This post last updated on December 26th, 2022
Male Respect: Earned or Implied?
Men, put your boots on because I may step on some toes here. Guys: when was it decided that respect was an automatic thing? Who planted this notion into the male mindset that we, simply by being born male are due to receive respect? And whatever happened to respect being something earned and not simply given?
“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31
The more I interact with my fellow men, I begin to realize to what extent some of the fathers have failed the sons. When a man believes that by being in the position of leader, or head of household, respect is automatic. Not so.
Did you ever have a boss you didn’t respect? Why didn’t you, he was in a position calling for respect, wasn’t he? Did he demand it or expect it but not display the character deserving of respect?
You know the type of person I’m talking about, one who leads by authority and position rather than by character. Does this impact the integrity of that person? How much more so when that person is “leading” a family, when the impact and the fallout are absolutely beyond measure, affecting wives and children?
Now before you dust your Bibles off and start shooting verses at me like fiery arrows, let’s make this first distinction of what I am not talking about:
Positional vs. Earned Respect
“Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” -Charles Reade
True, being in a position of authority does imply some level of respect. That’s called positional authority, meaning absolutely anyone in that position would garner the same exact level of respect.
What you do, who you are, the character of your person while in that position defines whether you build on that respect or if you maintain the respect due to your position, which believe me, isn’t much no matter what you keep telling yourself. “But I’m the man.” Yes. Now act like one and earn what you think you deserve!
Earned respect exists in that place where you have sacrificially related to those whom you are leading, especially our wives and our children.
The irony is this: the less you expect and demand respect, the more you earn when you are present, involved and by character leading the way and learning from your mistakes, and don’t miss this: the more respect you are giving by serving others, the more you deserve and earn.
You see, respect is not automatic, for that is authoritarian. It is earned and that by the things mentioned above: sacrificial love, serving others, being present, giving of your time- all of which build your character.
Titus 2:7 says that we should show ourselves “in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity…”
There Was a Time…
I married young, it was 10 days before my 20th birthday. Admittedly, I was immature and not ready for the position of authority I had found myself in, and much less that following year when my first daughter was born.
Guys, I’m writing this because I was that guy, thinking that I would somehow be miraculously endowed with leadership capabilities deserving of respect. Would you be surprised to know that is not at all how life happened?
That is not to say that there aren’t twenty year old men out there who are ready and able to do what I could not, just as there are men in their thirties, forties, fifties and beyond who still are not ready!
I share this to say that I have been at both ends of this pool, in one end expecting respect and in the other having earned it, and the message is that you do not want to sit in that shallow end of this pool for years like I did.
Men, We Can Do Better
Guys, it doesn’t matter how well or how poorly we may have taught or what kind of examples we have looked to and learned from. We can do better. We must do better.
Everywhere we turn in today’s world, leadership is failing. We see it in governments, schools, journalism, churches and in our very own homes, everywhere around us male leadership is failing. It’s time to stop that ride.All around us male leadership is failing. It's time to stop that ride. Men, earn respect.Click To Tweet
How do we do it?
I can’t tell you there is any single answer to this, there is no magic bullet. but there are most definitely steps I have taken in my own journey.
And because I don’t have all of the answers, I have much more to learn and many more steps to take, but here’s a start:
- Serve. All the time. You don’t earn (or deserve) respect by being served but by serving and setting examples.
- Be quick to admit when your at fault, then proceed to make things right.
- Be even more quick forgiving others of their faults.
- Be a giver; a giver of your self, your energies and especially your time. There is nothing more valuable that you could give.
- Speaking of time, value the time you are given to spend with those you love. It can disappear in a flash.
If you are married:
- Treat your wife as the absolute one of a kind, irreplaceable treasured gift that she is. Even when she’s not acting like one.
- Be the decision maker but above that, consider carefully the ideas, opinions and especially feelings of your wife. Marriage is a team sport and the decisions we make, men, do not simply affect us. But they do reflect on us.