Lesson of the Week

Reverent: I show deep respect for the human spirit

Oil hit the sidewalk.  All meetings should be so glorious.  Want the same results in a relationship?  Try reverence.

Reverence is not a dirty word.  Reverence is respect tinged with awe.  Glorious things can happen when there is deep respect for the human spirit.  But at that moment, beware of distain.  Some equate being reverent with being a “wimp” or “selling out”.   For instance, recent news reported football coaches rewarding their football players because they purposefully hurt opposing team members.  Is this the mission of a team – to seriously injure the opponent?

If a corporate employee shows deep respect for another company, s/he might be considered a traitor.  If a public defender shows deep respect for an accused criminal, she might be vilified in the news for protecting his rights.  No matter what the situation, your mission should include being reverent.  Reverence is always the right thing to do.  Take for instance the story of Nelson Mandela showing deep respect for the human spirit and pardoning to end the apartheid.  What good would it have done to continue a split of disrespect within his country?  The time was for everyone to be reverent and the result was the healing of a nation.

A university social work professor was stunned at her colleagues prejudice against using the word spirit, an essential ingredient in practicing reverence.  Doesn’t social work require the utmost of reverence – deep respect for the human spirit?  Her informal research indicated that people believed the word spirit had a religious meaning that had no place in academia.

The professor decided to do more formal research.  She created a closed ended questionnaire with dichotomous answers, yes or no.  The first set of questions asked the professionals, “Do you teach about spirit in your class?”  The answers were a unanimous, “No!”  They did not teach about spirit in their classes.

The second set of questions asked the professionals the exact same questions; only this time the word spirit was left out and the exact same questions were asked substituting the dictionary definitions of the word spirit.  The dictionary definitions include words having to do with the immaterial nature or character as shown in thought and life.  The second set of answers was a unanimous, “Yes!”  They did teach about the immaterial nature of character (i.e., the exact definition of the word spirit).  The professors unwittingly professed not to teach about spirit, but did teach the concept through the use of its dictionary definition.

Why is this discussion so very important?  Because being reverent is essential to life and your mission.   Being reverent is not about religion.  Being reverent is about respecting the essence, the spirit – the non-material nature of the person.  You start with the material means of connecting – the voice, email, text message, hand sign, or video.  Then you communicate with the spirit.  The spirit is the way to communicate, to help, to heal, to build, to understand, to create, to maintain, to welcome, to protect, or any other behavior that will benefit existence and another person.  Choose to be reverent on your mission and you will choose to excel and be an asset to the community and therefore the world.


I can do no other than be reverent before everything that is called life. I can do no other than to have compassion for all that is called life. That is the beginning and the foundation of all ethics.

- Albert Schweitzer, German and French physician, medical missionary, organist, philosopher, and theologian


Activity:  A-Mazing

Materials:  Paper and pencil (so you can easily erase and draw lines)

Time:  Ten minutes to write and ten minutes per person to discuss the results.


1.  Create a maze on a piece of paper.  Start by making a clear path from the beginning to the end.  Then add four different paths that go to dead ends.  Label each dead end with a letter A, B, C, or D.  Label the beginning “Start” and the end “Reverence”.  This maze represents the path to reverence.

2.  On the back of the paper write A, B, C, and D and leave room to make a comment by each.  A, B, C, and D are called the dead ends – reasons why you might have a hard time being reverent.  On the back of the paper and by each letter write a time you had the opportunity to be reverent, but chose not to be even though it might have been the best thing to do.

3.  Analyze each dead end comment and come up with one word that describes or names that dead end.  You will have one word for each letter.

4.  Turn the page over and next to each letter on the maze, write the one word that describes each dead end.  These words represent something special in this maze.  They represent the dead ends that keep you from being reverent and perhaps from getting the benefits from being reverent.

5.  Discuss your maze with your group.  What gets you caught in a maze of disrespect?  List four ways you might get out next time you are caught in a maze of disrespect.  What is the most important thing you learned from this activity?


I am reverent, so I can ...... We'd like to see your story about showing deep respect for the human spirit. Write your comment below.