Thinking Out Loud

August 7, 2016

Guys: Do You Deserve Respect, Or Earn Respect?


Through an interesting series of circumstances, today we’re introducing you today to blogger Gene S. Whitehead who tells us that this 2015 article has been the top-performing item at his site. We even have permission to use this! (Well, sort of; it’s a long story…) You can also click the title below and read this at his site in a much nicer font than we have! You might even want to leave a comment…

Respect – Do You Deserve It or Earn It?

Gene WhiteheadMale Respect: Earned or Implied?

Men, put your boots on because I may step on some toes here. Guys: when was it decided that respect was an automatic thing? Who planted this notion into the male mindset that we, simply by being born male are due to receive respect? And whatever happened to respect being something earned and not simply given?

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31

The more I interact with my fellow men, I begin to realize to what extent some of the fathers have failed the sons. When a man believes that by being in the position of leader, or head of household, respect is automatic. Not so.

Did you ever have a boss you didn’t respect? Why didn’t you, he was in a position calling for respect, wasn’t he? Did he demand it or expect it but not display the character deserving of respect?

You know the type of person I’m talking about, one who leads by authority and position rather than by character. Does this impact the integrity of that person? How much more so when that person is “leading” a family, when the impact and the fallout are absolutely beyond measure, affecting wives and children?

Now before you dust your Bibles off and start shooting verses at me like fiery arrows, let’s make this first distinction of what I am not talking about:

Positional vs. Earned Respect

“Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” – Charles Reade

True, being in a position of authority does imply some level of respect. That’s called positional authority, meaning absolutely anyone in that position would garner the same exact level of respect.

What you do, who you are, the character of your person while in that position defines whether you build on that respect or if you maintain the respect due to your position, which believe me, isn’t much no matter what you keep telling yourself. “But I’m the man.” Yes. Now act like one and earn what you think you deserve!

Earned respect exists in that place where you have sacrificially related to those whom you are leading, especially our wives and our children.

The irony is this: the less you expect and demand respect, the more you earn when you are present, involved and by character leading the way and learning from your mistakes, and don’t miss this: the more respect you are giving by serving others, the more you deserve and earn.

You see, respect is not automatic, for that is authoritarian. It is earned and that by the things mentioned above: sacrificial love, serving others, being present, giving of your time- all of which build your character.

Titus 2:7 says that we should show ourselves “in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity…”

There Was a Time…

I married young, it was 10 days before my 20th birthday. Admittedly, I was immature and not ready for the position of authority I had found myself in, and much less that following year when my first daughter was born.

Guys, I’m writing this because I was that guy, thinking that I would somehow be miraculously endowed with leadership capabilities deserving of respect. Would you be surprised to know that is not at all how life happened?

That is not to say that there aren’t twenty year old men out there who are ready and able to do what I could not, just as there are men in their thirties, forties, fifties and beyond who still are not ready!

I share this to say that I have been at both ends of this pool, in one end expecting respect and in the other having earned it, and the message is that you do not want to sit in that shallow end of this pool for years like I did.

Men, We Can Do Better

Guys, it doesn’t matter how well or how poorly we may have taught or what kind of examples we have looked to and learned from. We can do better. We must do better.

Everywhere we turn in today’s world, leadership is failing. We see it in governments, schools, journalism, churches and in our very own homes, everywhere around us male leadership is failing. It’s time to stop that ride.

How do we do it?

I can’t tell you there is any single answer to this, there is no magic bullet. but there are most definitely steps I have taken in my own journey.

And because I don’t have all of the answers, I have much more to learn and many more steps to take, but here’s a start:

  • Serve. All the time. You don’t earn (or deserve) respect by being served but by serving and setting examples.
  • Be quick to admit when your at fault, then proceed to make things right.
  • Be even more quick forgiving others of their faults.
  • Be a giver; a giver of your self, your energies and especially your time. There is nothing more valuable that you could give.
  • Speaking of time, value the time you are given to spend with those you love. It can disappear in a flash.

If you are married:

  • Treat your wife as the absolute one of a kind, irreplaceable treasured gift that she is. Even when she’s not acting like one.
  • Be the decision maker but above that, consider carefully the ideas, opinions and especially feelings of your wife. Marriage is a team sport and the decisions we make, men, do not simply affect us. But they do reflect on us.

