Once an individual decides to walk in integrity, some things automatically become non-negotiable. After sincerely committing to a life of virtue and excellence, there is no going back to a life of compromise and mediocrity. A person can’t just, one day, decide “I do not want to be part of this character stuff anymore.” It is like riding on a roller coaster after it has been released from its starting point—we cannot just suddenly decide that we want to get off.
Once we surrender to living by right ethics, life begins to reveal the great advantages and benefits available to us, and we discover the wonderful things we are able to accomplish. But somewhere along the way, we must reach the point where we say, “Hey, wait a second! I shouldn’t just be looking for what I can get out of life. I must now begin looking for what I can give back that could benefit the lives of others.
It is at this point that we begin to learn about one of those “non-negotiables” in our journey toward character—the issue of respect. This is a crucial pillar. It is also the one area of our character that needs more attention than any other, for if we will readily walk in respect, then all the rest of the character traits will be easier for us to achieve.
The inner struggle of disrespect is a life-long issue for many people. Wherever we find disrespect, we will also find:
- Self-centered willfulness
Sadly, a great many of us, both young and old, fit this description. A person can be eighty (80) years old and still be an all-round self-willed and insubordinate individual.
What then is respect? Respect means to adhere to the instructions of those in the place of decision-making: to defer, regard, honor, and esteem. It also means to perform what is required while abstaining from what is prohibited.
Have you ever examined how long you mentally listen to the barrage of disrespectful thoughts, inner lies, and negative “self-talk” before you finally listen? We must eliminate the negative influences from our lives, or they will ultimately lead us down a path that none of us want to tread. The refusal to conquer negativity ensures that it will ultimately become our master.
A synonym for the word respect is “regard.” To regard means to consider or think of in a special way. It also means to heed and pay attention to; to diligently discern; and to perceive with one’s ear. A person who has determined to be respectful, in all areas of life, does not have to have his own way. He listens; he hears; and he is content to follow through with the instructions he receives.
Taking this discourse a little further, I want to quickly write on what respect is not. Often we can find out what something is by learning what it is not. So let’s learn more about respect by taking a look at its opposite. Opposite to people who are respectful are those who are insubordinate, rebellious, and contrary. Willful and headstrong, these individuals unyieldingly insist on achieving their own agendas. Beware…they will do all they can to wear you down, as they pressure you to see things their way.
Disrespectful, non-compliant individuals are recalcitrant, which means stubbornly obstinate. Once they dig their heels in the ground, we might as well build a monument around them, because they are not moving. All these negative traits add up to men and women who are ungovernable, ungrateful, and unruly—a continual grief to those who, unfortunately, are called upon to lead them.
One can’t help but be struck by the severity of this repulsive terminology: Insubordinate; rebellious; contrary; willful; headstrong; recalcitrant; ungovernable; ungrateful; unruly. It is quite evident that it is a person’s pride that will inevitable demote him in life; but a humble attitude will always result in a great future.
In studying this subject, I have come to realize that in the realm of respect or disrespect, there is no middle ground. If a person desires to have a future that is wide open, with many opportunities, there is no “right time” for him to exercise disrespect by saying, “well, that’s your opinion. I am going to do things my way.” Nevertheless, that is exactly the way modern society wants it. These elements of disrespect, non-compliance, and pride have ushered in very dangerous and uncertain times. We live in a word where people love their own opinions. They are primarily interested in what they can get for themselves, not in what they can give to someone else.
Today’s society has paid a heavy price for this scarcity of honor and respect. What was called a dysfunctional family twenty (20) years ago is now called a normal family. In fact, if a child has two parents living at home with him, his family is now statistically considered abnormal.
Our culture desperately needs people of character to be an answer to the lack of honor we see around us. Honor plays a pivotal role in the important arena of respect—honor for the elderly, honor for wisdom, honor for the decision-makers in life. Honor adds value to the giver as well as to the recipient.
In our modern society, slander, betrayal, and deception are unbridled and running rampant. For instance, someone might think, “I made a mistake in getting married, so I will just change marriage partners.” Or he might reason, “I made too much of a financial commitment, so I am going to file bankruptcy.” This mentality of betrayal and compromise is common whenever a person’s foundation of character is inadequate to deal with his circumstances.
People of character continually check to ensure that their foundation of ethics always exceeds their temptations to compromise. Whenever our ethics cannot withstand our temptations, we are in greater trouble than we understand, for our character defines who we are—both to ourselves and to those who have chosen to be around us…Come next week Monday, I would take this piece further.