rest of the world? Where is Jesus in that? The answers to these questions are…nothing and nowhere.
Here’s a news flash: Jesus never asked for respect. Honestly, since He knew ahead of time what His mission was, that means He also knew ahead of time that He would not get respect. He came to this earth, on purpose, to be disrespected. He came to save the world with His life. If anyone, ever, had the right to feel victimized, it was surely Jesus. He gave up EVERYTHING for the very people who spit on Him, beat Him, and murdered Him. He did this for me and you and everyone else on earth. He didn’t do it for respect and He never played the victim.
If He never told us to respect Him, what did He tell us to do?
He told us to love one another. He told us to love God. He asked us to feed His sheep. He didn’t tell us to retaliate or hate or destroy. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t approve of us taking to Facebook to bash someone who spoke rudely to us.
He asked us to go. He told us to go to the ends of the earth to share the Good News with all the world. That includes the place where we are right now. Wherever we find ourselves as leaders, we are to share the Good News, both by our words and our deeds. As leaders, it is not alright to only respect those who respect us first, and then only for as long as they never slight us. We are to respect everyone, always, in every situation. That doesn’t mean I can’t call you out if you’ve done something wrong. Jesus did that. It does mean, though, that I must do it professionally and respectfully. I can look someone in the eye and tell them that they are not meeting the expectation of the job without being mean or hateful or aggressive. This may be really hard sometimes, but not so much if you consider the disrespect our souls cost Jesus on the cross.
Oh, and one more thing Jesus did say.
He told us to turn the other cheek.
Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”
John 15:20-21, NIV