I found myself at a junior tackle championship game this past Saturday because my granddaughter Anna, a second grader, wanted to see her friends play and compete for the league title. And yes, as it turned out, she also wanted to play with her girlfriends on the sidelines during the game.
It’s safe to say she was not a rabid spectator.
While watching the game from the vantage point of an elevated concrete slab in front of the concession stand, I noticed people wearing two very different shirts. Across the back of one shirt was the message: “We don’t lose. We win or we learn.” I liked that sentiment.
Not so with the other shirt I noticed. It said across the back: “Respect: All want it ... Few deserve it.”
The words – and their sentiment – left me cold. Especially at a youth sporting event.
An adult – a really big guy – was wearing it. It saddened me to think he really believed that. And it saddened me more to think he might have a son out on the field to whom he was teaching that.
Of course everyone wants respect. And just as obviously, everyone deserves respect.
I wondered if the man was the father of a player – and if so, if he ever took his family to church. If he did, I hope to God he never wore that shirt to church.
The fact of the matter is that Christianity teaches that every human being deserves our respect -- if for no other reason that he or she is a loved child of God. Period. No exceptions. God respects and loves everyone. So should we.
Certainly people who want to lead like Jesus have to strive to live and love like Jesus. And that effort begins by respecting – actually loving – everyone else. Why? Because they deserve our respect and love.
There was one consolation in this Tale of Two Shirts. I noticed a lot of people were wearing the one about not losing, just winning and learning. Only one guy was wearing the shirt that said few people deserve respect. I hope that ratio is indicative of the hearts of the people gathered in that stadium – and the hearts of people everywhere.
And yet, I can’t let go of the thought that one shirt professing that few people deserve respect was one too many.