There seem to be so many things we can do to help ourselves become who we hope to be. The one thing we can’t do for ourselves is make others have respect for us. All the hard work, energy, strategy, education, manipulation and ambition can’t give us the one quality we all long for … respect. This is a quality that is achieved over a lifetime that’s made up of a million tiny decisions.
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely.” (Proverbs 10:9)
I like to watch the BBC. Their clothes, their speech and their manner fascinate me. As I watch shows like Downton Abby, and other movies from that country and time period, I always end up feeling so sad for these people. Public opinion is what they lived and died by, quite literally, I’m afraid. They are so proper and ridged that they, many times, have to live a kind of false facade of a life. They are given respect based on their position in society, not on their character. They treat people the way their cast system determines. I, for one, am very grateful to be an American and have the freedom to be who I am and say what I determine is best. Most often, I wish I hadn’t said anything … but there are other times when I’m glad I spoke up. It’s my choice as to what kind of person I want to be.
I’ve been brought up and guided by many wonderful Christ-like people who poured cups of themselves into the pitcher of my life. After being stirred around for years, mixing all these varied flavors, I think I am a unique blend of Sheri Riley Langley.
We are told in scripture we are uniquely and wonderfully made. There are consistently times it was necessary to get bumped, having some unsavory cups sloshed out to make room for a sweeter cup here and there. Yet, the blend is select for me. The very best part is that of being a child of God — a joint heir of the Lord Jesus Christ. He does the work in me.
I try, as a rule, to always put my best foot forward. The pressure to behave in a way that pleases others, however, is not my main concern, at all. My main concern is to behave in a way that honors Jesus. That way others can clearly see Him without my getting in the way. Whew! Pressure off! So slosh me away, I’m praying it’s Jesus who gets all over you!
Do I want to be highly regarded in the eyes of people who know me? Who doesn’t? When push comes to shove and I behave badly, I pray I will always own it, confess it and repent before God and man. I don’t want people to walk away from me and say, “My, isn’t our pastor’s wife a wonderful person.” I want people to walk away and say, “She is just like me — a real, broken, leaky vessel who desperately needs Jesus every second of every day. If I make a stupid decision I hope they see me admit it and watch me attempt to make it right. It is a code I live by … “as far as it depends on me to be at peace with all men.” (Rms. 12:18)
Daniel always comes to mind when I think of integrity and character. A life being above reproach … that was Daniel. Scripture says that “he distinguished himself among the administrators . . . because of his exceptional qualities,” so much so that, “they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (Daniel 6:3-4). What a guy! I love Daniel and certainly highly regard this chap.
For a healing exercise this week I sat and wrote down the names of every person God brought to mind who truly knows me and loves me. These people who rise to the top when I run through the contact list in my mind from 50 plus years are people who made a million tiny decisions everyday to live a life of integrity before God and man. There is no way to hold back tears as I see those names on ink and paper. Joyful memories flooding my soul as I rejoice in knowing we will all be together again for eternity. These are my people.
The kinds of people who deserve honor are exactly the ones who would never seek the praise of men. Ironically, this is why they deserve respect, honor and praise. They are humble, honest, true, genuine, trustworthy and faithful. They are respected and loved deeply by anyone who knows them.
No, you can’t ask people for respect. It can’t be given, it is earned by a million tiny choices made everyday of your life.
My husband, Bill’s, father Dr. Langley is one of those people for me and for more people than I could count in Elizabethtown, Ky and beyond. He was the real deal. I literally couldn’t give you an accurate figure for the number of people who have recounted stories of what Dr. Langley meant in their life, priceless! No, you can’t ask people for respect. It can’t be given, it is earned by a million tiny choices made everyday of your life.
This one’s for you Dad Langley, and all those seated up with you now and those to come who will receive the true crown in glory. Until then, as I review my list may I say, you are some of the finest people I’ve ever known. Integrity, respect, humility, honesty, faithfulness, selfless and kind… You are indeed highly regarded.
The greatest thing to hear will be one day when standing before Jesus, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
What do others say to describe you? Seek to be the kind of person that people regard highly. But more importantly, seek to help people see Jesus when they look at you so they can know Him too. Start today making a million tiny choices that lead to a life of respect and honor.