Respect is…A Need?

Paige Smith

In a time when irreverence is applauded and familiarity is commonplace, respect and honor can at times seem like bygones of the past.

Any public figure, whether it is the president of the United States or a major civil rights leader is at all times vulnerable to public scrutiny and defamation.

Memes are made of candidates running for presidential office, vicious tweets tear down public figures, politicians are warped into caricatures and magazine headlines scoff at celebrities questioning the morality of pastors.

Sadly, in our boldness and freedom we have often forgotten the basic principles of respect and honor.

Many times when one hears the words respect or honor they think of the military or perhaps an older mother figure in their life that instructed them tenaciously to “show some respect!”

As rigid or archaic as these words seem to some, respect and honor are both essential to our contemporary lives.  They are both vital for our  relationships desperately lacking in our culture today.  Where there is a breach of respect, there is always a breach in relationship.

Our relationships with others, especially across generational and cultural lines, will only flourish when we learn to respect one another.

The first step to understanding the significance of respect or honor is to define what it is.

Respect is “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability” (

Yet another definition has been widely given from the relationship guru and father of psychologist  himself, Dr. David Ferguson (founder of The Great Commandment Network).  He defined honor as “valuing and regarding another highly; treating another as important; honoring another.”

Many times when one thinks of “respect”, seemingly empty gestures of submission may come to mind: a salute, standing when an authority figure walks in the room, saying ma’am or sir. Yet as the definitions above reveal, true respect is not an action, but a heart positioning.

Respect is synonymous with honor. To respect someone is to esteem them highly, to value them.

Our conduct towards others should be a beautiful expression of the value we have already determined for them in our hearts.

Ultimately, respect is a demonstration of love. Respect is to prefer someone above oneself. Respect is going the extra mile to show another person just how valuable they are to you.

Respect is considering how another person would best want to receive a situation.

Respect usually is out of our natural comfort zones, it often takes more time and effort to put into practice.

Respect then is intentional. It is also a universal relational need meaning every person needs it in their lives. Just as we need air, water or food, we need respect in our lives.

Just as we need air, water or food, we have a relational need for respect in our lives.

Some have a greater need than others, but every person, from your 3 year old niece to your coworker, to your uber driver to your mother, to the president of your alma mater-requires and deserves respect.

Respect is a need we all have and those who have a high need for it should not feel guilty or as if they are prideful for feeling a need for others to demonstrate they value them.

Respect can look different in the context of many different relationships, but always remember it begins with the heart.

Here are 7 ways you can show respect to your loved ones:

1. Being on time if meeting with someone and always communicating your gratitude to them to show you value their time and that you know you are not entitled to it.

2. Using a respectful tone of voice when communicating.

3. Using the person’s title (Doctor, Pastor, President) if they have one and if not simply using Mister or Miss or their first name.

4. Listening and giving the person undivided attention when someone is speaking, intentionally putting away your phone.

5. If meeting with a person, coming prepared with notes, questions, and ideas.

6. Readily celebrating and acknowledging their accomplishments through applause, standing ovation, or even cheering.

7. Acknowledging that their expertise, knowledge, and skill set is unique and valuable.

For those who may be struggling with giving respect or may see this list and feel overwhelmed I wanted to share my testimony to bring encouragement:

There was a time I seriously struggled with respect and honor. Growing up I had often been around friends who had a very friendly relationship with their parents and I had been so used to familiarizing myself with adults from a young age because of my maturity and outgoing personality.

It wasn’t until college that I realized I had a real issue with truly honoring authority and parental figures.

At the time I didn’t see this issue. After all, I wasn’t doing anything outwardly outlandish or incredibly “rebellious” and even would attempt to show signs of respect. Yet in my heart, not fully known to even myself, I considered everyone, adults and authorities alike, as my peers or friends.

Therefore, instead of esteeming these relationships highly, I was esteeming them much lighter than what they were. Because my heart wasn’t in the right position, my “respectful behavior” was only pretense and didn’t get far with cultivating a true relationship.

It took a season of deep reflection on the importance of these relationships for me to shift my heart perspective. After this season I had a breakthrough in how I viewed others and myself. I was able to be more authentic, more teachable, and to actually grow more as I developed a heart of honor. I am still growing in respecting and honoring others, but I can see how it has tremendously blessed my relationships even now.

Respect and honor do not have to be myths of the past. Let’s bring back respect and honor to our relationships, preferring each other and esteeming each other as highly as God Himself does.

I encourage you to say this prayer with me:

“God, I thank you that you are Love. You are a God who esteems me so highly you’ve made me your child and clothed me in robes of righteousness. You honor me daily. Help me to see myself and my loved ones the way you see them and to value them the way you do. I know it’s your will for me to honor my parents and authority figures in my life. I know I can only do this with your strength. Thank you for the grace to show love to other through respect and honor! In Jesus name, Amen.”

I hope this post has blessed you and helped you realize the importance of giving and Recieving respect and honor! Feel free to comment and share we love hearing from you and we value YOUR experiences and insights.


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