Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:1,2 NIV
I can remember as a kid hearing the “older folks” say, “When you have to toot your own horn, you’re just making noise.” They would go on to explain that when a person has really done something worthwhile, praise coming from other people about the accomplishment means so much more than when a person exalts themselves.
That makes sense to me. Hearing someone else tell you how great you are at doing anything does two things for the average person. It bolsters confidence and instills humility at the same time.
I’m usually amazed at some of the things people say to me; especially since I don’t see me the way others see me. I’m competitive–by nature–and I’m usually competing with myself–always trying to find a way to do something better. As a kid, while other kids were outside playing, I was in the house reading a book because I wanted to be a better reader. When we (the girls) played sports with the boys, I wanted to be a better player, so I didn’t play like the girls (Miss Prissy); I played like the boys and was a tomboy until after I was fifteen years old. I loved playing touch football and beating the boys we played against. But it was because of those boys that I learned how to swing a bat and release after a hit without knocking someone out with the bat. I learned how to play basketball really well competing with the boys because they were taller and I had to try harder.
As an educator, I am always surprised when a colleague tells me what other students say about me. Personally, I thought my students hated my guts, so when either students or instructors tell me how my former students say, students recommend me to others–that’s invigorating, yet humbling. Hearing that makes me feel like I really have to step up my game–to keep the momentum going because I don’t want to disappoint me or others. And though I think I’m a pretty good teacher, I’ve seldom said that to anyone. I’m creative and always looking for new ways to present basic–humdrum information because I don’t like being bored.
When introducing myself to a new class, I simply tell them my name and give them their first writing assignment–to Google me and then write about what they discover. They share what they discover with the class and we move on from that point. I want them to know–I know about writing, but I don’t think I should spend class time trying to convince them.
So, when implementing this particular proverb to my daily life–I’d rather hear what others have to say about me than to say anything about me. Since I don’t see me as others do, I probably wouldn’t do a good job of telling anyone anything. I see me with the flaws and imperfections, but thankfully, a number of people look past them or don’t recognize them until I say something about them.
More importantly, I strive to please God, not people. I know if I live according to His Word, more than likely He’ll be pleased, even when I don’t think I’m good enough–I know, He still loves me. And maybe, just maybe, I’m a little too hard on myself. But I’d rather look at me–with a critical eye, than to look at me with an appraising eye and attempt to say anything about me.
What I’ve discovered about most people is this--if they have to tell who they are–chances are–they are not all they think they are. The more people brag about themselves, the greater the likelihood that others will see their flaws and not their accomplishments. That’s what happens when we have to toot our own horns; we invite closer inspection.