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.