Must Respect Be Earned?

respect-1I’ve heard it often recently:

He’ll have to earn my respect.

I refuse to respect someone who does that.

Just because someone’s in a certain position doesn’t mean I have to respect him or her.

I get it. It’s difficult to respect someone who is behaving badly, refuses to show respect to you or someone else, or seems to have severe character flaws.


if we wait until people prove they deserve respect before we extend respect will we ever have respect for anyone? Who actually deserves respect (if we’re fully aware of everyone’s motives, thoughts, and attitudes)? On what standards do we base our respect? Don’t we all somewhat use our own standards? What’s important for one person to display is low on the priority list for someone else. One person sees assertiveness and outspokenness as important, while another sees patience and humility as essential. When we pit one quality or behavior against another, we fail to see the benefits something we personally don’t respect might have in specific situations. Instead of pitting qualities against each other, we might be better off seeing them on a sliding continuum. Then, the most important quality is the ability to discern where to be on that sliding continuum in different situations.

We don’t have to admire and fully support someone to extend respect to him or her as a human being. Respect isn’t unconditional acceptance. Respect is common decency. Respect isn’t supporting actions and attitudes that oppose our own beliefs. Respect is stepping outside a situation briefly enough to see that we all have flaws, and we can communicate in spite of them. Respect isn’t letting the bad stuff slide by unchecked. Respect is knowing how to approach people in productive conflict.

Expectations Slap Me In the Face

2364b98bc293049f75580f87ff08b495Sometimes, expectations feel like a slap in the face. It might be someone else’s expectations of me, or it can be my expectations of others (or myself). Expectations can clear the path to discover great things and accept adventures, but they can also set us up for disappointment and unnecessary conflict.

I recently approach the exit door as I left a large department store. The doors were glass and very wide, letting in a lot of light and giving the appearance of automatic doors that would sense I was approaching.

My expectations were wrong. No door opened for me. I nearly ran straight into the glass before realizing I needed to put my hands in front of me and actually do something to get to where I was going.

Our expectations can put us on autopilot, forging forward, expecting a specific result, when the result is, in part, dependent on us and our actions, not just our assumptions and expectations.

We’re better off keeping our expectations in check, filtering them through truth and reality, asking God for strength to face and handle the next thing with grace and humility. Even when we fact check with Him, we won’t always understand and foresee what’s coming, but we won’t be quite as surprised either. After all, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Past, Present, and Future, All in One View


I almost missed the experience the first time I was in Israel. Because I was “misplaced” one day, I savored my walks along the beautiful promenade every remaining day of the trip. I looked forward to enjoying the area, view, and experience again.

A friend and I took a “test walk” late one afternoon to make sure I remembered the route. We planned to spend time at the promenade a couple days later on Shabbat, reading Scriptures together. (I’ll share that experience over the next several days.)

We walked through the trees to a wide, beautiful view.

All in one view: the Old City, Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock, and Mount of Olives (and much more). As I stared at the details of what I saw, I considered of the scope of it all.

Past, present, and future.

I was looking at history. Abraham’s faith was tested here. David bought a threshing floor. His son, Solomon, built the temple. Jeremiah warned God’s people. The walls of the city and temple were destroyed as the Jews in Judea were taken into Babylonian captivity. Nehemiah and Ezra led the temple rebuilding process. Jesus taught, healed, confronted, prayed, and walked to His death. After His resurrection, He ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives. His disciples continued His work.

I was looking at the present. Disciples are still doing His work. There is still conflict, as there has been throughout history. People struggle to agree who has control over what piece of land and who can pray where. Some are faithful in their pursuit of God’s will. Some are driven by pride. Others jump into the debate even if they don’t have much personal investment because it’s difficult to live life here without taking a stand. Without knowing each individual involved, it can be difficult to identify who has which motive. Some struggle to have peace by refusing conflict. Some choose conflict without regard for peace. Many seek peace but know conflict is the required sacrifice to reach it.

I was looking at the future. No political party is going to settle what happens on this land. No international governing body will have the last say. No group of faith, no matter what their beliefs, will have the power or authority to make the future happen. That role belongs to one Person: Jesus. Just because He has the last say doesn’t mean we can disengage and passively wait. We have responsibility in the present.

We look at history to learn and grow.

We look at the future for hope and assurance.

We live in the present with faith and obedience, one step at a time on the land He has placed us on.


Problems with Media

351473-mediaTV-1332052664-192-640x480This is not a post to slam media coverage. From different conversations with people, I think most see the shortcomings of media coverage. Media will cover what people will watch. Even if you don’t personally watch the gloom and doom stories, someone does. Plenty of someones must create the demand. Otherwise, media outlets wouldn’t highlight them. We all also know media is slanted. Honestly, I don’t know how it can’t be. There is no way we can completely portray reality without running it through a filter. The camera lens gives limited perspective. The captions give limited perspective. The news reporter gives limited perspective. Add the filters of the producers, time allotments, editing, and other factors, and it becomes clear why reality gets skewed. Of course, some media outlets seem to represent reality a bit better than others, or at least, we want to believe they do. Perhaps we’ve just chosen the perspective that most matches our own perspective. Perhaps we’ve just become accustomed to specific perspectives, so we’re more accepting and less shocked or disgruntled.

