Respecting Each Other | Devotions with Dad

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Respecting Each Other

For DAD Only:

Raising Adults

Before a New Year’s Eve prayer meeting, some of the church folks got together to play board games. After the prayer meeting, most everybody wanted to head home and get some sleep—except my kids. They were more than willing to stay up “past midnight” while eating popcorn and drinking Pepsi. What a healthy start to the year. The kids took up the places of the church folks who had left, as I continued on my trek to take over Risk.

I noticed an odd thing, however, as my children took the place of the adults at the game. I found myself being a little more demanding with my opponents. “Roll the dice.” “Hey, it’s your turn now.” “Pay attention to the game.” “Come on, are you going to make a move or not?”

Okay, I will cut myself a little slack since it was dark o’clock in the morning, and we should have all been in bed. But it suddenly dawned on me that I was speaking to my children differently than I did the adults who sat at the same table just a while before. I would never speak to another adult by saying, “Hello, are you going to play this game or not?”

This incident however, helped me come to terms again with something I already knew—I should treat my children with as much respect as I do other people. When guests come over to my house, I don’t speak to them saying things like:

“Hurry up and close the door, Bro. Jones! Do you think I’m trying to heat the outdoors?”

“Sis. Jenkins, use your napkin. Don’t you have any manners?”

“Fred! Don’t put so much on your plate! Do you have a hollow leg?”

Humans tend to speak worst to the people who love them most. Dad, we’ve got to remember that we are not raising children. We’re raising adults. These individuals could be our lifelong friends, or we could develop in them a root of bitterness that they may fight for years to overcome.

We like to harp on our kids about how they should obey us, respect us, get our slippers, cook us breakfast (okay, now I’m dreaming). However, we must ask: Do I model respect for my children? Do I speak to them as if they are important people? If I am not respectful to my children, I can’t expect them to be respectful to each other.

No one enjoys hearing their children argue, insult each other, and fight among themselves or with their friends. While we must prevent and punish such poor social skills, Dad, we must also make sure we model proper behavior, too. If I yell at my wife and insult her in front of the kids, they would treat each other the same—and her too. Instead men, yell at your wife and insult her where no one can hear. Just kidding!

In all seriousness, our words and attitudes toward our families will affect their response toward each other. Invariably, if I am stressed out and grumpy, I will transfer that to my kids and soon have to separate a squabble. Before I can lay too heavy of a guilt trip on them, I must recognize my investment in their contention.

To change the way you speak, first change your heart. Stop thinking of your son as the brat who scratched the door of your SUV. Stop thinking of your daughter as the weak little thing that cries over spilled milk. Think of what these youngins will be. Think of your son as a man someday leading his own family. Speak to him the way you would want him talking to your grandkids. Show your daughter kindness, patience, and sympathy so that some day she can act the same toward others.

Remember, attitudes are caught, not taught.


Dad, read this story with your kids:

Get Along, Guys!

“We’re going to the zoo! We’re going to the zoo!” Misty shouted as she ran up the stairs.

“Today?” Rusty asked, as he came out of his bedroom.

“Yes! It’s Saturday. Remember, big brother?”

“Wow! I’m going to bring my new camera,” Rusty said.

When the whole family was ready to go, Dad ordered, “Kids, get in the minivan.”

Rusty went outside into the brisk winter air wearing his puffy winter coat. Just as he got to the vehicle, Misty came running up behind him and pushed him out of the way. “No fair! I sit here this time!”

“Hey! I was here first!” Rusty said, grabbing the door handle.

“You two!” Mom scolded from behind them. “What are you fighting about?”

“He sat by the window last time, Mom!” Misty complained. “It’s my turn.”

“I got here first!” Rusty said.

“Come on, you two. We are going to have a good time today, not fight and argue.” Mom looked at Dad and said, “Hon, tell them to stop fighting.”

Dad climbed in behind the steering wheel and said, “Get along, guys. No more fighting.” Rusty climbed in and sat down behind his dad.

Misty sat down beside him and retorted, “Fine, but I get to sit next to the window on the way home.” She scowled at Rusty while she buckled her seatbelt. Then she turned and glared at the whole ten inches of space between her and the sliding door.

