DO THEY RESPECT ME?
Titus 2:2 NLT
Teach the older men to be worthy of respect.
Respect: a feeling of deep admiration for someone elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. High or special regard. To hold in high esteem or honor.
Do they respect me? This penetrating question is one I asked myself many, many times over the years as the father of my children living in my home. It is impossible to lead our families, and train, guide and impact our children for Christ if they do not respect us as their father.
Put another way, in keeping with the definition of respect, is this question. Do my children admire me? Do the qualities that they consistently see in my life elicit admiration, trust, and respect in their thoughts, behavior, and estimation of me as their dad and the man married to their mother?
Some years ago, I was speaking with a young 20-something, who had grown up in a Christian home, whose father was a respected church leader. As he shared with me his story, it became obvious as he spoke, that he did not respect or admire his father. When I gently asked him about it, he poured out the realities of what he lived through at home. It was obvious from what he shared, that the way this man treated his family, and the great inconsistencies of his life, he was not worthy of their respect or admiration. In fact, the way he had lived at home, and treated his family caused anything but admiration. This broke my heart for this young man, as it had greatly injured his faith.
I cannot overstate to you men, how incredibly important it is that we are men who our children can admire and respect. This, in fact, is the foundation upon which all the rest of our fathering is built. We must work hard to be worthy of their respect. If they don’t admire and respect us, then all of our words, admonitions, Bible truths, and perspectives shared with them will fall on deaf ears, as their negative feelings about you and a low view of you will shut you out of their heart.
This was one of the scariest things to me as a father. Why? Because I knew so well my own failings. I knew myself, how easy it was to walk in the flesh, to be unspiritual, and say or do things that were foolish or said in anger and impatience. This is in fact, one of the driving reasons I was then, and am today, a desperate man, who desperately and urgently seeks God’s help every single day of my life. I wanted with all my heart to be a man worthy of my children and my wife’s admiration and respect. This could only be accomplished by the consistency of my words, my deeds, and my actions. In other words, I needed to develop habits in my life that would elicit my families, admiration, love, and respect.
Here are some of those qualities that I worked very hard to develop that had a direct impact on my children’s respect and admiration of me.
1. The humility to acknowledge something I said or did that was wrong, and to apologize to them for it and take responsibility for my actions and not blame someone else. I regularly asked members of my family for their forgiveness for a wrong I had done or an unkind word I had said. Many times with tears of sorrow. They also saw me be transparent and open about my failings and shortcomings through all the years they heard me preach and teach publicly.
2. I strove with all my heart to obey the word of God in my daily life. I would read my Bible and carefully ponder it in order to model and pattern my life after its teachings and wisdom.
3. I prayed over my life every single day, with great earnestness, and often with tears, acknowledging to the Lord my great weakness, my failings, and my tremendous need for his help. I begged God to change me.
4. I worked very hard to be kind to my children and my wife. I worked very diligently to develop encouraging speech, and to say things with my mouth that would build them up, affirm them and not tear them down.
5. I did everything in my power to keep my word and do the things I said I would do. I was determined to be a man they could always rely on.
6. I served my wife and children around the home. I don’t mean just things like mowing the lawn or putting gas in the car. But also things like vacuuming, getting groceries, helping straighten up a room, doing some laundry, changing some diapers, feeding the toddler. Little things that simply, consistently expressed servant leadership.
7. I worked very hard to be a more loving and patient man. This was not easy for me as I am not patient by nature. I am a high strung, type-A personality, and very choleric. I devoted much prayer to God asking him to help me become a more loving, Christ-like man. It was imperative to me that my children and my wife saw Jesus Christ in me by the way I lived among them day by day.
8. I practiced showing tons of grace and forgiveness to my family members in the same way God has shown so much grace and forgiveness to me.
9. I tried my very best to treat them the way I would want to be treated. I worked very hard to be considerate and thoughtful of their feelings and interests.
10. I lived strong and courageously and stood up for the truth no matter what it cost me. I was a man of strong faith and convictions, and I led them with godly strength. A weak-willed, timid, and passive father will not gain his children’s respect or admiration.
My children are always going to remember how I lived, how I treated them, and how I treated their mom. I wanted to ensure that that memory was a treasured and deeply admired one to them.
In closing today, I wanted to share this. Over my 35 years of Christian ministry, I have known Christian men who were genuinely worthy of respect, but whose wives refused to respect them, be submissive to them or follow their leadership. I have also known children who despite the admirable father they had, refused to be respectful. This is a sad and painful reality in the fallen world we live in. My heart goes out to any of you who are living through that right now. Let me encourage you dear brother, don’t lose heart or throw away your faith, as the Lord sees, and the Lord knows your heart, your motives, and the pursuit of your life. God is for you! He himself will honor you, even if others close to you do not. No matter what the outcome, always strive to be faithful to your Savior. You will be eternally rewarded and commended by God for being a man worthy of respect!
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling