The Life You Were Meant to Live part 2
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means to Me
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 29, 2008

Play Song/Video – R-E-S-P-E-C-T

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.” We’re in a message series right now about living the life you were meant to live, and you know what? You were meant to live a life worthy of respect. Doesn’t mean you’ll always get respect, but you should live a life worthy of respect anyway. You should be a respectable person.

“Respect. Simple respect. I’ll expect nothing more and I’ll accept nothing less.”
~ Margaret Houlihan, M*A*S*H 4077

That’s how Margaret Houlihan responded when Hawkeye Pierce asked her, “What do you want from me?” Respect.

I looked up “Respect” on Wikipedia this week, and this is what I found…

Respect is one of the most (if not the most) important attributes for society to maintain, yet it is hard to define. On its broadest level respect is the acknowledgment that someone has value… The importance on this value is that it changes peoples reactions towards you, usually in a positive way.
~ Wikipedia

Now, normally when you think about someone who doesn’t get any respect, who do you think of? Rodney Dangerfield. Well, here’s just one Dangerfield quote this morning: “I get no respect from my dog. The other day my dog went over to the door and started to bark. I went over and opened it. The dog didn’t want to go out... he wanted me to leave.”

Okay, That’s it. The only one Dangerfield joke for the morning.

You’ve probably heard Rodney Dangerfield joke about respect. And you’ve probably heard that song on the radio from time to time, but did you know it’s also something the Bible talks about?

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NLT)
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live…

And in 1 Timothy 3:2-3;

1 Timothy 3:2-3 (NIV)
Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

So according to the Bible, we should strive to be people who are respectable. That’s especially true for leaders in the Church, but I believe it’s true for all Christ-followers. We should all live lives worthy of respect. Maybe we’ve lost that respect at some time in the past, but from this point forward we should be worthy of respect.

Now, before we get into the heart of what I want to talk about today, let me just mention a few things that perhaps we think guarantee respect that really don’t.

Positions don’t guarantee respect.
Titles don’t guarantee respect.
Age doesn’t guarantee respect.
Experience don’t guarantee respect.

None of those guarantee respect. Because respect is something you earn. It doesn’t simply come to you. You need to earn it.

So what I want to do this morning is talk about how you can become a person of respect, and in order to do that we’re going to take the word “respect” and make an acronym with it (using each letter in the word “respect” to tell us something about earning respect). And I’m going to start off by breaking one of the basic rules about acronyms. When you make an acronym with a word, you’re not supposed to use that word in the acronym. Which is too bad, because that’s exactly what we’re going to do. So the letter “R” in “respect” stands for Respect.

Respect Yourself And Those Around You.

So you need to respect yourself.

“Don’t always try to be popular. It isn’t possible for everyone to like you. It’s far more important to like yourself. And when you respect yourself, strangely, you get more respect than if you court it from others.”
~ Joyce Brothers

Okay, so you’ve got to respect yourself. But what does that mean? How do you respect yourself? Well, you start by recognizing who you are. You are created by God Himself in His image. He loves you and places value in you.
You have talents and abilities. Maybe you’ve made it a habit to deny them and to beat up on yourself, but if you’re going to respect yourself it means that you’re going to appreciate the gifts and talents that you have.
If you respect yourself you’re going to work hard at your job. You’re going to alwaysstrive to do your best… at work and at home with your family.
And when you do mess up, or when someone criticizes, you’re not going to let it destroy you. You’re going to assess it, learn from it, and move on. If you respect yourself, you’re not going to be destroyed by failure or criticism.

“The price tag the world puts on us is just about identical to the one we place on ourselves.”
~ David J. Schwartz

So you’ve got to respect yourself. And you’ve got to respect those around you. And the way to do that is to treat them according to the Golden Rule. What’s that say? Help me out... “Do unto others...” (“As you would have them do unto you.”)

That comes straight from the words of Jesus…

Matthew 7:12 (NLT)
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

If you want to become a person of respect, you need to start by respecting yourself and respecting others.

1 Peter 2:17 (NLT)
Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters.

Ari Kiev, who writes books about achieving success and fulfillment, wrote:

“If you wish others to respect you, you must show respect for them. For 20 days, approach everyone you meet, irrespective of his station in life, as he or she were the most important person in the world. Everyone wants to feel that he counts for something and is important to someone. Invariably, people will give their love, respect, and attention to the person who fills that need. Consideration for others generally reflects faith in self and faith in others.”
~ Ari Kiev

Exceed The Expectations Of Others.

