In my book A Nation Reclaims Respect, I shared a message from Abraham Lincoln to the nation. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed March 30 to be a national day of fasting, humility, and prayer. He declared:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hands which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us! It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

President Lincoln was known for his respect. Some people actually called him “Honest Abe.”

His likeness is found on the US penny—the most fundamental element of the currency that reflects your crystallized sweat.

Look at the front of a penny. You will find President Lincoln. That is your heritage. Look at the top. It says, “In God We Trust.” That is your hope. Look to the left. It says, “Liberty.” That is your gift. Look at the back of the penny. It begins with the word “United.” That requires respect.

The call for respect is not new. It is a recurring cycle. Your greatest achievement is who you are and who you become. Culture does not live in a constitution, or in bylaws, or on a plaque on the wall. Not even on the currency. Culture lives in people. People like you. People impact people.

Who are you impacting right now? Is your influence positive or negative? Do you hurt or heal? Do you show disrespect or honor? Are you begrudging or forgiving? Do you contribute to the problems? Or, are you part of the solution?

Respectful behavior is contagious. Disrespectful behavior is toxic. Do you cause pain, or are you a healer? Are you a critic or a comforter?

As you reflect on the Lincoln penny, can you say, “In God we trust”? Or do you say, “only sometimes.” Or are you a person who says, “I wouldn’t trust God for anything”?

Do you see your nation as “united,” as the penny states? If not, what are you going to do about—you? Are you an asset to your friends, nation, world—or a liability? What do you say? What do you think most people say? Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

Take some private time to think, perhaps even pray, about your role in a world that desperately needs respect and respectful people.

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

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