Gaining Respect by Displaying Exemplary Behavior

The idea of respecting parents and other elders is practically engraved into the minds of all children everywhere from a very young age.  It is certainly important that they know to respect those around them, but it can be hard to put into practice when they are not being shown the respect they too deserve. Yes, deserve! Just as adults deserve politeness and deference, so do children.  Respecting children not only shows them how to treat other people, but it also increases their confidence and self-esteem.

Respect should be given out of love and not just as a result of an adult’s power. Punishments or bribes should never be the driving force behind obtaining your children’s respect.  Each person has value, whether young or old, and respect should be extended in recognition of that value.  Children deserve as much respect as adults because they are valued in the eyes of God.

1 Timothy 4:12 speaks of a message given to Timothy from his mentor, the Apostle Paul.  It was about setting an example for those around him by his maturity of speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Timothy was a young church leader at the time and his youth may have caused some in the church to deem him imprudent.  That is why this message was so significant.  While we cannot be completely clear as to what these people thought of Timothy, we do know that it was important for him to understand how God had called him to present himself as a dedicated follower of Christ and a leader.

Though children and adults alike should regard one another with esteem, this verse discusses certain attributes to be found in young people that build respect:

  • Children are to speak positive words into the lives of others, praise God, and express gratitude for their blessings. That positivity should also extend into their actions.  Negative or curse words do not bring glory to God or establish that the person speaking them is mature.

  • Volunteering for church events and following through on commitments are examples of the conduct of an exemplary child.

  • The described ‘purity’ extends to spiritual purity as well as physical. Do they mean well in all their actions? Is their faith in God strong? The answer to these (and similar) questions should be “yes”.

Just as Paul advised his protégé Timothy, God wants the same from your children. He wants them to know that regardless of their age, they are worthy of respect.  Importantly, they are to carry themselves in a way that is pleasing unto Him and as they do so, they will gain more and more respect from those around them.

Mentors Wanted – Will You Apply?

    People frequently complain about the direction that many of our young men and women are going.  Music, clothing, hair, speech – all of these are subjects of complaints.  Instead of complaining though, I believe that we should diligently seek to bring assistance.  That’s where mentors are needed.

    When was the last time that you mentored a child or young adult?  The Apostle Paul is a very good example for us to follow.  He was a mentor to young Timothy, whom Paul referred to as “his true son in the faith”.   Paul knew both Timothy’s mother, Eunice, who converted to the faith, and his grandmother, Lois.  Paul credited much of Timothy’s good upbringing to his mother and grandmother. As a mentor, you should get to know the child’s family as that will help you fully understand the child. 

    Paul spent a lot of time with Timothy as they often traveled and ministered together.  Timothy was in a unique position to walk daily side by side with Paul, listen to Paul, and learn from Paul’s preaching as well as observe his demeanor. Timothy was dedicated to Paul and serving God, and as a result, Paul referred to him as “his fellow worker”.   As a mentor, you should spend time with the child so the child can learn from you. Remember that you are serving as a role model, so be extremely attentive to your every word and movement.  

    Paul frequently expressed his praise and love for Timothy.  Paul referred to him as his faithful son and his beloved child. He was proud to send Timothy to help others as Timothy had served him well and publicly commended Timothy’s service to him - as a child serves a father.  As a mentor, you should encourage and praise a child often.  Look for the good rather than the bad.  

    Don’t complain – help.  Our children and young adults need your assistance in mentoring them.