John Maxwell puts it this way:

“Get rid of the get-by spirit.”
~ John Maxwell

Later this week, Shera and I will be heading to New Brunswick for Beulah Camp. That’s an annual family camp operated by the Atlantic District of the Wesleyan Church, with thousands of people attending it over the course of ten days.

Well, I remember several years ago while I was there talking with one of the old retired pastors from the district. And the conversation turned to what it was like pastoring years ago. As in, back in the 50s and 60s. Well, this pastor talked about how one church where he pastored he was given a salary of $16 per week. And there were other pastors who survived on whatever was in the offering in the evening service. Some pastors were paid with vegetables, or with a pig. (Please don’t get any ideas.) The point is, many of these pastors from the past made significant sacrifices in order to serve God and fulfill their calling.

But let me tell you about these pastors... they never had the mindset that said if they were being paid $16 per week then they would give $16 worth of work per week and that’s it. They gave their all, regardless of what or how they were paid. They gave more than they were paid for, they exceeded the expectations of others, and those very same pastors are among the most highly regarded and respected today.

Now, that example dealt with pastors. But regardless of what you do for a living, you can exceed the expectations of others in many ways: in your work, in your homes, in your relationships, in your community involvement, on any committees or teams you may serve on, in your church, in your schools, and a host of other areas.

Let me give you three easy steps for how you can exceed the expectations of others.

A. Set high personal standards.
B. Know the expectations of others.
C. Fulfill those expectations... and then some.

Walt Disney put it this way…

“Do what you do so well that those who see you do what you do are going to come back to see you do it again and tell others that they should see what you do.”
~ Walt Disney

And as the apostle Paul put it…

Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT)
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

Stand Firm On Your Convictions And Principles.

You know, there are a lot of people and a lot of pressures in life that want you to give up… that want you to turn your back on your convictions… that want you to fail. There are employers who want their employees to act dishonestly, there are coaches who want their atheletes to do whatever it takes to win no matter how unethical, there are your own internal pressures that tell you that it’s worth it to cheat to get ahead, there are your own desires that try to convince you to trade your integrity for a few moments of pleasure.

You have plenty of opportunities each and every day to give up on your convictions and turn your back on your principles. But you know what? Those are also opportunities to stand firm. They’re opportunities to maintain integrity. They’re opportunities to do the right thing.

Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Let me read you something that appeared in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago:

“Submit to pressures from peers and you move down to their level. Speak up for your own beliefs and you invite them to come up to your level. If you move with the crowd you’ll get no farther than the crowd. When 40 million people believe in a dumb idea it’s still a dumb idea. So if you believe in something that’s good, honest, and bright stand up for it. Maybe your peers will get smart and drift your way.”
~ from The Wall Street Journal

So stand firm on your convictions and principles.

Possess A Desire To Learn And Grow.

We talked about that some last week. We talked about how the very best of us are life-long learners. We’re never satisfied to stay where we’re at; we always want to grow more.

Proverbs 18:15 (NLT)
Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.

David Robinson is considered to be one of the greatest centres to ever play in the NBA. He played on two NBA championship teams, won gold in two Olympics, was the MVP of the league, was a Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the year, is one of only four players to have recorded a quadruple double (point, assists, rebounds, blocks), and was also only the fourth player to score more than 70 points in a game. Beyond his basketball career, he’s also remembered for his contributions to the community. So much so that the NBA renamed its award for outstanding charitable efforts in his honour. David Robinson was a highly respected player in the NBA, achieved a high level of success, and has left a legacy. And on top of all that, he’s also a Christ-follower.

Do you know why I think he achieved the level of success he achieved? I think he achieved it because he possessed a deep desire to grow and to learn. Yes, he had talent. And once he reached the NBA he could have shifted into neutral and just coasted through the rest of his career. But his desire to grow and to learn wouldn’t permit that. This is what he had to say…

“People try to make you feel bad about your losses, but if you grow from your failures, they become the seeds of your success.”
~ David Robinson

Proverbs 9:9 (NLT)
Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.

The “E” in “respect” stands for this:

Earn The Trust Of Others.

People won’t respect you if they can’t trust you. So you’ve got to earn their trust. How do you do that?

Well, you start by just being real. Be authentic. Don’t put on a mask and try to be someone else. Be yourself. Be honest about your strengths and your weaknesses. Don’t try to project this illusion that you’re perfect, because you and I both know you aren’t. If you want to earn trust you have to be real and authentic.

