Sage Advice From Uncle Bob
Luis would not keep up and was not getting it. At 60 years old, Luis worked in the warehouse at The Lamor Company during the day and then bussed tables at night. He had lived a less than cush life, having moved to Texas from Mexico when my relatives sold the brick plant where he worked. He was offered a job at The Lamor Company in Houston and he took it. Luis was just working to keep his head above water and so he paced himself in the warehouse, working slow and steady.
Dad, having just graduated from college, was like most of us who graduate from college - he was omniscient (all-knowing). Uncle Bob, my dad's uncle and boss, gave my dad some responsibility over the warehouse so dad outranked Luis. Dad was - and still is - a go-getter and so this was a mismatch of a tortoise and a hare, the hare being 40 years younger.
As my dad tells it, his frustration boiled over and he went to talk to Uncle Bob. I told Luis to do this and that and he didn't. I told him...Always a great listener, Uncle Bob leaned back in his chair with an L&M cigarette in one hand. With the other, he would pin ashes to his tidy desk with his middle finger and sweep them away. No clutter or errant ashes would be tolerated. He listened intently while he smoked and pinned ashes.
Uncle Bob listened to the youthful monologue for long enough and then spoke: "Buddy, let me tell you something I learned in the Navy. You can command respect but you cannot demand respect. It sounds like you have some work to do with Luis."
You can command respect but you cannot demand respect. Commanding respect means taking action that makes people want to respect you. In 1 Timothy 4:12 Paul writes to Timothy and tells him not to let anyone despise him for his youth. Paul's message was not a license for Timothy to be hyper-defensive about his age, but rather Paul explains how to command respect:
"...set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."
Demanding respect is wielding authority like a club. I remember a beer commercial years ago that said "nothing says 'I'm important' like screaming 'I'm important' into your cell phone." Demanding respect is kind of like that.
Our ultimate example of this is Jesus. Jesus was humble, nothing special to look at (Isaiah 53:2), rode a donkey, and He washed the filth off the feet of his buddies. This was the king of the world. He was strong and brave and brilliant but felt no need to broadcast His virtues or status. He just lived them out and people followed.
Photo credit: nosha via Flickr