“Reverence begins in a deep understanding of human limitations; from this grows the capacity to be in awe of whatever we believe lies outside our control—God, truth, justice, nature, even death.
The capacity for awe, as it grows, brings with it the capacity for respecting fellow human beings, flaws and all.” So says Paul Woodruff in his book Reverence, Renewing a Forgotten Virtue.
The difference between reverence and respect
Reverence and respect are close cousins, but not twins. Humility is found in both, yet only reverence honors in a way that respect cannot. Reverence lives in the heart, where as respect resides in the mind.
Respect can be taught and given without a heart connection, but reverence can’t—reverence flows from the heart.
You can respect wrong things and people, but you can’t reverence wrong things or people in a life giving way. Reverence stands as the wellspring of respect.
Indications that reverence is a lost art
I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself losing the capacity for reverence in little ways—and it scares me.
- I’ve been known to call my son on his cell phone while he is doing homework in his bedroom instead of walking down the hall to talk with him face to face.
- I grow frustrated with people who can’t always comprehend what I am trying to explain.
- It becomes easier to set dinner out on the counter and let the family eat on the run instead of sitting down as a family to have dinner and talk over our day.
- I can mentally dismiss people if they fall short of my expectations or have flaws that irritate me.
- I’ll notice the orange sunset as I pass my living room windows, but not stop to reverence the God who created the sunset.
How about you, can you relate to any of the above? (Now—on to the positive….)
Recovering the lost art of reverencing others
Our capacity for reverence is diminished in a culture full of fast food, fast technology, and little commitment. How much of this erosion spills over into our relationship with God? More than we realize I suspect.
Here are some tips for recovering the lost art of reverencing others.
- Worship God from a place of awe and do so often. It is from this position that reverence flows.
- Talk with people face to face more than by phone or email.
- Realize that frustration with others can lead to a lack of reverence for them—catch yourself and put reverence first. It will change the way you communicate.
- Stand in awe of others—see the image of God in them—even people that drive you nuts. They are valued and loved by God, and they belong to him. Reverence him and reverence his kids.
- Take time—intentionally be present to people. Take the time that is needed to be with people physically, mentally, and spiritually.
So, what can you add to my two lists above? Where do you lack reverence and what tips can you share for recovering the lost art of reverence?
In Him together, Susan Gaddis