December 2, 2011

The Love and Respect Devotional Experience

Working in around books all day, I have been fully aware that the book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs has been a bit of a sleeper title.  By that I mean a book which releases somewhat quietly, but then builds; and while other titles from 2004 have either become mostly forgotten or been discontinued altogether, Love and Respect shows no signs of slowing down; in some areas it is still taking off.

So when our friends at Graf-Martin Communications were doing a blog blitz on a recently-released spinoff, The Love & Respect Experience: A Husband-Friendly Devotional That Wives Truly Love, I knew I was getting a second chance to view the material up close. 

But how to review a devotional book?  Do I speed-read every entry?  That proved not to be an issue.  Finally getting around to opening the book, I discovered the feeling one might get upon opening a book and having hundred dollar bills (or, for our UK readers, fifty pound notes) fall out of every page.  It’s that rich.  I read chapter one.  Then chapter two.  Then chapter three.  Then, seeing an extensive note on it at the back, chapter thirteen.  Which directed me to consider chapter five.  And so on.

However first, I began with the introduction.  This is a book that aims to cut to the heart of the problems often encountered in the couple devotional genre.  He finds the material too feminine in orientation.  She wants to just read the material on her own.  Either spouse feels they’re being “prayed at” or corrected in the middle of the prayer time that follows. 

Next, I skipped over to page 273, an appendix offering a summary of the Love and Respect concept as taught in the original book, in seminars and available (only) at the authors’ website on DVD.  Since the book has been out for more than seven years, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the L&R concept is:

Without love, she reacts without respect
Without respect, he reacts without love

That’s the great axiom of the book, and there are at least two other corollaries which follow from it directly, the most obvious being:

His love motivates her respect
Her respect motivates his love

The decision to include only 52 chapters implies a weekly time together for couples, though the authors are clear that this is just one of many possibilities and also note that nowhere does scripture mandate that couples read and study the Bible together, much to the relief of a few of you reading this.

Finally, I need to reiterate what is essentially spelled out in The Love and Respect Experience subtitle: This is a book which has, by very strong design, been crafted as male-friendly.  The leather-bound cover (at a very reasonable price) adds to the ‘macho’ feel of the book, but the subtitle is also clear that this is not a men’s devotional book either.

I can’t recommend this book enough, especially at a time of year which is a ripe opportunity for couples to purposely launch some kind of Bible study and/or prayer time together.  And the seasonal gift-giving possibilities here can’t be overlooked either. 

A copy of the devotional was provided by Graf-Martin Communications, a Kitchener, Ontario firm which works with publishers and author agencies to provide additional promotion and publicity for books and book-related products.

June 2, 2011

Which Pornography Is He Looking At?

Today’s article is quite explicit, but it involves a topic that many marriages and families are dealing with.  If that’s not you, feel free to skip this one and return tomorrow for something different…

A few months ago I said I would occasionally post chapters here from The Pornography Effect in order to give it wider exposure than it gets hidden away online.  For about a week now, I’ve been wanting to look at the third chapter which deals with the escalation of pornography viewing; not in the sense of spending more time, but in the sense of moving from soft porn to hard porn, or skewing tastes away from mainstream porn which no longer satisfies to something more extreme.

Rather than reprint the chapter, I want to do a rewrite on it right here and now.  The chapter begins with this analogy:

They say that laughter is actually a surprise emotion. I find that watching comedies on TV, if I can guess where the humor is going, I don’t laugh because I’m not really surprised. It takes some really quirky lines, a plot twist, or a truly funny delivery to make me laugh out loud. Laughter is partly surprise.There’s a parallel here between the comedic form of entertainment and the pornographic form of entertainment.

After a little while, the internet images can get stale, and the purveyor of porn is looking for something new. In a 1960’s hit song, Kicks, Paul Revere and the Raiders said it best

It’s gonna seem like kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
And all those kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind…

I want to do something different here than I did in that version of chapter three and make a rather outrageous statement:  “If all your husband, or boyfriend, or son, or father, or brother is looking at is pictures of naked women, that could be the least of your worries.”  I’m not saying this to minimize the dangerous effects of pornography.  But I’ve found in discussions with people that when they say something like:

My husband looks at pornography.
My son downloads porn online.
My brother has a collection of porn.
My boyfriend is totally addicted to porn.
My father watches porn all the time.

