Listening and Respect

“…be eager to show respect…”


“Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another.”  (Romans 12:10)

It all began with a simple question I posed to the lobsterman whose home I was visiting.  “Would you mind if I took a picture of your stack of buoys?’  He and his wife were hosting a birthday party for a friend of ours, but I had never met the couple before pulling into their driveway.  “Why sure,” the salty fisherman answered.  “You can take all the pictures you want,”   and with a gleam in his eye added, “And maybe you’d like a tour of the trap shop!”  “Sure,” I said, not knowing for certain if his offer was legitimate or just some landlubber initiation rite.

Later that afternoon he asked if I was ready for my tour, so we descended into the basement that housed the trap shop.  As we started down the steps he began an earnest, detailed description of the process by which raw materials are turned into finished lobster traps.

He described each part of the process in great detail – from the cutting and forming of yellow metal screen into the outer shell to the knitting of the intricate door assembly specially designed for the maximum catch of the right-sized lobsters.
He was mesmerizing as he shared his genius for designing and constructing some pretty amazing lobster traps.  At one point I heard myself muttering, “I thought you just bought the traps and threw them in the water.”  “Some do,” he responded, “but the good lobstermen take their time and really pay attention to the details of their craft.”  Then he added, “The young ones don’t want to learn all of this.”

I felt like I was watching a documentary film rolling right before my eyes.  I watched and I listened, and I watched and I listened… and my respect for this artist/engineer/craftsman/marine biologist grew and grew.   When we finally emerged from the trap shop (or rather, were dragged from it with the announcement that the birthday girl needed to blow out the candles on her cake) I realized that I had gained a new found respect for this man and his trade – simply by listening.

It all began with my showing interest in his lobster buoys, which he took as my being interested in something that was very important to him, something he had invested much of his life in perfecting.  When I showed a willingness to learn more, he shared more.  The more he shared, the more I listened, and the more I listened, the more he shared.  I think we both left with a newly found respect for each other.  I respected him for his knowledge and talent, and he respected me for my willingness to listen – to show interest in him as a person of worth.

I feel like we live in a crisis of respect.  Instead of respect for one another I often hear apathy, disdain, fear, and sarcastic judgement.  We need to be able to respect one another.  Sounds like it’s time we started following the Apostle Paul’s advice when he said, “Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another.”  Sounds like we need to start loving and listening.

I pray that God will help me to keep listening.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my new book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

Check out my new video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on June 20, 2012.

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