Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Healthy Respect

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." - James 1:17 (NIV)

God has gifted each and every one of us with different talents, each uniquely our own. When I say uniquely, I mean that although you and I may have the same type of talent, we don't use it the same way. I realized recently that one of the gifts God has given to me is being able to write. However, my writing style is different from someone else who has been given the same gift. They may choose to write a book, become a journalist or, like me, start a blog. They may choose to ignore their talent and not use it at all. If that is their choice, then I don't believe they're showing a healthy respect for the gifts God has bestowed on them.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Aretha Franklin sang about it. One of the lines in the song says, "Find out what it means to me." That's what each of us needs to do. What does respect mean to me? The defintion of respect is admiration, high opinion, value, reverence, regard. The opposite of respect is disrespect, disregard and contempt. Do I value the gifts and talents God has bestowed on me? I know there are plenty of times when I don't respect my talents. As a matter of fact, I sell myself short quite often. I don't step into leadership, even though it's one of the gifts God has given to me, because I don't want to be seen as overbearing or bossy. I hesitated on starting this blog because I didn't want to be seen as "blowing my own horn". I don't want to be thought of as prideful. Yet, when I don't step into the opportunities my talents provide, I am regretful. I think to myself, "What if?" and "Why didn't I?" And, I now realize, I am disrespecting and showing contempt for God's gifts and cheating myself. Pearl Bailey once observed, "The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one's self. All sin is easy after that." The first step to a healthy respect of my talents is to have self-respect. "Self-respect is not about what we do, but who we are. It's about loving ourselves for ourselves - just because we are." ( If I don't respect myself, how can I respect my talents?! The second step is to have self-confidence. That doesn't mean having a big head, being proud of myself and boasting about my greatness to others. God forbid!! It means not being afraid to step into an opportunity that can use my talents, and then using that opportunity to bring honor and glory to God. That's the reason He gave me these gifts!!

No one can force us to use our talents, to seize opportunities, to respect ourselves, to have self-confidence, to step into our gifts. That choice is completely left up to us. If we choose to have a healthy respect for our talents and use them to honor our Father, we live up to our potential. We live a fulfilled life. If we don't have a healthy respect for ourselves, who will?

"Don't rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can't love and respect yourself - no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are - completely; the good and the bad - and make changes as YOU see fit - not because someone else wants you to be different." - Stacey Charter

Dear Heavenly Father, You have bestowed talents and gifts on me to be used for Your honor and glory. May I have the self-respect, self-confidence, courage and perseverance to use these talents. Remind me at all times that my talents are gifts from You and are not of my own doing. Let me be humble, obedient and faithful to You in all things and give You all the praise. I pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.

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