Respect Yourself

Jim and Kathy McGinnis

I can’t get no respect.” This over-used phrase from a comedian was his signature one-liner, but it raises a lot of interesting questions: What is respect? How do we “get” it? How do we give it? Does everybody deserve respect?

Jesus seemed pretty clear in his answers, especially when he said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, NRSV), and when he emphatically told us that the greatest commandment was “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul . . . and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27, NRSV).

Respecting both yourself and others is part of building a peaceful world and following Jesus. A group called Families Against Violence has put out a Family and School Pledge of Nonviolence. In the first part of that pledge, a person promises to respect self and others. This includes respecting yourself; affirming others; avoiding uncaring criticism, hateful words, and physical attacks; and avoiding self-destructive behavior.

Before promising something like this, however, we should ask ourselves some questions. Take this survey. Find out how respectful you are.

Respecting Myself — Do I . . .

  • really see myself as a person of worth, loved and accepted by God?
  • look for opportunities to try new things?
  • devozine 200166564-001feel good about how I solve problems?
  • know when to ask for help?
  • avoid “pity parties” (“poor me” or “why me”)?
  • know how to disagree with others while still being respectful of them?
  • cultivate in myself a sense of humor?
  • have hopes and dreams?
  • admit when I make a mistake, apologize if someone’s been hurt, look at what needs to change, and then try again?

Affirming Others — Do I . . .

  • welcome newcomers at my school, church, social group?
  • really listen to another person?
  • tune in to others’ feelings, letting them know that I hear what they are saying, rather than responding with, “You shouldn’t feel that way”?
  • really celebrate others (especially on their birthdays)?
  • look for ways to be of service to others?
  • look for ways to celebrate differences in others, rather than to be put off by them?

Avoiding Uncaring Criticism, Hateful Words & Physical Attacks — Do I . . .

  • devozine Bully FTR TS138018602look carefully at how competitive I am in certain settings — for instance, sports or academics? Do I put others down? Do I try to “win” at any cost?
  • ever take part in name calling? making fun of someone else?
  • label people because of some physical characteristic?
  • use stereotypes when referring to others?
  • stand up for someone who is being put down by others?
  • know how to solve conflicts without physically or emotionally hurting someone else?

Avoiding Self-Destructive Behavior — Do I . . .

  • know where to get help when I feel really frustrated or down?
  • avoid putting myself down in front of others?
  • respect myself enough to be able to stay away from drugs and alcohol?
  • hang out with others who have a healthy attitude about sexuality?
  • make good choices about my health?


Friends FTR TS 86521081DIG DEEPER

Read Psalm 139:14 and Psalm 8:3–8. Look back over your survey answers. Which area of respect do you most need to work on?

PRAY: Loving Creator, thank you for all that I am and all that I can be. Help me to act as if I really believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Strengthen me so that I always treat others with respect and dignity because of the simple fact that you made them so special. Amen.

Jim and Kathy McGinnis were directors of The Institute for Peace and Justice when they wrote this article.

—from devozine (January/February 1999). Copyright © 1998 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

Back To Home

To Order Devozine Magazine, call 1.800.972.0433.