While Dad started the minivan, Misty whispered to Rusty, “And I’m not gonna’ share my new markers with you, either.” Misty and Rusty didn’t talk much on the trip.

When they arrived at the zoo, the family got out and headed for the gate. After the family entered the park, they stopped at the bathrooms and got something to drink. Misty took a big sip of her hot chocolate and looked up to see a girl sitting in a wheelchair by herself.

“Hi,” Misty said.

“Hello,” the girl answered.

“I like your pink sweater,” Misty said.

“Thanks. I got it for Christmas.”

“My name is Misty.”

“I’m Cassandra, but all my friends call me Cassie.”

“Are you all alone?” Misty asked.

“No,” Cassie answered with a quick shake of her short black curls. “My mom is up there getting me some hot coco.”

Misty glanced up at the counter and saw her mom talking to a woman beside her. “Is that your mom in the blue pants, Cassie?”

“Yeah, that’s her. Looks like she made a friend already.”

“Cool!” Misty said. “She’s talking to my mom, the one in the denim jumper. I guess if they can be friends, then we can be friends, too!”

“Awesome! I thought I’d be bored today.”

“Have you ever been here before, Cassie?”

“No. Have you, Misty?”

“Lots of times. I will show you around, okay?”


“How ‘bout if I push your wheelchair?”

Cassie shrugged, “I guess so, if mom doesn’t care.”

Misty noticed the leg casts and braces Cassie wore. “Is it okay to ask what happened to your legs?”

“I was in a car wreck.”

“Oh ouch! That must have been painful!”

“I guess so,” Cassie said slowly. “I don’t really remember it. I just woke up in the hospital with these bricks on my legs.”

“Will you ever walk again?”

“Yeah, but it will be forever. They say in a month I can start walking on crutches. That means I will have to ride the wheelchair school bus for at least three weeks!”

“At least you will walk again someday,” Misty responded. The girls’ moms came walking toward them and Misty asked, “Mom, can I push my new friend around in her wheelchair today? Her name is Cassie and she broke both her legs.”

“Oh dear, Cassie,” Misty’s mom said, “are you going to be all right?”

Cassie smiled and nodded her head. Cassie’s mom said, “she went for a ride with her stepbrother and his girlfriend the day after Christmas. His car went off the road on some ice.”

“Oh, the poor girl,” Misty’s mom said.

“Mom,” Cassie said, “can my new friend push me through the park?” Cassie and Misty’s moms discussed their plans for the day and discussed whether they could walk together.

Misty’s Dad said, “Well, why don’t you ladies hang out for a while, and Rusty and I will go look at some manly stuff, like lions and tigers.” They agreed on a time to meet up again, and the two groups split.

Misty pushed Cassie’s wheelchair down the sidewalk and into the big warm building where all the reptiles lived. Inside, they saw two big turtles with orange bellies, warming themselves under a heat lamp. At the next display, the girls groaned and gagged at the sight of the big, nasty snakes that had coiled together on a branch.

Misty pushed Cassie through the crocodile and alligator house, and then into the penguin arena. They saw penguins of all shapes and colors and sizes. Some had blue feathers, others had yellow, and some were just plain black and white. They were swimming, diving, and even sliding down a snow bank into the water. Next they saw polar bears swimming and eating fish.

Cassie was getting chilly from being in the outside displays, so Misty pushed her into the building labeled “Primates.” Inside they saw several crazy monkeys, screeching chimpanzees, and swinging orangutans. Misty rolled her friend up to a big glass wall where the gorillas lived.

“Hey, let’s see if we can find a gorilla,” Cassie said.

Misty walked over to the window and looked all around. “I think I see one over there,” she answered, pointing. “I think he’s eating.”

“Tap the glass and get him to come over,” Cassie told her.

“No, we aren’t supposed to tap the window,” Misty said. “But maybe I can get his attention like this,” and Misty started jumping up and down, waving her arms, causing her ponytail to swish back and forth.

Soon a gorilla came walking up to the window where the two girls could stare at him better. Its face looked mean and he frowned at them as he walked up on his fists and feet. He stopped at the glass and stared at Cassie.

“I think he’s trying to figure out what my wheelchair is,” Cassie giggled.

“Wave at him, Cassie,” Misty told her.