You also have to keep confidentiality. Don’t feel like you have to tell everyone everything. Use some self control and some common sense. Figure out what things you can share openly and what things you really should keep to yourself. Nobody trusts or respects a blabbermouth.

And you also need to be reliable. If you want people to trust you, you need to be on time, you need to do what you say you will do, and you need to finish what you start. Be reliable. Be dependable. And over time, you will earn trust.

In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus talked about making promises and sealing them with a vow. “I swear I’ll do this… I really mean it this time… cross my heart and hope to die” kind of stuff. And what Jesus said was that you shouldn’t need to make a vow. You should be so trustworthy that your word is as good as your word. You shouldn’t have to reinforce what you say with a vow. Instead, Jesus said…

Matthew 5:37 (NLT)
“Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’”

Are you a trustworthy person? You’ve got to be if you want to be worthy of respect.

Contribute To The Lives Of Others.

I’m talking about giving people a boost. Encouraging them. Letting them know that you believe in them and see value in them.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

You know, you can encourage people just by smiling at them. I try to do this all the time. Like when I go through a checkout, I try to smile at the clerk. I want them to know that I appreciate what they’re doing. I want to add value into their lives. And you know what? It works! Even that simple investment of a smile into someone’s life can completely change their outlook on life.

You see that happening within churches, too. Churches that are affirming and encouraging are the churches that are growing and healthy. Churches that are critical and demeaning are declining and dying.

Earlier this morning, Chris read some verses from Ephesians 4. That’s one of my favourite passages because it paints such a great picture of how you and I are to work together as the Body of Christ.

Specifically, it talked about how each one of us are given special abilities by God. We have certain gifts and abilities, and someone else may have a completely different set of gifts and abilities. And the reason God has given these to us is not so we can take them and use them selfishly; He wants us to use them generously. He wants and expects us to use our abilities to contribute to the lives of others.

Talking about each of us as being part of the Body of Christ, the Church, this is what Paul said…

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)
As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

You see how that works? You contribute to the lives of others. You help others grow. You’ve got your own desire to grow, but you help others grow, too. And the end result is that we will all grow and we’ll be healthy, we’ll experience a unity, and we’ll be full of love.

Take Responsibility For Yourself.

You know what? As much as you strive to be a person worthy of respect and you try to live with integrity and you aim to show the godly character that Christ is producing in you, there may still be times that you act out of character… times that you mess up. There may be times that you act in a way that is inconsistent with the way that you normally act and in a way that is not in keeping with your beliefs and values. When that happens, do not try to deny it or justify it, don’t try to blame someone else, and don’t try to cover it up as if it never happened. Instead, what you need to do is take responsibility and own up to it.

Proverbs 28:13 (NLT)
People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

James 5:16 (NLT)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

It’s like the old story of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree. When someone asked who did it, he responded by saying “I cannot tell a lie. I did it.” He took responsibility. Would have been better if he hadn’t cut down the tree in the first place, but at least he was honest about it. At least he maintained his integrity.

Now contrast that with this cartoon. It’s a cartoon that I saw in a magazine (Christianity Today) and I’ve tried to recreate it for you using PowerPoint. It’s a picture of Judgment Day when we will all appear before God to give an account for our actions. Over on the left, the cartoon starts off by showing a small group of saints. Next to them there is a slightly larger group of people labelled as sinners. And then there the mass of people who are the individuals who have been victimized by society and are therefore not responsible for their actions! And you can see God off in the corner sighing.

Unfortunately, that’s what our world has come to. People are always trying to pass off responsibility. But that’s not really the way it works, is it? You and I are not meant to be like that. We need to take responsibility for our own actions.

Numbers 5:6-7 (NLT)
If any of the people—men or women—betray the Lord by doing wrong to another person, they are guilty. They must confess their sin and make full restitution for what they have done, adding an additional 20 percent and returning it to the person who was wronged.

Listen, the fact that we are Christ-followers means that we should be people who are worthy of respect. Remember, we are representing Him. When we bahave badly, that reflects badly on Him. But when we earn respect and treat others with respect, that becomes a reflection of who He is and what He’s doing in our lives.

So let me encourage you to take these seven principles and use them as a guide for becoming a person of respect.

[This message was adapted primarily from material by John Maxwell]



Copyright © 2008