Summer Wise Summer Not

Week 7 – How to Earn the Respect of Others

We’ve been in a series called Summer Wise – Summer Not, looking at a variety of themes from the book of Proverbs. Today we are going to look at a topic you probably haven’t heard addressed at church before – “How to Earn the Respect of Others”.

We all remember Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T tell me what you think of me, and the more chronologically advanced among us will never forget Rodney Dangerfield’s career of complaining that he couldn’t get any respect.

One of our deepest desires in life is to be respected, to be valued, and to have a good reputation. God says that’s OK. “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.” – Proverbs 22:1 (NLT)

I think it would be fair to say that self-worth is more important than net worth. People are all about image these days. They are constantly concerned about how they look to others. Their goal is to impress the people around them. And yet, we will learn from the Word of God that

The key to a good reputation is CHARACTER not IMAGE.

Reputation is who others think you are. Character is who you really are. Character is who you are in the dark. Character is what you have left when everything else is stripped away. It’s those inner attitudes, motives, desires, and drives that make you who you are when no one else is looking. The Bible says that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. He sees us on the inside – which is what really matters.

Today, it seems like we’re more interested in image than character.
It is easy to find an image consultant, but where do we find the character consultants? The Word of God tells us that character is what produces respect. There are…

Four Characteristics of People We Respect:

Build these four characteristics into your life and your self-esteem will soar, you’ll feel good about yourself, and you will earn the respect of others.

1. Speak with INTEGRITY.

Integrity is a major theme in the book of Proverbs. The Bible says that integrity is more important than image. This is the foundation of everything else. “Respected people do not tell lies.” – Proverbs 17:7 (GNT)

We admire people who are honest. We look up to people who have integrity, don’t we? Integrity involves more than honesty. It involves dependability. Do you ever make promises you have no intention of keeping?

Some common unkept promises: I’ll get on it right away. I’ll see to that myself. I’ll return it as soon as I’m done with it. I’ll pay you back as soon as I’m paid. I won’t go out with anyone but you. I’ll be home at 6 p.m., honey. I’ll take you fishing someday, son. We’ll start attending church soon. When I get a raise, we’ll start tithing. I’ll start my diet tomorrow.”

Napoleon said, “Promise everything, deliver nothing.” There is a man who lacks integrity. “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” – Proverbs 10:9 (NLT) Another translation says, “The man of integrity walks securely.”

When you have integrity, you don’t have to have a good memory because you don’t have to remember the lies you told other people and cover them up. Do you have integrity? You know the answer. What if I were to ask your spouse, or your kids? What would they say?

How about the people you work with, your colleagues, or how about your competitors? Can you be counted on to tell the truth…all the time? You can count on this; A person’s reputation and integrity will be tested. Would you pass the integrity test? I hope that you would.

2. SERVE with intensity.

This is about being eager to help others, enthusiastic about doing good, interested in serving others. “You will earn the trust and respect of others if you work for good.” – Proverbs 14:22a It is easier to talk about serving others than to do it, isn’t it?

Most of us grew up in the “me” generation. So often our focus is on what we can get, not on what we can give. Most of us aren’t accustomed to asking, what we can give.
Instead, we ask, what is in it for me?

People ask it at work, at church, and in life. What can I get out of this? How will you take care of me? What will you do for me? Instead of asking, what can I get, what if we were to ask, what can I give? The definition of success is starting to include some form of serving others.

Jesus said it like this: If you want to be great you must learn to be the servant of all. That’s a fairly foreign concept for many people in our society. Have you ever heard anyone say, “When I grow up I want to be a servant.” Jesus was a servant. He modeled servanthood. He calls us to serve others

I love the way Mother Teresa put it. She said, “It’s not what we do that matters, but how much love we put into it.” – Mother Teresa That would be consistent with the teaching of Jesus. Our serving is to be motivated by love. “If your goals are good, you will be respected…” – Proverbs 11:27a (GNT) The secret of success is to find a need and fill it. Find a way to help other people.

There is really no such thing as great people. There are just ordinary people who do great things. They are committed to great causes. When ordinary people are committed to great causes it brings out greatness in their lives.

What are you living for? Solomon says, “If your goals are good, you’ll be respected.” Do you have good goals or are your goals more self-serving goals – like the goal to make a lot of money? Do you have any goals that are greater than your life?
What is your big dream? Have you committed some time each week, or each month to help and serve others? How much time are you giving in unselfish service to others?

And once you get that figured out, let me ask you this. How much love do you put into your service? I hope your service is not about meeting a quota or getting a checkmark. Make sure your motive for serving is love. It is not about posturing, or image.

Don’t worry if they never got your name or nobody snapped a picture. It is ok that you story of service never made it to social media. That is not what it is about. The Bible says when you speak with integrity and when we serve with intensity that brings respect. We are not there to benefit personally. We are there to follow the example of Christ. It has been said that “Great occasions for serving God seldom come, but little opportunities surround us daily.”

3. Share with GENEROSITY.

People who are respected are generous people. “He gives generously to the needy, and his kindness never fails; he will be powerful and respected.” – Psalm 112:9 (GNT) If you want to be respected in life, be generous. Share with generosity. Give generously.

Andrew Carnegie was a well-known industrialist and philanthropist once made this statement…”I spent the first half of my life making money and the second half of my life giving it away to do the most good and the least harm.” That’s exactly what he did. He gave away over 450 million dollars in his lifetime.

