Attention or Respect?

A question was asked of a group of university students: “Would you rather be the consistent center of attention, or have the respect of others?”  The questioner was astounded to hear that more than half said they would rather have attention. They did not rate respect as high in importance. They did have reasons for their answers but nonetheless the results were surprising.

The world is full of attention seekers.  They not only seek it; they live for it and their pursuits in life are often geared mainly to meet that end.  For instance, many people in the entertainment industry go out of their way to seek attention. Their attention-seeking behaviours may have nothing to do their work as an entertainer, but they choose to act in such a way that the media picks up on it and gives them the attention they seek.

Some women dress in provocative ways in order to draw attention; it seldom follows that her style brings respect her way.

I knew a woman who was very good at getting attention. She would do a lot of rather strange things to be certain that she was noticed- the center of attention. If she could not achieve that she was not a happy lady. It is true that she was often, by her own design, the center of attention, but that did not mean she was respected. 

I came across this quote the other day and it interested me:  "Seek Respect, not attention. It lasts longer."

Scripture has a lot to say about respect. There are verses that tell us to act in a respectful manner toward others – from bosses to husbands to the elderly, to those who are over us in the Lord, etc. Our behaviour toward others must always be kind, thoughtful, reasonable. 

Respectful behaviour can be mandated – made a rule. We can act in a respectful way, but it doesn’t always mean that we feel respect toward that person. Genuine respect must be earned. I found one website that listed 99 ways to gain the respect of others. Among the 99 were a few that were noteworthy:

Always treat others with respect and it will come back to you; maintain your integrity at all times; keep your promises; respect the feelings of others; suspend judgement until you have all the facts;  live what you say you believe; learn to express appreciation for others; recognize when you are wrong, admit it and apologize; be considerate of other people's viewpoints, and recognize that every opinion is valuable.  

The list goes on.  

Re-read that list and ask yourself if you behave in such a way as to earn the respect of others.

The bible also gives us a glimpse into something else we can do to earn the respect of others: 

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”  I Thessalonians 4:11, 12 

For attention seekers, think about this: people who shine from within don’t need the spotlight. If you glow with the presence of the Holy Spirit, others will be drawn to you as your life reflects not you, but Christ in you. 


B. Klassen                bea.k@