…when people say those things, they are picturing someone looking at online pictures of naked women.  And I’m sorry, but that’s not all they’re looking at.

If porn is your drug of choice, you eventually will get to the point where you’re looking for harder stuff. That’s why some men’s tastes might skew towards something they weren’t expecting like masochism, or same sex sites, or what are called fetishes, which I won’t list here because if you know what that means, I don’t need to, and if you don’t, believe me, ignorance is bliss. Of course, not every guy goes that route, but the preponderance of evidence including the number of sites themselves, and the way that the visual sites are marketed would indicate that for the vast majority of men, tastes skew in only one direction: young.

At least that’s how I wrote that four years ago.  But let’s be more direct here and just say it:  After the initial exposure wares off and the laws of diminishing returns kick in, the person so innocently described as just looking at pictures at naked women, would be better described in sentences like these:

My husband looks at shots of people being tied up and whipped.
My son downloads videos of people urinating.
My brother collects pictures of people having sex in public places.
My boyfriend is totally addicted to gay teen pornography.
My father is always watching pictures of young naked girls.

I know that’s not the usual fare you expect to read here, but it needs to be said.  In fact, read it again and let it sink in.  The second set of sentences is similar to the first, but also so totally different, and I don’t even have space to consider the text equivalent of the themes listed, or to even mention the female porn addiction which is so rapidly growing.

The second set is a window into what kinds of things are really going on online, that is so different from the somewhat generic image of a guy looking at something that could be out of a pornographic magazine circa 1975.  Things have changed, and it’s gone far beyond that in 2011.  Furthermore, the guys viewing this stuff are your neighbors, your co-workers, your extended family, the clerk at the market or fast food restaurant or gas station.

And the second of sentences is statistically closer to the truth; it’s where it all, eventually leads.  Tastes skew.  Addicts look for greater kicks.  And the worldview changes it brings are massive.  And, as I said in an earlier chapter, it means that the guy in question never again looks at any female the same way.

Link to The Pornography Effect — Though set up on a blog, the chapters were posted in reverse order so you could read it like a website; pretend the “previous entries” tab at the bottom of the page actually means “next chapters.”

January 29, 2011

Relationships and the Internet’s Dark Side

Although the online version I posted exactly two-and-a-half years ago no longer resembles the print version I would still like to see published, I am convinced that The Pornography Effect: Understanding for the Wives, Daughters, Mothers, Sisters and Girlfriends contains information and ideas not being discussed elsewhere.

To bring those ideas to a wider audience, and to help confront what is still, 30 months later, a most serious problem, I’ve decided to occasionally reprint chapters of it here where there is a much larger readership.  The full text of the current draft is set up in a WordPress blog, but reformatted so that it reads like a book from start to finish.  It takes only 50-60 minutes to read and uses only two full screens to present the fifteen chapters in that draft edition.   You can link to the whole book here.

As a guy trying to write something that is intended to read by a dominantly female audience, I know that women are into relationships. So I thought that beginning there would be a good jumping off point. The point is that when guys view internet pornography it changes the relationship… (wait for it!) …with their computer.

I see two possible responses here.

Jim has done a bit of gaming, he knows how to check his stocks and mutual funds online, he has a friend who blogs, he’s got two e-mail addresses and he’s looking into switching his long distance from a standard carrier to VOIP on cable. Then he discovers the internet’s darker side.

Dawn, his wife, asks him to check her e-mail for a message from her mom, and from nowhere, she hears his voice answering her, “I’m not going anywhere near that thing.” He walks out to the patio and shuts the door.

Dawn’s understandably bewildered. Why doesn’t he want to check it? She opens the door, asking, “What’s the matter, did it bite you? Did you get an electrical shock off the keyboard?”