We complain about the filters the skew what the media presents, but we can’t do a lot about that…unless you decide to go on a personal mission to rework the entire media empire. (And spewing your opinions on Facebook doesn’t qualify.) But there’s something we can all do:

Pay attention to your own filters.

We need to filter what we’re taking in instead of just complaining about what others offer us. I was reminded of the importance of filters when in Israel. Family and friends of our group were watching news reports for any updates on happenings in Israel. With the violent fighting throughout the summer, many were concerned for our safety. I understood their concern, but when you travel much and see the chasm between what fits in the small frame of a television and what is happening around you, the concern lessens. Incidents were usually isolated enough that we weren’t aware of anything going on; in fact, most people in Israel probably weren’t. However, people watching the news back home might see an extended report of an isolated event. Which is exactly what happened.

Several women got texts asking how we were and if we were close to the fighting. Fighting? What fighting? Everything around us seemed calm. We heard and saw no commotion. We didn’t hear any more sirens than we’d expect on a normal day in any city–abroad or in the U.S. Several of us looked online to watch the news report to see what others were seeing. The video lasted several minutes. The first 20-30 seconds included the actual scuffle, which involved a few people yelling and pushing each other. No guns, no harmful violence. Yes, it could have escalated to that level, but it didn’t. The rest of the segment included two videos of more violent footage involving many more people. At the bottom of the screen, we noticed small words–“file footage”–with one date that was the height of the summer conflict and one that was an earlier date that originally escalated the conflict. File footage means just what it sounds: video footage (or photographs or an interview, whatever the format) that is pulled from a file. It is related to the current footage, but it’s not current.

Why would a media outlet include something that ignites emotion, conflict, and controversy? That’s not my focus of this post. Instead, let’s ask,

How carefully do I filter what I’m watching and listening?

What assumptions do I bring with me?

What snap judgments do I make?

What do I do, either with my internal reaction or as I share with others, to ignite emotion, conflict, and controversy?

Why should I blame others when I’m not willing to take responsibility for my own response?

Maybe you refuse to watch the news because you’re trying to avoid dealing with these kinds of issues, you’re not off the hook. You need to filter any information coming in. You have assumptions that you need to be aware of and make snap judgments at times. You let yourself respond in ways that aren’t truth-seeking, and you spread that to others. You share inflammatory things on social media, spew around your table, or pass along false or partial information. We all do from time to time, more than we want to admit.

It’s our responsibility, each one of us, to seek truth. Use God’s truth as your filter. Respond with truth. You can’t control all media, but you can be an example in your sphere of influence.


Nosy Neighbors?

neighborsWe moved to a tiny town when our oldest daughter was a year old. Before the days of widespread cell phones, we pulled into town, and my husband asked to use a neighbor’s phone to call the water superintendent. A woman answered the phone and told Tim the water superintendent wasn’t available. “Well, he said to call as soon as we arrived in town. We really need to have our water turned on.”

She replied, “Oh, you’re the new family! He’s on his way. Someone saw you drive into town and called us!”

A few years later, I arrived home after a grocery shopping trip and tried to hurriedly unload the groceries so the girls weren’t unsupervised for long. My final load was light, and I jumped onto the front steps from the side as I’d often done. But this time I missed the steps all together and rolled onto the grass. Unharmed, I jumped up and ran into the house in time to hear the phone ring. “Hello?”

“Susan? Are you okay? I saw you fall off the steps!” Theresa exclaimed into the phone.

Theresa and her husband, John, lived across the empty lot, so they were nearly a block away, but they seemed to notice a lot. John yelled at my husband after he saw me mowing while pregnant. (I like to mow, and I’m a bit stubborn. My husband’s reply? “John, I’d like to see you try to stop her!”) John and Theresa might have noticed a lot, but we had no doubt they cared for us. John regularly lent Tim tools and gave him suggestions of how to fix something. Theresa shared beautiful flowers. And they picked up and later delivered the birthday cake Tim ordered when I was overdue with our second daughter. (It did the trick, too. I went into labor later that evening!)

We live in a society in which we pull into our garages and go into our houses without ever seeing our neighbors. We often live away from family and don’t have people close enough to call and ask for a quick babysitter. We would rather drive several miles to pick up a couple eggs or flour instead of knocking on a neighbor’s door to ask for help. We rarely live with extended family, and our relief about that is another telltale sign that we see some of those deep connections a more negative than positive. We want our own space and individual options and control. We build houses large enough for each person to have personal bedrooms and, often, bathrooms.

How much space do we need and at what cost?

Getting to know neighbors is risky. You might be rejected. You might need to deal with conflict. You might have to sacrifice your time or resources to help. But the reverse is true, too. You might be accepted and find a place to belong. You might make significant friendships. You might benefit from sharing time and resources with others.

