The heart of a man dries up without words of encouragement. But the gift of respect can flood his life with hope. Let’s listen well.
All he wanted was some whispers of thankfulness.
Some acknowledgment that what he did mattered. He had worked hard all day, fought his battles, and sweated out a song. Now Otis wanted to come home and be told ‘Well done.’
He wanted his remembered movements to be noticed, affirmed, and validated as having value, particularly to his soul mate, his wife.
I believe Otis Redding wrote the song ‘Respect’ with those thoughts in mind.
Aretha Franklin changed the lyrics and the music and turned it into an anthem for both the women’s rights movement and the black freedom struggles.
Redding’s version was written from the perspective of a hardworking man who can only look forward to getting home and finally receiving the respect he deserves from his family. His version is less a plea for respect and more a comment on a man’s feeling of worth in his work life and at home. He mentions that he’s “about to, just give you all of my money,” and that all he wants in return is respect.
Franklin’s version [she changed the lyrics] is a declaration from a strong, confident woman, who knows that she has everything her man wants. She never does him wrong and demands his “respect.” Respect – Wikipedia
You can’t demand respect. It’s a gift from a considered observation.
What is respect?
It’s interesting to dig into the Greek language and discover something of what this word means.
phobeó – to show reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience
It also has some fear-based connotations – to put to flight, to terrify, frighten.
But in the context of healthy relationships, it’s about seeing something almost god-like in the other. Something that captures your attention and admiration.
We are not in a relationship with a mere mortal as C.S. Lewis would put it.
Pulling back the curtain of a man’s fumblings and foolishness, we might see something that makes us stand in awe. That’s respect.
The greater story
There is a greater story going on, one that has been going on forever, and we are all part of it.
I can trace a few verses of my story back to 150 years ago to where a young man in England boarded a sailing ship and ventured off to a distant foreign land called New Zealand.
Could my story include listening to one of the greatest biblical orators of ‘our’ time?
I wonder if Charles Pearman remembered the story of Abraham leaving the comforts of his home and venturing out into the great unknown.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. Genesis 12:1
Charles and Abraham remembered and moved.
I remember something of God’s nature and character and move into my world to bring something of the greater story to bear. My children are doing the same. I see the strands of an invisible thread knitting its way through our lives.
Invisible threads are the strongest ties.
Respect is a gift
Aretha might have been demanding respect, but really it’s a gift.
Men and women who demand you respect them lose it in an instant. That’s called authoritarian leadership, dictatorship, demandingness — all repugnant.
Respect is an acknowledgment of seeing something in the other that makes your heart sing. It’s seeing the remembered movement of a dance that’s been going on forever and cheering on the steps.
How to give the gift of respect to a man
If you want to listen to a man, then listen for the remembered movements he makes.
Every man wants to have some sense of acknowledgment that his life has weight. That there is a good consequence to his remembered movements.
- Become a student of awareness
Take note of what he does. How he does it. What seems to make him ‘fully alive.’
I have a builder working on my home at the moment. He is very careful and precise with his measurements. He lets me know what time he will be at our home. He has helpful suggestions about what is needed for the job. It seems that he is ‘fully alive’ with a hammer in his hand.
- Look for a connection to the greater story.
There is a greater, larger story going on that most men are unaware that they are connected in to.
I see in my builder the story of millions of men who have shown up for work every day. Building, creating, restoring, bringing order to a disordered world.
- Verbalise thankfulness
Respect grow outs of thankfulness. We see a remembered movement and are thankful for it.
I observe the workmanship, and then with a specific focus, I acknowledge the movement.
‘I so appreciated you texting me each day when you would be coming next. It helped me plan. Thanks for your suggestions too, there is a lot of wisdom behind your ideas. Well done.’
These three steps may seem weird to you, but practice them and watch a mans life grow
Quotes to consider
- Praise and encouragement are much more effective in changing others’ behavior than is criticism, but which do you use on yourself? D. Riddell
- The Glory of God is man fully alive. St Irenaeus
- It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. The Weight of Glory
Questions to answer
- What does the word ‘respect’ mean to you?
- Men can often feel entitled and demand respect. Why does this never work for them or others?
- What is the larger story that a man you know connects into?