Saturday, March 15, 2014

1 Peter 5:5 -- On Listening and Respecting

"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."
1 Peter 5:5

This humility and submission stuff is hard for us sometimes.  It might be because we feel like we have to work so hard to be respected, and it feels like giving up... asking us to knuckle under to someone else just because they have a cooler title, or (as in this verse) older than we are.  It's hard to apologize when we think that we're right and the other person is wrong.  It is hard to let go of our defensiveness and realize that it is more important to build a relationship than it is to be right.
With God it's about respect and deference, right?  We know that he knows more than we do, so it is natural and mostly obvious that we should defer to his will.  ... Since with him it makes sense, let's try it that way with other people.  We want to be respected, and deferred to when we know the answer.  So, let's try treating other people the way that we would like to be treated.  Respecting them, and deferring to them.  Giving people the benefit of the doubt, and really listening to their ideas and solutions before jumping in and attacking them or trying to get our way.  That's one way to defer... by listening and understanding before talking and trying to convince.
I think this is important with people with more power than we have, because we have more of a tendency to rebel and feel resistant or defensive in those situations... plus, it is a place where people might expect deference and respect.  Building those relationships is more important than proving that we are just as good. :)  I think it is also the best way to be heard.  To first listen, understand, and really give them all the respect and deference that we want.  And then acknowledge their input/wisdom/idea, and ask questions to see if there is a way for both sides to accomplish what they are working for.
I also think it is ultra important with people who have less power than we do... because we have a tendency to listen less and to dismiss ideas when people don't have as much experience as we do.  Think about the way we treat children sometimes.  We laugh at their ideas, but their ideas are actually usually pretty awesome considering their experience.  Let's try not to laugh at people or disrespect them just because they have less information or experience.  Let's try to help them and teach them instead... without mockery, and with respect and deference to their priorities and needs.  And let's give them a real chance to contribute, and listen to their ideas and see if ours can be modified and made better with input.  We have to consider that we might be wrong, or that we haven't thought of all of the possibilities.
God asks us here to "be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility."  I think that means that in a lot of ways we have to stop the power struggling.  We have to stop worrying about who has what title or who is older and all of it... and show respect and deference to everyone.  The homeless guy, the president... doesn't matter.  If we can step outside of the expectations of social structure for a moment and just listen to people, and respect them because they are people... because they are our brothers and sisters... I think that we will come a lot closer to Zion and perfection than we will if we always expect our ideas to triumph. :)

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