Author: Mark Fenstermacher
May 07, 2021

One of the great singers of the last century was—in my opinion—Aretha Franklin. Hearing her 1968 Atlantic release Aretha in Paris was a pivotal moment in my young life. Aretha’s voice and the passion she brought to her music stunned me. She had a way with a song that few could match.

The last song on the LP is the Otis Redding song Respect. “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect when you get home, Yeah, Just a little bit,” the singer pleads.

I’ve come to think that the foundations of a healthy relationship are truthfulness, faithfulness, trust and respect. Conflicts and misunderstandings are a given in every relationship, but without these four—truthfulness, faithfulness, trust and respect—things will never be quite right.

Whether it is the behavior of too many drivers in traffic, the rudeness of those who have seemed indifferent to the needs of others during the pandemic, the rudeness of a crowd in Utah as people heaped verbal abuse on a respected United States Senator, the crude verbal correction directed towards a child by an irritated parent in a store, respect seems to be in even shorter supply than microchips.

What does respect look like in a relationship, a family, a workplace, or a church? I’ve been thinking about that as we work through this series of messages on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.

Among the many helpful things Peter Scazzero says in his book, Emotional Healthy Spirituality, is a list of behaviors and attitudes (pages 180-181) that reveal respect for others. What does respect look like in a marriage, friendship, family, school, business or church? 

  • Space and privacy - respecting others’ needs for quiet, space and privacy.
  • Be different - allowing for others to think differently about God, food, money, music, politics, etc. When we insist others be like us to be okay then we are in an unhealthy relationship, team or church.
  • Disagree - making room for each person to think and see life differently.
  • Be heard - listening to each other’s desires, opinions, thoughts, feelings, etc.
  • Be taken seriously - listening and being present to one another.
  • Be given the benefit of the doubt - checking out our assumptions rather than assuming we know what the other person is thinking, and resisting the temptation to jump to conclusions before clearly understanding where the other person is.
  • Be told the truth - when we ask for information, being told the truth.
  • Be consulted - when a decision affect someone, consulting them in advance.
  • Be imperfect and make mistakes - not expecting others to be perfect but allow for mistakes, forgetting things, and not getting things right.
  • Language that is respectful - not using words that hurt, that shame, but being respectful in our speech. Recognizing that the other person is not an “It’ or thing to be used, but the other person is a child of God...a “Thou.”
  • Honoring feelings - taking the feelings of others into account.

What does this list say to you about your friendships, your family relationships, the kind of church God wants us to be, or your workplace? You might consider posting the list above someplace where you and others might see it. Some work and church teams actually keep a list like this handy when they come together for work sessions and retreats.

Respect is something that has to be lived out in actions, attitudes and words. Listening to Aretha sing the soul standard to an excited Parisian crowd is one thing but actually living and working in a respectful way is another. Showing respect requires intentionality, courage and a heart centered in the love of God, I believe. 

As the early Christians squabbled over their favorite pastor, Paul in 1st Corinthians shows respect to others who have served the church. He doesn’t try to claim a pre-imminent place, but recognizes that each of them have had a role to play (“Servants through whom you came to believe…”). He is respectful of the role Apollos and Peter played before him, and then points out (3:6) that God was behind the stunning growth of the Christian community as well as the new spirituality of each believer. It’s not all about him.

Respect: that is one of the keys to a healthy family, workplace, or church. What will you do to help move the world—and our church—towards respect?


Join us this Sunday for in-person worship at 8:30 or 11 or online via YouTube or through our website We will be continuing our series on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, focusing on what it looks like to love well. Loving well, as Ringo Starr sings in a fairly forgettable song, “don’t come easy.” This Sunday we’ll explore some keys to loving well.

As the Covid situation changes, we will continue to mask as we enter, move around the building and as we sing. However, when you are sitting in worship or your class in a socially distant way, as a family unit, please feel free to take your mask off. So we will continue to mask as we move around the building or sing in worship, but we can take our masks off as we sit in family units and maintain a safe distance from one another.

It is a joy sharing life and the Jesus road with you. Invite a friend to join you as we connect with God and others in worship and small groups.

In Christ and for Christ,
Pastor Mark


First United Methodist Church
1203 E. Seventh Street | Auburn, IN 46706 | 260.925.0885