We who are strong in faith should help the weak with their weaknesses, and not please only ourselves. Let each of us please our neighbors for their good, to help them be stronger in faith. Romans 15:1-2

You have a choice to make. Listen to cultural messages and believe you can do it all on your own, that taking control and making your own decisions is easier and more desirable than involving others. Or listen to God’s plan for doing life in intentional relationships.

Which will you choose?

Don’t forget your friend or your parent’s friend. Don’t always go to your family for help when trouble comes. A neighbor close by is better than a family far away. Proverbs 27:10

Fit Faith: Health: Open Air Therapy

Several years ago, my husband and I started walking together. We had tried many times before that, but I wasn’t a very good walking partner. I liked to power walk, and I didn’t have much patience for anyone who wanted to stroll. I was on a mission, and my focus was on a good workout, which I defined as pushing myself physically. Walking didn’t have anything to do with anyone else but myself.

Then I made a concession. I would go for my walk and push my limits. When I was done, I’d go for another, shorter walk with Tim. It was a compromise we could both live with. The focus began to shift from the walk to the time we got to spend together. We talked about our days. We talked about our daughters. We talked about anything that was on our minds.

As we grew accustomed to walking together, we adjusted again. Instead of waiting until I got home from a walk, Tim would text me when I’d been gone for a while to find out if I was ready for a walking buddy. I rarely said no, even if I hadn’t been walking long, because I looked forward to walking with him. It wasn’t so much about me as it was about the time I got to spend with my husband.

Being able to walk and talk occasionally invited topics that spurred disagreements. That’s going to happen between two married people! Disagreements when walking, however, had a different tone. We were walking side-by-side, and as we’d work through the conflict toward a resolution, we avoided much antagonism, because we were headed in the same direction. We walked and talked it out.

The occasional disagreement and more frequent sharing took on a therapeutic effect. We were spending time together. It didn’t matter if we were talking about our relationship or things that impacted each of us as individuals, we were growing together. We still are.

We’re not in a regular routine of walking together, but we miss it when we go very long without it. We know we can spend time together in many other ways, but there’s something special about our walks – so much so that many times I don’t insist on a walk before our walk. He walks a bit faster, I walk a bit slower, and that’s okay with me. I’m just glad to be by his side, listening to his heart.

Health isn’t just about the physical. That’s often the focus, and it was certainly my main focus when determined to walk fast and far. However, there’s an emotional and relational health benefit I was missing and have been able to infuse into my walks as Tim has joined me. The physical benefits become secondary.

How do you compartmentalize your health?

How and when do you sacrifice one aspect of your health for another?

My child, pay attention to my words; listen closely to what I say. Don’t ever forget my words; keep them always in mind. They are the key to life for those who find them; they bring health to the whole body. (Proverbs 4:20-22)

Surround yourself with healthy relationships. Let them infuse health into many other areas of your life. Let God’s perspective invade your perspective. Let his words nourish you so that you know where he wants you to be when and with whom. He will help correct your focus if it’s misguided, and he’ll impact everything in your life when you develop a healthy relationship with him.

This Week’s 7: What Christ Said

Each Sunday on the Pure Purpose blog, I feature This Week’s 7, a simple list about an everyday topic, giving you ideas and encouragement. Today is Easter, the day of celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. Let’s consider the first seven statements and questions Jesus spoke following his resurrection.

  1. Jesus asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” (John 20:15) As always, Jesus knew the answer to the question he asked. There’s nothing wrong with crying. Scriptures tell us Jesus wept. Jesus asked the question to which he was the answer. He was the reason for her tears. He would be the reason they would stop.
  2. Jesus said to her, “Mary.” (John 20:16) Jesus was personal. He called Mary by name, as he often called his disciples by name. Jesus is personal to each of us. He knows who we are, what we need, and what to say.
  3. Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, because I have not yet gone up to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “ (John 20:17) Jesus directs Mary to do something. She’s to take action and tell others about the resurrection. “Go and tell” is a directive for which each of us is responsible. How are you handling the responsibility?
  4. Then Jesus came and stood right in the middle of (his followers) and said, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19) Jesus gives peace – not what we often think of as peace (long stretches of uninterrupted quiet). Jesus’ peace is active. Often conflict and confrontation must happen in order to arrive at peace. In order to have his peace, we must allow him to sift through the junk of our lives. He will; he is the Prince of Peace.
  5. Then Jesus said again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, I now send you.” (John 20:21) Jesus has a job for you. He gives you the strength, courage, guidance, and provision you need, but you must rely on him. You’re not sending yourself. He’s sending you. Are you on your way?
  6. After he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22) You receive everything you need through the Holy Spirit. Receiving is active. You must allow the Holy Spirit to invade your life. Otherwise, no matter how hard you’re trying to achieve God’s will, it will be your own work, not his.
  7. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven. If you don’t forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:23) Jesus gives a word of caution. The life of a believer will not be easy. There will be temptations along the way. There will be struggles with difficult people and situations. Be driven by who he is and how he would respond. Be firm in the areas in which Jesus would be firm and forgiving in the areas that need to be forgiven. His way is the best way.

Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.” (John 14:6)