Let me ask you a very serious question: do you always deserve your children's respect?
Got a picture in your head? If you're like me, you're thinking of all the ways you've blown it in the past: the times you've blown up, the times you've acted in a disrespectful manner...the many, many "mommy fails" on the bumpy road of parenthood.
Now, let me ask you this: do you always demand respect from your children?
For most of us, this is a resounding YES! Most of us understand that, despite the fact that we don't act in a manner that deserves respect 24-7 (we are human, after all), we certainly have to demand respect from our children simply because we have a position of authority over them.
We have to teach our children that, even though we, as parents, are not perfect, they still have to respect our authority.
After all, if we don't teach them that now, then how will they ever hold down jobs or become respectable citizens?!
Furthermore, let's face it: households run in chaos, with the kids only respecting parents when and if they deserve it, are a recipe for disaster. God's word says:
Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right.Honor your father and mother,which is the first commandment with a promise,so that it may go well with youand you may have a long life in the land.Ephesians 6:1-3 (emphasis added)
The Bible goes on to command parents not to stir up anger in children, but to bring them up in the instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). However, God was wise enough not to make their obedience to us and their respect toward us conditional upon our own behavior. THANK YOU, LORD!
So, let me ask you another question: are you a wife that is denying your husband the respect the Bible says he deserves by virtue of HIS position of authority because you don't feel he deserves it?
BAM...that hits hard, right? I'm going to let that sink in for a second.
I had two posts a couple weeks ago (here and here) that discussed a wife's duty, according to scripture, to submit to her own husband (Ephesians 5:22-24). Afterward, I had a few wives comment to me that they really struggled with biblical submission toward their husbands for various reasons, but it basically amounted to the fact that they didn't feel like their husbands deserved their submission...their respect.
Here's the deal, ladies. Submission isn't blindly and silently following the leader. You are your husband's partner!! You advise and make decisions together, consult and discuss...but all with a manner that belies your respect for his God-given authority to make the final decision.
If you're still having difficulty with this, let me re-frame it for you. Ephesians 5:25-31 speaks to husbands, and tells them to love their wives as Christ loved the church: sacrificially. The word for love in that passage is agape, and as we've all been taught, that represents a divine love: a love that comes through grace, not because we deserve it, but in spite of the fact that we don't.
As wives, our hearts scream this to our husbands even when our mouths don't: you're called to LOVE me! The Bible tells me so!!
But ladies...do you feel like you have to earn his love? Do you always act in a manner that is deserving of that holy, sacrificial love? The same love Christ gave when he died on the cross for you?
We could never earn that?!?! We don't have to earn love from our husbands!
We don't have to earn our children's respect! We should get both just by nature of our position in the family, right?!
Why, then, are you making your husband earn YOUR respect, despite HIS God-given position in your family?
Ladies, don't get me wrong: this is hard. If it wasn't hard, we wouldn't need Jesus to accomplish it. We wouldn't need to die to ourselves each and every day and take up our cross and follow him if it was easy.
Furthermore, let me be clear, I'm no better at this than you. I am not on a mountaintop looking down at your struggle, but alongside you, climbing the mountain, saying I know it's hard, sisters, but we have to forge ahead, trusting in God to get us to the top!!
If you're wrestling with this (the same as all the rest of us), I'd strongly recommend reading Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. That's what I've been reading, and it's challenging, but in such a good way. I can't say that I haven't been wanting to write this blog post for a long time, since long before I picked up his book, but reading his words did give me some inspiration and got the cogs of my brain turning in the right direction.
Pray about this, sisters. If you feel conviction in this area, please don't harden your hearts to the calling of the Spirit within you or let this be just one more thing that makes you feel guilt and shame because you just don't think you can change.
Circumcise your hearts, call out to God in your pain and confusion, and ask him for wisdom and strength, but do so with faith that He will answer because He is a God who gives to the faithful generously and without criticism (James 1:5-8).
I love you all, my sisters in Christ, and I'm praying God will help us on our quest to mature and grown in Him!!
**Disclaimer: I know someone is going to say, "but what if authority is telling you to do something wrong?!" I'm just going to ask for a general application of common sense and submission to God's word here. Obviously, God is our ultimate authority and we are responsible to him first. No one can overrule His authority. This post assumes the demands placed by authority are in alignment with God's word.**