One morning at my high school we waited for our Bible teacher to start the lesson. Because our class was small, we could cut up and play around without getting in too much trouble. Once the teacher came in, he joined in with us for a second. I made a joke about his age, and all of us - including the teacher - laughed.
Once we settled down, he started Bible class by reading 2 Kings 2:23-24. That is the story about how the prophet Elisha was mocked by a group of young people, and because they were disrespectful they were mauled by two she-bears. Once my Bible teacher finished he looked right at me and told me I would be next. I laughed with the rest of the class as I tried to hide in my chair.
Coincidentally, that night at church, I made the same kind of joke about my youth pastor, and then he started to preach from the same story. He didn’t know what had happened that morning in school. I was shocked. My friend who was at class that morning look over at me, shook her head and said I was dead. We both laughed as I made sure a she-bear wasn’t coming my way.
Even though it was all in jest, the lesson from 2 Kings 2:23-24 is important. Remember that authority needs to be respected. You can see a lot of young people disrespecting authority every turn they get. They are put in charge of us for a reason whether you like it or not. There are many different excuses why youth don’t respect those above them, but none of them are valid.
You don’t like who is in charge of you. I hate to break it to you, but so what? You not liking them is not going to change what their job is and how it relates to you. They are still over you, and you need to respect them and the decision that was made to put them there.
You know better than them. What could you possibly know? Have you faced all the challenges of life and know exactly what the best course of action is? I bet not. None of us knows how this life thing is supposed to work out, but it would be wise if we learned from those who have more experience than us.
You only want to listen to your friends. How will that help? I can tell you they know just about as much as you do. If you want to be successful, the best place to learn and get advice is from your elders. If you don’t believe me, look at the story of Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12. Because Rehoboam listened to his peers and not his elders, Israel broke apart, and he only got to rule two of the twelve tribes of Israel.
You shouldn’t give respect because you don’t receive respect. But have you asked yourself what have you done that should warrant respect? What achievements do you have that should make the older generation respect you? The answer is none. Why? Because we are still learning; we haven’t done anything yet. Our job as the younger generation is to listen and learn, while it is the older generation’s job to instruct and guide us. It might not seem fair, but someday you will be in a position of authority, and you will want to be respected.
You shouldn’t give respect because they don’t deserve respect. Who are you to say that? 1 Peter 2:17 tells us to honor all men. You never see a verse about disrespecting someone. You might wonder about the wicked, criminal people of this world who somehow get into an authoritative position. We must follow what God has told us to do. Don’t let their sin cause you to sin. They will get what is coming to them according to Romans 12:19, Revelation 21:8, and Jeremiah 23:1-4. What they did will not go unpunished.
Finally, along with giving respect to those above you, you should also show that respect. You might say that you respect someone; but if you argue with them, say bad things about them, and go against what they say for some reason or another, it shows that you don’t have respect for them at all. If you respect someone, act like it. Show how much you care about what they have to say and listen to them.
By Parker Kathleen May.