Tooting your own horn

I work in a marketing department. I write brochures and articles about plumbing, heating and pipe-joining products. That’s what I do for a living. Our director tells us that its our job to “make plumbing sexy.” Quite a challenge, wouldn’t you agree?

When I’m writing an article or a story about one of our products, I have plenty of opportunities to use quotes from our own company’s product managers and directors, but I try never to do that. After all, who wants to hear our own company’s product managers and directors talk about how great our products our? The company pays them. So it doesn’t matter what they say about the products.

The kicker is when I can find a contractor or plumber who has installed our products and had it revolutionize their business. Now those are quotes I can use.

It’s the same principle people use in job applications. Why do you think you get asked for references? Because you can sit all day long and explain your qualifications for a job, but if one of your references won’t recommend you, I think that probably carries more weight than however many degrees you say you have.

This applies in so many different areas. We tend (or at least, I tend) to not listen so much to what people say about themselves. Instead, I pay more attention to what other people say about them . . . . well, I pay more attention to what other people say about them when it’s positive. If someone is griping or being negative about someone else, usually I tune them out.

The people around us notice things about us that we may not see in ourselves. I know people see things in me that I absolutely don’t recognize in myself. I remember somsone once told me that I was good at mediating conversations because I could keep a group on topic without being forceful. Really? I had never thought about that, nor would I have ever strived to do such a thing. It just happened, and apparently it stood out to this person.

Today’s verse is 2 Corinthians 10:17-18.

17 As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 18 When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.

I’ve met a lot of people who love to talk about themselves and their accomplishments. It really doesn’t bother me, though. I’m a writer, so I love to learn about people. It’s the best way to get new material. Ha! Back when Flair was popular on Facebook, I got so many little Flair buttons that said, “Be careful. You just might end up in my novel.” . . . . My friends know me so well. =)

I love to hear stories from peoples’ lives. It fascinates me to hear about the accomplishments and achievements that a person has experienced. But even I will admit that when all of that person’s attention is focused on themselves it can wear me out. Have you ever sat for an hour and heard someone talk about themselves and no one else? I have. And let me tell you, while it’s very interesting to know someone so accomplished that they have an hour’s worth of material to talk about themselves, I get tired of it.

But on the flip side, I went to Judge Clark’s memorial service last night. That thing lasted nearly two hours. And not once did I get tired of hearing other people talk about Judge Clark. There were funny stories and touching stories and all sorts of stories about the great things Judge Clark achieved in his life. It’s funny to me because he would never have told anyone about these things himself; he cared far too much about other people to spend time talking about himself.

So is it wrong to talk about the things that are happening in your life?

Not at all. I think we just need to get our perspective straight. I mean, after all, what is happening in your life that God doesn’t have control over? Or what have you accomplished in your years that God didn’t allow? Or what great achievement have you participated in that God didn’t give you the strength for?

See my point?

How can we brag about anything we have done in our own lives when God is the one who keeps us breathing?

I think that’s what Paul is talking about in this verse. If you’re the sort of person who likes to talk, talk about God and what He’s doing. There’s no point in boasting about your job: God gave you the intelligence and the strength to get a job in the first place. There’s no point in boasting about your family: God gave it to you. There’s no point in boasting about your physical appearance: God gave that to you too (and it won’t last forever, by the way).

So boast about God’s strength. Boast about God’s creativity and His design and His justice and His love. Boast about the awesome things God is doing in the world and in your life and in the lives of people that you know.

And don’t worry if people don’t know who you are. Don’t freak out if people don’t recognize the sacrifices that you’ve made or the things you’ve done. Why is it important for people to know anyway? Search your heart before you talk about it and discern your motivation for talking about yourself before you do it.

The only commendation I want is from God. Granted, it’s nice to receive accolades and encouraging when people say nice things about me. But the only Person who matters is God. Because if God is pleased with you and the things He’s helped you do, nobody else can say anything about it.