Have you ever been lost? When I was young, my dad bought me a bow. We’d travel to northern Michigan, and I would hunt with my dad. As I got older, he let me go out by myself. I headed toward an area where I thought there might be some deer. We agreed to meet back at the car at 11 a.m.

I hunted all morning, but didn’t have any deer come close enough to shoot. I looked at my watch. It was 10:50 a.m. Time to head back to the car. As I looked around, I realized I was not confident about the way to the car.

After I walked long enough, I realized I should have come to the car. I got a little panicked. I had left my compass back at the cabin.

I walked another hour. Then I recognized an old, rotted stump. I had walked in a complete circle! It was 5 p.m. when my dad actually found me. I was totally panicked!

Every person has an internal compass, a mechanism to know right from wrong. Yet, we sometimes ignore the compass. God did not make puppets.

Getting lost in your own woods is not healthy. When it becomes part of a nation’s culture, it impacts others. It results in the deterioration of a nation. It’s not a direct assault, like war. It’s subtle, like dry rot.

When the trend away from respect continues, it becomes the norm. The signs are clear: a stalled government, bad behavior, shocking news stories of human behavior.

Those who lose their compass become less productive. Progress is stalled.

There are actually two kinds of compasses. One is used to draw circles. The other points the way. People get confused and use the wrong compass. When that occurs, civilization is close to going down the toilet.

When I conducted the research for the book A Nation Reclaims Respect, I realized the amazing power of the compass that points the way. When behavior grows dark, we wonder: Can we go on this way?

It is called a wake-up call. How many suicides does it take? How much political gridlock? How many shootings? How much civil unrest? Disrespect infects destiny. It is not like a foreign army—you can see them coming. It’s more like an infectious disease. You see the symptoms, but may not understand the cause.

Respect does not rise from a government program. It is a movement, one person at a time, living respectfully. It’s caught, one person after another.

Do you have your compass? Do you influence others to take a stand for a better world? It has to start somewhere, sometime. How about with you? I invite you to take a look at the book A Nation Reclaims Respect.

Kent R. Hunter and Tracee J. Swank are church consultants and authors of A Nation Reclaims Respect, available on Amazon.com and ChurchDoctor.org.

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