We live in a world that has lost its understanding of the word respect. Respect used to be a shared value in our communities. Kids understood that parents and teachers were worthy of respect. Parents and teachers understood that they needed to be worthy of that respect. But it seems that in this day and age, respect has become an old-fashioned idea and for kids it has become something of a nebulous concept.
Most of us know respect when we see it, and we know disrespect when we see it, but explaining it in concrete terms to our kids is much more difficult. Much to the mortification of my fourth-grader, I helped out in her class at church on Sunday where we studied respect. The kids have been studying respect all month. Their definition for respect is a great one: Showing others they are important by what you say and do.
The great thing about this week's lesson was how the lesson made a very abstract concept into a concrete one for the kids. It was such a good illustration that I want to share it with you. All month the kids have been learning 1 Peter 2:17, "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." They have been talking about showing respect to parents, friends and authority figures. This week they learned that showing respect to others shows respect to God.
To illustrate this, we took small Dixie cups and let the kids write the names or titles of people to whom they should show respect. We took the cups and made a pyramid with them. At the top of the pyramid, I placed my cup, which had the word God written on it. The girls then took turns knocking a cup out of the bottom of the pyramid to show how it affected the cup with God written on it. Every time one of the bottom cups was knocked out, the God cup fell down. The girls really understood how showing respect to their parents or their teachers showed respect to God and how disrespecting their teachers or parents showed disrespect to God.
I thought this was a fantastic illustration to show kids that what they do reflects back on God. It gave them a visual picture that they can think about whenever they are tempted to show disrespect to someone. It make 1 Peter 2:17 a reality instead of just an abstract concept. Try it with your kids and watch understanding dawn on them, too.