He had made some contributions prior to 1901. But after that, giving away his wealth became his new occupation. Compare his story with the story of seven men who lived about the same time. In 1923, a very important meeting was held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.

In attendance were some of the world’s most successful financiers, men who had apparently found the secret of success when it comes to making money.

Now, a century later, listen to what happened to a few of these men.

Charles M. Schwab was the president of the largest independent steel company, Bethlehem Steel. He spent his last years in a small apartment. He could no longer afford to pay the taxes on a property that was being seized by creditors. At his death, Schwab’s holdings in Bethlehem Steel were virtually worthless, and he was over $300,000 in debt.

Samuel Insull was the president of the nation’s largest utility company. When he died of a heart attack, his estate was found to be worth about $1,000 and his debts totaled $14,000,000.

Howard Hopson built one of the era’s largest electricity providing companies was convicted of defrauding Americans of more than $20 million (which would be roughly 324 million dollars by today’s standards).

Richard Whitney was an American financier, president of the New York Stock Exchange from 1930 to 1935. He was convicted of embezzlement and imprisoned

Jesse Livermore considered the pioneer of day trading died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Ivar Kreuger referred to by one biographer, as a genius and swindler. He held controlling interest in more than 25 companies. A successful civil engineer, financier, entrepreneur and industrialist. The head of a great monopoly, some referred to as a Ponzi scheme, Krueger, died a suicide.

All of these men learned well the art of making money, but apparently, they never really learned how to live. The amazing thing, now just one century later, is that with the exception of Charles Schwab, few people will recognize any of these names. Yet these men, controlled more wealth than the United States had in the entire treasury, just a century ago. They were all contemporaries of Andrew Carnegie.

People typically aren’t remembered for what they have, or what they receive. People are honored and remembered for what they give away. That’s why we remember Andrew Carnegie. You have probably heard of the Carnegie Foundation or the Carnegie Endowment that is still making a difference 112 years later. “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) It’s kind of like giving blood. When you give it away, God has a way of restoring and replenishing it in your own life.

You cannot outgive God — in time, money, effort, energy, service, etc. Whatever you have given away, God restores and gives back in greater measure than before. In fact, the Christian life can be summarized in one word – GIVE. That’s the Christian life in a nutshell. God so loved the world that He gave.

4. Succeed with HUMILITY.

“Arrogance will bring your downfall but if you are humble you will be respected.” – Proverbs 29:23 (GNT) Have you ever seen success ruin a person? It happens so often. Have you ever wondered how greater success might affect you? The Bible says we are to clothe ourselves in humility. When you’re clothed in humility you’re dressed for success. “No one is respected unless he is humble; arrogant people are on the way to ruin.” – Proverbs 18:12 (GNT) “Pride goes before destruction…” – Proverbs 16:18 a (NIV)

So often, we think that the way to be respected is to pretend that we’re perfect.
That kind of arrogance turns people off. But humility is attractive. “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.” – Proverbs 27:21 (NLT) Succeed with humility because praise is the test of character.

How do you handle praise? Someone said, “Praise is like bubble gum, you ought to enjoy it but never swallow it!” Humility is not putting yourself down. Humility is not denying your strengths. We all have strengths and abilities. Just remember where they came from. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses and the Source of your strength. The Bible says you can be proud of what you yourself have done, without having to compare it with what someone else has done. (Galatians 6:4)

Take pride that you’re developing Godly character. Take pride in the fact that you’re raising a Godly family. Humility doesn’t mean ignoring the successes in your life. It just means you give credit where credit is due. You succeed with humility. Character is always a matter of CHOICE. Character is determined by the choices we make each day. It is up to you and me.

You cannot control the circumstances in your life, but you can control your character. I think all of us have seen how someone’s mage can be changed overnight. But character is developed over a lifetime. What are you most interested in anyway – image or character? Are you more concerned about what people think? Or how you look? Or is your greater concern about what God thinks about your life?

Romans 8:29 tells us that God’s purpose for your life is to make you like Jesus Christ. God wants us to develop Christlike character. He wants us to be like Jesus. And God is using the circumstances in our lives each day to develop character and refine in us the image of Jesus. Jesus spoke with integrity, served with intensity, shared with generosity, and succeeded with humility. And God wants you and me to be just like Him.

Jesus said, “I came to serve not to be served”. That is the exact opposite of a society that says – “What’s in it for me?” The problem for so many Christians is that we want to be servants of God, but we don’t want to serve anybody else. Serving God is an honor but serving others sometimes seem like a pain in the neck.

The fact is You can serve people without SERVING God, but you cannot serve GOD without serving PEOPLE. There are a lot of areas that need our help out there in the world. Find a place to get involved and make a difference. You can serve in the church (Point Kids), in the community (Clarity, Anchor House, Food Pantry), or you can do random acts of kindness and service on your own.

This is the wisdom of Solomon from the book of Proverbs. He reminds us again that Summer Wise and Summer Not. I want to be wise, don’t you? What we’ve talked about this morning is the exact opposite of our culture. Culture says live for yourself, pretend you’re perfect, set up an image and hopefully people will respect you.

God says, “No, no, no. How about you give your life away?” Speak with integrity because respected people don’t tell lies. Keep your promises. Serve with intensity. You’ll earn the trust and respect of others if you work for good. Do you want to make a difference in the world? Do you want to make your life count?

Fulfillment is the byproduct of service. Share with generosity. I don’t want to look at how little I can give but how much I can give of my time, energy, service, money.” I think Solomon would tell us, that is how you succeed with humility.