There is a basic respect that most people assent is to be given in general to all. Unwritten rules, things like yielding a parking space to a car waiting for a spot with its blinker on, or giving up your bus seat for a pregnant woman, these situations are given respect almost all of the time. There is another level of respect though that is earned, and this is the kind of respect that athletes seek to obtain.
Within the category of respect earned, there are two ways in which a person comes about being respected. The first is through your accomplishments. If Usain Bolt walked through the door tonight, he would be respected because of the fast times he has put up. Coach Lee has names put on the back of our jerseys for those who go to the national meet; it is a badge of honor and having your name on the back of your singlet brings some respect. The Hall of Honor athletes we inducted here at the school were paid respect not only for the accomplishments that they had while competing here at Warner, but also after they left the school. It is a Hall of Honor because they have carried themselves in their life after school in a way worthy of respect. Respect is not just an athletic accomplishment; it applies to the single parent working two jobs, or the father who works hard to provide for his kids, coaches the team on the weekends, and makes time to be home with his family. This kind of respect is earned over time.
A second kind of earned respect comes from a person’s title or position. If the President of the United States walked in, he would be respected. Maybe you don’t agree with his politics, but he has a group around him that travel with him to make sure he is protected. He is announced when he speaks, and is given the right of way in traffic. I don’t know about you but the secret service is not taking me home tonight. Other positions in need of respect include your boss at work, a coach, officials, and parents. If these positions are not respected, your relationship with them is not healthy, or you are extremely vulnerable. If you do not respect a meet official, you will be disqualified. Disrespect your parents and you will lose privileges; disrespect your boss and you might get fired. So all of this talk about respect leads us to the faith aspect. What position does God hold and what has He done?
The Bible says God is the beginning and the end, there was no one before Him and there will be nobody after Him (Revelation 22:13). He is also stated to be the Creator of all things that have been made (Romans 1:20). He is the highest authority that you can have, above all other gods (Revelation 19:16).
As for what He has done: God is at work restoring the world, He is restoring people to Himself through the sending of His Son Jesus to die on a cross for our sins so that we might be in relationship with Him. (John 3:16-17). He is also the giver of every good thing (James 1:17).
As an athlete you know your opponent respects you when they take beating you seriously, when they prepare for you seriously, when they acknowledge that you are tough to beat. If you take your faith seriously, you should respect God for who He is and what He has done, and your faith should be the biggest part of what you do and who you are. I respect people who have given serious thought to what they believe and why they believe what they do.
Respect instills confidence in those who know they have earned it. If you respect your teammates and they respect you, your performance will improve. It’s one thing to go out and run in front of others, it is another thing to go out and perform in front of people who you know understand what you are about and how you came to be in this moment. They appreciate what you are working toward and how far you have come, and they believe in you because they respect what you are trying to accomplish. I pray that our respect for each other allows the entire team to raise their level of performance and that we would take what each person is about seriously.