Posted by: Mike Willoughby | April 12, 2011

Relationship Matters

Over the next few weeks I would like to spend some time thinking about how we work within our relationships.  Relationships are like gardens.  They need to be carefully cultivated in order to thrive.  I sometimes forget my gardens in the backyard need attention until one day I notice the nasty weeds that have popped up among the plants and the flowers are all wilting from lack of water.  (Why do the weeds thrive with no water while the flowers pass out?)  Should I be any less surprised when weeds figuratively pop up in my unattended relationships?

Before spending time on the practical details of maintaining good relationships, I want to spend this time laying the right foundation.  All successful gardens start with the careful preparation of the foundation of the garden – the soil.  Without good soil the garden will not flourish.  The foundation for every good relationship is respect.

I believe the concept of “respect” is often misunderstood.  Respect is not to be confused with admiration.  Admiration must be earned by the good works and high moral character of the recipient.  Our kids’ role models are examples of the difference.  Role models are worthy of admiration as long as they uphold their obligation to set a good example with their behavior, choices and speech.  When they fail at their obligation (as they frequently do) they may no longer deserve our admiration depending on how they deal with their failure.

Respect is granted in various degrees to someone because of their inherent value and/or their position of authority.  Positional respect is deserved and should be granted to someone in authority even if I don’t admire the individual.  For instance with regard to various US Presidents past and present, you sometimes hear people say they respect the office but not the man.  I don’t think this is valid concept.  Over and over the Bible teaches respect for authority even when the individual has not earned admiration.  The example of David’s respect for King Saul even in the face of the King’s irrational murderous intent toward David comes to mind.  I may not admire the President but I owe him my respect.

Unlike positional respect, inherent respect should be granted to every individual because of their inherent value as a human being.  I think this is something that is sorely lacking in our world today.  The relationship gardens we try to maintain are too often not founded in the rich soil of inherent respect for the other person.  Without respect, it is inevitable that we will mistreat each other as we act out of selfish interest and disregard for the other’s highest and best interest.

Why do I believe each human being has inherent value?  Because the Bible tells me so!  Did you know that in the next life God has placed us in a position of respect even above the angels?  Do we respect each other in the same way?  Even in this life we are esteemed by God just slightly lower than the angels.  Read the following two passages for reference.

Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.

                Hebrews 2:5-8

Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

                I Corinthians 6:3

Now I don’t know exactly what that “judging angels” reference means completely but I know it sounds like a very important job in the next life!  Since God esteems each of us in this way, who are we to hold back our respect and esteem for one another?  In the fertile soil of mutual respect and esteem, amazing relationship fruit will come forth.

This week, let’s all work on showing a little respect for our fellow humans.  God showed us how!

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

Previous Intersections Articles

Hope is a Strategy! (Part 3) Hope is a Strategy! (Part 2) Hope is a Strategy! (Part 1)

Copyright © 2011 Michael Willoughby. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to author and/or owner with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Thank you for the good words Mike. I appreciate your thoughts on respect for leaders even when we disagree. Several years ago I stopped watching & listening to political debate on radio & TV. The insults and harsh judgements on both sides were making me ill. God Bless Brutha!

    • Thanks, Chris! I found myself replacing the talk radio and TV with other content as well. I would end up at my destination “all wound up” for no real reason just from the tension created on these shows. The personal disrespect was also disappointing to me as well as the disrespect routinely displayed to political leaders. I appreciate the blessing of free speech, but I think free speech is also a big responsibility.

      Thanks for reading Intersections and especially for commenting!


  2. this is so true in the busy lives we lead we forget to connect with others who would appreciate a kind word or a call from us. It has been almost a year since I lost Phil and I still remember all the kindness done for me during that time and still continues. God placed this spirit of love for us to use for others and to not forget how blessed each breath we take is keep up the good inspiring words

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