Thursday morning, I grabbed my usual cup of hot, black coffee and hunkered down on the brown leather sofa in our family room to watch a bit of news. The lead story wasn’t about a natural disaster or political wrangling, or revelation of horrific abuse.
Instead, the early-morning news focused on the death of the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin. I loved listening to this amazing talent belt out a signature song, “Respect.” What a gift God gave Aretha Franklin, who I learned this morning was remarkable—not only musically. Respect seemed to be something Ms. Franklin sang about and practiced in business, interpersonal relationships and her Christian faith.
Today’s post, though, isn’t about Aretha Franklin. Rather, I’d like to discuss recent news topics and how the matter of respect relates to personal experiences. To maintain my commitment to writing brief posts, I will cover only one news topic at a time.
I’ll begin by stating, “I’ve been around the proverbial ‘block’ a time or two!”
I’m neither unaware nor naïve to the reality of human suffering.
Working in the field of counseling for many years, I’ve heard stories filled with sadness, victimization, stolen innocence and thousands of missteps. I’ve been privy to narratives about abuse from parents, teachers, bosses and religious leaders.
Disgusting behavior and wicked forces are real!
But, r-e-s-p-e-c-t is also real, and respect is my focus today.
Back to news headlines and the first topic of this respect-discussion…
Several months ago, we were introduced to the “Me Too Movement.” As stories of power and abuse in the workplace emerged, droves of women, previously shrouded in secrecy, revealed experiences of exploitation at the hands of powerful men.
Listening to many stories caused my heart to go out to the victims. Trauma experienced in the workplace lingers, and the impact affects many areas of a victim’s life, whether the victim is female or male.
I couldn’t help but think about my own early workplace memories as I heard the horrific accounts.
My longtime marketplace career began when I was 19 years old. Over the years, I’ve worked for many men. In the early years, while working as a secretary, I was expected to address a male boss as “Mr.” or “Dr.” Job duties included making and getting him coffee. Complaining about a supervisor’s bad habits would have been beyond comprehension. Instead, I dutifully performed some undesirable tasks, such as emptying brimming ashtrays filled with stinking cigarette butts.
Such job practices [hopefully] are in the past. I wouldn’t want my daughters or granddaughters to be held to many of my early employment standards. Despite that, however, I recall few incidents when I felt disrespected.
Instead, my early workplace experiences were invaluable. Almost every one of my bosses gave me incredible opportunities. They showed patience with my inexperience, chuckled without derision at my mistakes, and encouraged me to grow and develop.
In today’s post, I want to take the opportunity to express my gratitude and declare the appreciation and r-e-s-p-e-c-t I feel for several of those bosses who were undoubtedly flawed, but fundamentally good men.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to think about your own experiences. If you were subjected to workplace exploitation, bullying or abuse, please talk to someone to begin and/or continue the process of healing. If your experience was similar to mine, thank God for protecting you and say a prayer for those whose soul still stings because of another’s abuse of power.
Blessings to each of you reading this post…
I wonder what would happen in our world if men and women who are Christ-followers took individual responsibility to practice Peter’s suggestion:
Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities…It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance… Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. (1 Peter 2:13-17 MSG)