Authentic Responsibility #14: I am responsible to require courtesy and respect toward me.
image courtesy of PinkBlue / freedigitalphotos.net
For three years, I worked in a hostile office environment with two insecure superiors who did not like each other. In addition, they spent many days belittling everyone in the office to make themselves feel better. One of my superiors especially loved calling out mistakes in front of other people in the office to make herself look and feel smarter. After three long years of being belittled, I decided that enough was enough. She called me out over something small in front of office visitors, and I took my stand. I told her that she was being rude and disrespectful and that when I made a mistake, she could quietly point it out to me instead of being so rude and condescending. This simple move made my last few weeks in the position more manageable, and I received better treatment from this coworker as a result.
President Obama may not know how to spell it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t require it for yourself! Mark 12:31 says, “You should love your neighbor as yourself.” Loving yourself—requiring respect for yourself—is an important commandment from the Lord that we should follow. So here are the ABCs of requiring courtesy and respect for yourself:
Ask from the start. The moment someone disrespects you (or shortly after), you should deal with it to avoid any future problems. My coworker had treated me like this since day one, and because she treated everyone this way, I allowed it. This was my fault, and I was very frustrated for three years in my job because of it. I let my coworker believe that her behavior was acceptable! However, had I addressed it from the beginning, it may have led to a more peaceful working environment and a better relationship with this coworker. When you require respect from the beginning, you can build a base on which relationships thrive.
Be strong and courageous. It can be hard to tell someone that you don’t like the way they treat you. However, the Lord is with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9)—even into difficult conversations with people about how they behave toward us. Although I addressed my coworker’s behavior late, I still received the strength I needed to speak firmly and boldly to her about her actions. You can have that same power behind you through prayer and a close relationship with Christ. The Bible says that His grace is enough for us and that His power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). So boldly go into His presence and then have that hard conversation about getting the respect and courtesy you deserve.
Care for others like you want them to care for you. Mark 12:31 is an instruction about how we are to be treated as well as how we are to treat others. My coworker expected nothing but respect from me; however, when I called her out on her behavior, she left the office crying. She wanted to be able to disrespect me but be respected herself. We must remember that to get the respect and love we deserve, we have to treat others with that same respect and love. It may not come back to us through them, but it will return to us! Practice what you preach: begin to show more love and honor in your relationships (but with proper boundaries).
All relationships are a two-way street, but with proper boundaries, you can be authentically responsible and require the respect and courtesy that you deserve!
How do you require respect and courtesy toward yourself?
Authentic Responsibilities #13: I am responsible for expressing myself without disrespecting the other and, when I do, to seek forgiveness and make plans to avoid repeating the disrespect.
image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net
I needed to have a difficult conversation, and I was ready to express myself. I pulled my friend aside to speak to her privately. I told her the truth with no sugar-coating: that in our ministry, no one liked her; that she was bossy; and that she needed to step back from taking over everything and allow more creativity in our group. However, I stressed that—in Christian love—she could still be a part of the group if she would just stop trying to take over. She burst into tears. I hugged her and told her I hated to bear this bad news, but since it was true, someone needed to tell her.
This situation happened in college, and obviously during that time, I was emotionally immature and didn’t handle this well. Authentic responsibility #13 focuses on expressing ourselves without disrespecting others, and apologizing when we do. However, I know better now and want to share with you three ways to conquer this authentic responsibility with ease:
Express your feelings only. Many of our feelings are based on ideas and thoughts that we have assumed about another person/people, not on what is reality. In my situation, I should’ve started out with, “I felt very hurt that you took over, like the established leadership was not good enough.” Notice I named the feeling and the assumption that I had made about her: that I was hurt and that my leadership wasn’t good enough. This communicates what I was feeling and gives an idea about where I stand and why. In addition, I shouldn’t have said what I thought other people thought! Focus on your own feelings and not the other person’s personality, feelings, or assumed thoughts.
Express yourself respectfully. I gave an example of expressing your own feelings. Some call this using “I” statements, but “I think you are dumb” and “I hate it when you…” are also “I” statements—albeit inflammatory, insensitive, and rude ones. The things I said to my friend were disrespectful and hurtful—they did not build her up or strengthen our friendship just because I was “honest.” Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” When you are expressing yourself, choose your words wisely and build others up—don’t tear them down.
Express your sincere apology. There will be times when we express ourselves in a way that is not respectful to others. I thought about doing it (purposefully) to someone this morning! We may not to WANT to express ourselves in a respectful and loving way, and sometimes, that desire is going to become a reality. When it does, however, we need to sincerely apologize to the person we have offended for being rude, hurtful, and disrespectful. James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to each other so that we can be healed, so go to your brother or sister and apologize! I apologized to my friend several years later, and she was gracious and loving—and I was able to move forward in healing.
We are not always going to be perfect in this authentic responsibility—it is a constant struggle for me! However, if we keep these three ideas in mind, we can begin to mature emotionally and be authentically responsible as we express ourselves to others.
How easy is it for you to express yourself to others respectfully?