When I was in the Marine Corps, I was assigned to 2D Marine Division, 2D Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. Our unit used light armored vehicles that used wheels instead of tracks. We had several different vehicles that served different functions. The nickname given to the vehicles by crewmen and mechanics was “pigs.” One staff sergeant, however, would put anyone in check calling one of the vehicles a pig. He would go on a tirade about the capabilities of the vehicle, the protection those vehicles provided troops in combat, and the importance of keeping them maintained. He would go on to say that it was important to not only treat the vehicles with respect but to also talk about them with respect. The lesson he taught was that we would treat the vehicles with the same respect we used to talk about them.
We value the people and things in our lives only as much as we talk about and describe them.
When Dillon and I founded Relevant Hope, we made a point to avoid words like client and consumer to talk about the people we were helping. We referred to them as people, friends, and neighbors. We believed that how we referred to people was an important indication of the value we placed on them.
When I joined the team at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, it didn’t take long to figure out that neither the CEO nor myself enjoyed calling the people we served clients. At one time in the history of the kitchen “consumer” was another term used to identify the same people. Now at the kitchen we refer to our guests as people, guests, or program participants. We value them as people, and we want to refer to them with the same level of dignity they deserve.
Whether we are talking about an armored vehicle, an animal, or a person, we should demonstrate the value we place on them with the words we use to describe them.
The Bible says that humans are made in the image of God. That is what separates people from animals. We have an intrinsic value as image bearers that nothing else in creation enjoys. We know that being an image bearer carries value because God said so. Shortly after the Great Flood, God said that man is made in His image, and if man sheds man’s blood, his blood is required (Genesis 6:9). What is clear from the passage is that people have value because of the image we share.
Light armored vehicles are important to Marines in combat, animals are important members of families or for service related needs, people are important and valuable, so valuable that Jesus was willing to lay down his life to save people in need.
Do you treat your children like they are a gift? Do you say they are a gift?
Do you treat your spouse like they are the most treasured person in your life? Do you call them treasured?
Many have said that if you want to know what you care about, take a look at your bank account. The next step in that syllogism is that if you want to know how you feel about others, listen to what you say about them.