Around the block lives Rick. He loves to play the 300 variations on Solitaire he bought online, has a few friends he e-mails, likes to read articles from major newspapers online, and subscribes to a few comics to brighten the time when he gets home from work. Then a friend sends him a link to a site he thinks Rick will ‘enjoy.’ His eyes grow wide as the first image appears onscreen. His friend sends links to other websites.

Rick’s wife Alicia is unable to ignore what’s happened in the last few weeks. Rick has suddenly become an expert on all things related to the online world. He knows ‘search’ like never before, he’s suddenly an expert on downloading all manner of things, and it’s getting harder and harder for her to get any time online. Sometimes he’s up an hour early in the morning, and sometimes he’s up an hour late at night.

Alicia has entertained some suspicions, but anytime she walks by the screen all seems normal enough. But there’s no doubt in her mind that her man has suddenly transformed himself from a casual computer user to a rabid computer nerd. Or something.

Two guys. Two similar family dynamics. Two computers. But two entirely different responses. In the one case aversion, in the other case, immersion or saturation. One guy is treating the computer the way he might treat the family dog if it bit him. The other guy has suddenly become a handy guy to have around if you have any computer questions.

The point here is that those same reactions – aversion or immersion – can also affect the dynamics in a family. For sake of simplicity let’s ascribe the same reactions to couples with the exact same names.

Jim is suddenly cold toward Dawn. She doesn’t know why he doesn’t find her appealing anymore. She gets her hair styled, but he doesn’t seem to notice. There are fewer hugs. Fewer intentional touches. Jim’s aversion could be because he’s finding sexual fulfillment online. Jim’s aversion could be caused by the fact he simply feels guilty and suddenly finds sexuality – even sensuality – for lack of a better word, dirty.

But over at Rick’s house, Alicia couldn’t be happier. Jim has come alive sexually in ways she’s never seen before. Secretly, she wonders where he’s getting all these new ideas. But things are far too exciting to stop and think about it. She figures that maybe he read a book or an article in a newspaper. At any rate, she’s not going to complain.

Within the context of happy marital relations, Rick and Alicia’s situation would seem to be the better of the two, but what is Rick thinking – or pretending – while all this is going on? And what would a psychologist say about the fact that of the two men, Rick is the one who appears to be ‘acting out’ on his newfound interest?

The ‘acting out’ question is critical here because if exposure to internet pornography changes the relationship dynamics between a man and his wife or his girlfriend, could it have consequences for his daughter, his sister or his mother? Don’t be too quick to discount any of those, because when you see the recurring types of sexuality, and the themes that are dominant on the internet, you soon discover that there is a fine line between using the ‘net to stimulate healthy sexuality between a man and woman who are in relationship, and more overt perversity.

Furthermore, it’s a slippery slope that I’m certain leaves some guys saying, “I never thought that could happen to me.”

I would submit that almost from the first minute of viewing, that exposure to internet pornography is going to change the way the guy – any guy – looks at any female, from strangers to women in close proximity. I would submit that for most guys, if the escalation of interest in online erotica continues unchecked, there would come a point where ‘acting out’ would be considered, if not actually carried out. (In other places of course, you can read stories that indicate just about all the perpetrators of sexual crimes trace their behavior back to exposure to pornography. Logically, that doesn’t mean the story will end there for every man, but it means that with those for whom it did end there, its beginnings are undeniable.)

Even if nothing criminal ever happens, the consequences could be huge. One silly off-the-cuff remark to a female coworker could end a longtime career; a remark that wouldn’t have been made if certain thoughts hadn’t been planted in his head. One indecent suggestion to a friend’s wife, a cousin or a neighbor’s wife could totally destroy families, friendships and neighborhoods; a suggestion that would never have been vocalized if the person didn’t think that such behavior could be considered normal.

Someone once compared the things that enter our thought life to what happens when farmers sow seeds and later reap the harvest. The little verse goes:

Sow a thought, reap an action;

Sow an action, reap a habit;

Sow a habit; reap a lifestyle.

One thing is certain, whether there’s aversion or attraction, interpersonal dynamics are changed. Someone has said, “You are what you eat.” You certainly are what you read or view on television or your computer screen.

I don’t think anybody who stays connected with pornography remains the same person they were.

…Continue reading here…

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