“Hey, ugly!” she said, waving both her arms. The gorilla frowned at her. Suddenly, he drew back his fist and punched the glass.

“Yipes!” Misty yelled. “He doesn’t like us! Let’s get out of here.” She grabbed the handles of Cassie’s wheelchair and pushed her away from the window.

“Wow, I thought that window would break when he hit it,” Cassie said as they hurried down the hall.

“Thank God for strong glass,” Misty replied. “He could have beat us up really bad!”

Soon, it was time for lunch. They attended a bird show, got to see a dolphin do some tricks, and soon it was time for the park to close. Misty got Cassie’s address and phone number so they could talk again, even though they lived a few hours apart.

An hour before the park closed, Misty and her mom met up again with Rusty and Dad. They had all enjoyed a great time and began talking about the things they had seen. Misty’s mom told Dad about how she got to witness to Cassie’s mom. She talked excitedly as the left the animal park.

As they made their way out the gate, their dad said, “All right, let’s go get something to eat.”

“Can we go to a restaurant?” Misty asked.

“Sure,” Dad winked.

“Yay!” she squealed. When Misty turned around she saw that Rusty was walking quickly to the minivan. “Hey, no fair!” she yelled as she sprinted toward him. “I get to sit there this time!”

Rusty was almost to the van when Misty caught up with him and slammed into him just before he got to the door. “I win! I win!” she yelled. She grabbed the door handle as Rusty fell to the ground.

“Yow!” Rusty shouted. He looked down at the sand and gravel stuck in his pant leg. “That hurt, Misty!”

“Guys, I thought we talked about this before we left. No fighting!” Dad said.

“Look at my leg,” Rusty moaned, as he rolled his pant leg up. “It’s all scraped up.”

Misty looked down and realized what she had done. “I’m sorry, Rusty. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Mom found an emergency kit under the seat and pulled out something to clean his scrape. While she took care of him, Dad spoke to Misty.

“Misty, didn’t you just spend the day being nice to a girl in a wheelchair?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That’s good, Misty. But why are you being nice to people you don’t know, while being rude and mean to someone you live with?”

Misty’s eyes clouded up with tears as she shrugged. “I don’t know.”

Dad put his hand on Misty’s shoulder and said, “Honey, look. Rusty is your brother. You are going to know him your whole life. Do you want to be his friend or his enemy?”

“His friend,” Misty sniffed.

“Maybe you need to think about some ways to show him that.”

“Okay.” Misty rubbed at her eyes.

“Now get in and buckle up—on this side, Misty.”

Soon, the whole family had loaded into the vehicle. As they pulled into the traffic on the busy street, Misty looked at Rusty and said, “I’m sorry.”

Rusty looked down at his pant leg with the dirt stain. “I’ll be okay,” he answered.

Misty smiled. “I want you to use my new markers on the way home.”


Why did Misty treat Cassie nicely?

Was it wrong for her to be nice to her new friend?

Why did Misty treat Rusty rudely?

Was it wrong for her to be mean to her brother?

Should we be nicer to our friends than our family?

What did Misty learn in this story?

Proverbs 20:3 says, “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel” (New King James). How could Rusty have been more honorable in this story?

How can Rusty and Misty work out an agreement about the special seat in their van?


Read the following scripture paraphrase with the family:
James 2:1-13
The Royal Rule of Love

My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?

Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—”Christian”—used in your baptisms?

You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you’re a murderer, period.

Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.

(James 2:1-13, from The Message. © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 Eugene H. Peterson.)


What does this passage say about treating some people better than others?

How do you think Jesus would act toward the person in nice clothes and the person in rags?

What is the difference between being respectful toward people and being a respecter of persons?

Share a time when someone ignored you or wouldn’t let you participate (play) with them. How did you feel? Why do you think they did that?

Role play: Two people have been in your house and something of yours was missing. The first person is a very popular, suave kind of person. The second is poor, doesn’t have much, and doesn’t get along with you. Who took your stuff?

What does Leviticus 19:15 say about this kind of issue?

“Misfit” kind of people feel rejection from the rest of the world. How do you think they will react if they feel the same exclusion from us who love Jesus?


Click the below link to open a coloring page and memory verse for this week’s devotional. Print on a color printer in “landscape” format.


Memory verse:

Ephesians 4:32

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

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