Who Do We Respect?
People who help us earn our respect
by Manon Ceridwen Parry (revised, originally published in 2011)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider how people help us and how Jesus treated everyone with respect, whatever their role in society (SEAL theme: Relationships).
Preparation and materials
Have available some images of various people in uniforms doing their jobs and the means to display the images during the assembly:
- a firefighter, available at: https://tinyurl.com/gnz3oel
- two police officers, available at: https://tinyurl.com/zz7bnhp
- some paramedics, available at: https://tinyurl.com/gufm9rw
- a teacher, available at: https://tinyurl.com/jgqjfwo
- a vicar, available at: https://tinyurl.com/gsto2lv
Show the children the images of various people in uniforms doing their jobs.
Ask the children to describe what each person may do as part of his or her job.
Discuss each image and why these people have gained respect from others. For example, we respect firefighters because they risk their lives to save people from fires.
Consider with the children how ‘important’ each role is. For example, a cleaner performs a very important job: he or she may not be seen as saving someone in an emergency, but if our schools and hospitals were not clean, germs would spread and many people would become sick. In fact, all of these types of roles are important, and people who do them deserve our respect.
Some jobs are unpopular, but they have to be done by someone. For example, our parents may not like traffic wardens because they have received parking tickets from them, but if people parked wherever they liked, it could be dangerous.
Ask the children if they have heard of the job of tax collector. Discuss what a tax collector’s role is and what taxes are used for. Explain that being a tax collector could be thought of as an unpopular job. Adults have to pay a proportion of their wages in tax and they don’t always like to give away the money that they have earned to the government. However, this money helps to pay for schools and hospitals.
Discuss how, in Jesus’ day, tax collectors were especially unpopular because they were dishonest. They often overcharged people and kept the extra money for themselves. Tax collectors were outcasts: people who are ‘cast out’ - not included - are hated and looked down on. It is not nice to be in that position.
Sometimes, we may feel like outcasts, too, if we are not included in games or if our friends quarrel with us. But Jesus didn’t consider anyone to be an outcast. He wanted everyone to feel wanted and loved.
Read the story of the calling of Matthew (from Matthew 9.9–13) or tell it in your own words.
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Matthew got up and followed him. As Jesus sat at dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’
Jesus wanted Matthew to follow him and to be his helper and friend. He asked Matthew to pay back all the money he had stolen from people and gave him a chance to start again. Jesus always respected people and gave them a second chance.
Time for reflection
Give the children time to think about how it feels to be an outcast. Make the point that Jesus taught that everyone should be included, respected and loved, whoever they are and whatever job they do.
Help us to love everyone, whoever they are.
Help us to include everyone in the things that we do.
Help us to be thankful for the people who help us.
Help us always to treat people with respect.
‘Go, tell it on the mountain’ (Come and Praise, 24)