I’m not sure when I realized what it means to respect another person.  I suspect it is an understanding that has come to me only slowly.

Step 1.  Respect means seeing those around you.  Wait staff. Checkers.  Whoever.  It was shortly after college, out with new friends, when I realized that not everyone had been raised to thank the server when she refilled our water.  Where did they think that lovely glass of ice water had come from?  No, if you are going to respect someone, you look them in the eye and thank them for taking care of you.

Step 2.  Respect means listening.  This was something we talked about in Sunday school.  When people feel heard, they feel valued.  Respect means hearing them.  Really listening.

Step 3.  Respect means not assuming that everyone else is wrong.  I’ve seen this a lot the last few days.  Whether the issue is who forgot to pay for something or whose way of doing things is right, respect means letting go.  Maybe just maybe the other person is on to something.  Even if you don’t immediately see it.

When we do these things, we manage to reflect some of Christ’s light out into the world.  Christ saw.  He sat and listened.  And he accepted the people around him.  He didn’t expect them to be flawless.  He accepted their humanity.

Respect.  It may be a fairly small word, but it means an awful lot to those who receive it.