R-E-S-P-E-C-T…find out what it means to me… Can’t you just hear Aretha belting out that song?
Well, throughout modern times, us women have earned the right to be respected. We have worked hard to become strong, independent, educated, and accomplished. We are business leaders, spiritual leaders, and world changers.
AND where does that leave the men in our lives? Our husbands, fiancés, boyfriends, and yes even our FATHERS.
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband,” (Ephesians 5:33 NIV).
Why does the Bible give two different instructions? Husbands, love your wives. Wives, RESPECT your husbands. God knows our needs. He knows, above all else, we women need to feel loved. He also knows how strongly men need to feel respected. After all, God created both men and women, so He is intimately familiar with our wiring.
Recently, a friend jokingly showed me a picture she took while her husband was unsuccessfully trying to fix something around the house. Defeated and beaten-down, he crouched over his tools while she stood there and offered “advice”…and his masculinity seemed to drain right out of him. I was instantly reminded of how many times I’ve treated my husband similarly. Ouch! How often have my words, actions, or even just glances communicated my lack of confidence or support?
Take over. Push. Prod. Nag. Interrupt. Ridicule. Give unsolicited bossy advice. Question decisions. Don’t consult him. UGH!
These words are the definition of NOT showing respect. Let’s be honest, there might be quite a few things we do better than our husbands. But still, there’s this command in the Bible to respect him. Does that mean I should respect him when he deserves it? How about respect him only when he’s right? Oh, it must be respect him when I agree with him. No, it says wives MUST respect their husbands, without any conditions attached.
I don’t know about you, but I have had to learn to leave “Corporate Sandra” at the door and come into our home as “Sandy the Wife and Mother.” But that transition is hard and is a daily struggle for me because often the assertiveness that has served us well in life and in business does NOT suit us well in our male relationships.
So this respect thing doesn’t just pertain to our husbands, fiancés, and boyfriends. It ALSO has to do with our bosses, employees, and team members. For a lot of us, our authority figures are male, which means we automatically are expected to respect them. But how are we respecting them? Do we acknowledge their direction and then roll our eyes and smack talk about them to our co-workers? Do we take what our male employees or co-workers say with a grain of salt, just because we know (not think) that our way is better, no matter what they say? Ladies, this kind of attitude will get us nowhere in the office and if anything, will harm the workplace progress that’s been made in recent years. Let’s band together and agree to stop trash talking and start respecting the men in our workplaces!
And let’s also remember that men are not usually very good at verbalizing their feelings. So, when they are not feeling respected, they are not necessarily even going to know what’s wrong or why they’re feeling yucky or negative towards us. However, there is always a consequence to disrespect.
The consequence might look like a return over-assertion of dominance from them toward us, like making demands or suddenly being controlling. Or the consequence might look like consistent anger or grumpiness without a cause. Our male boss might assert himself and take us off of our favorite client. Or our husband might start working out early and staying at the office late to avoid us. Or—hold on to your seats—he might find the respect he so desperately needs, but doesn’t even know he is missing, from another woman.
How can we get to a place of not only respecting the men in our lives, but also showing him respect before any more harm is done? Here are some tips:
- Take control of our thoughts.
Focus on what we admire about him and what he does right.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things, ” (Philippians 4:8).
Ask God to make us more aware of times when we are not being respectful, then ask God to help us correct this behavior.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us,” (1 John 5:14).
- Be careful with our words.
Don’t utter one single syllable of negativity until we’ve had enough time to think and pray about it so we can approach him in a helpful way.
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity,” Proverbs 21:23.
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. Brothers, this should not be,” James 3:10
- Proactively respect him in front of others.
Look for opportunities for genuine praise. Always speak well of him to his children and in front of his children. The kids are looking to us as an example of how to show respect. They will learn from us how to respect all authorities in their lives…..including us.
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears it down,” (Proverbs 14:1).
- Admit it.
Apologize for our lack of respect in the past, and keep apologizing when we mess up in the future.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed,” James 5:16.
- Speak his love language.
Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages – The Secret to Love That Lasts,” changed my life. And now there is a workplace version, “The 5 Love Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” Whether you read a book, take a quick online assessment, or just check out their websites, PLEASE invest some time. Just like we sometimes have to speak another language to people from other countries, we have to communicate our love and appreciation for others in different ways. Know it. Do it. It makes a HUGE difference.
And what about the fathers in our lives? Studies show that many women of our generation are reaching higher levels of education and earning than our parents’ generation did…and that includes our fathers. That is the case for my family. My dad worked hard and sacrificed greatly so I could have opportunities he never had. And very soon out of undergrad I was out earning him. Yet, I can tell you there were times I made sure that my father knew exactly how stupid and lame I thought his advice, instructions, and direction was for me. Now with children of my own, I feel the pain that must have caused him. We must RESPECT and honor our parents. Always. No matter what.
This Dad conundrum is one reason why I look forward to Father’s Day every June. It gives me the opportunity to make sure my dad knows just how much he means to me and how every word of advice and wisdom that he bestowed upon me are precious nuggets of knowledge that I will cherish always, and pass to my children daily. Maybe this Father’s Day would be a good “fresh start” for you with your own father. Make sure he knows how much you love and respect him!
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DAD!
R-E-S-P-E-C-T is not about what it means to us. It’s about what it means to HIM.
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