“This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
R – E – S – P – E – C – T. This 1967 smash hit by Aretha Franklin quickly exploded up the charts. While it was written by Otis Redding in 1965 as a man’s plea for respect and recognition, the roles were reversed for Franklin’s version. Her rendition was a landmark for the feminist movement, and is often considered one of the best songs of the R&B era. The popularity of this song (she won 2 Grammys in 1968) seemed to voice the general feeling of people everywhere. In 2002, the Library of Congress honored Franklin’s version by adding it to the National Recording Registry.
Rodney Dangerfield developed a whole comedy routine, and ultimately career, with one simple bi-line — “I don’t get no RESPECT!!” His comedy album No Respect also won a Grammy Award.
In her book, For Women Only, Christian author, Shaunti Feldhahn, writes that when men are asked which they would choose — to be alone and unloved, or feel inadequate and disrespected (not that we men would really want either) — nearly 75% chose alone and unloved.i Think about that. These men would rather be alone with no love, than to be made to feel inadequate and disrespected.
What’s interesting is that if you pay close attention to today’s teens, you will hear them express a desire not to be ‘dissed"… slang for disrespected. Often this disrespect comes in the form of insulting put downs, rejection, or dismissive behavior. It seems that everyone yearns in some way for this seemingly innate desire to feel respected.
While in prison, the great Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the believers in Philippi. The overall message of the letter is "joy". Paul is not writing to just the "saints" as he did in Ephesians and Colossians. It is striking that he adds the “overseers and deacons” (Philippians 1:1 NASB) to his greeting, as if to make a special effort to include those in leadership. In chapter 2, Paul makes a heartfelt appeal. He asks that all reading his letter would make his joy complete. How? By being intent on one purpose — “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3 KJV) The ultimate in respect. Each person esteeming every other person better than themselves. Perhaps that is why he added the leadership to his salutation. It’s as if he was saying that status doesn’t negate responsibility. Dignity and worth were to be attributed to every person equally. Could Paul have been remembering what David voiced in Psalm 8, “What is man that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God (ELOHIM) and dost crown him with glory and majesty.” (Psalm 8:4-5 NASB) If God feels that way about us, then we too ought to hold each other in high regard. If we lived out our lives exhibiting this kind of respect — where each person thinks of everyone else as more worthy than themselves — it just might turn some marriages, families, teens, work relationships, and maybe even counseling sessions around.