Tooting Your Own Horn!

Tooting Your Own Horn!

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.

Let Someone Else Tell It!

“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth.” (Proverbs 27:2 NIV)

If we’re going to boast about anything, it should be about our relationship with God, for it is our relationship with Him that prompts our success.

Sometimes, when we read passages of scripture, we get things twisted when we attempt to justify the world’s way of doing things and not doing them God’s way. Whenever we have success in anything, the first thing we should acknowledge is that it wasn’t because of us and the “I” we use to brag should be “He” since it is all about Him.

I am so thankful for Holy Spirit inspiration in the books I’ve written that He always gets the credit. Some call this foolish, but I know from where the ideas came and how they came together. It is not because of anything I know–for most of which I write about–I didn’t know–until He revealed it. Then there are those who call my reluctance to boast about self–false humility or false pride. There is nothing false about my giving God glory over all He does in my life. I know there are some who think everything they accomplish is because of them and not Him. If that’s the way they want to think–that’s on them. I choose to give God glory because I know, He’ll keep speaking to my heart, inspiring other works for people to enjoy.

But what’s more important is that others boast or brag about what we’ve accomplished, and not us. There is nothing sadder than listening to someone constantly talking about what “they’ve done.” Even with my classes, I stopped discussing my achievements as part of my introduction of who I am and decided to have my students discover who I am and what I’ve accomplished. Then, they write a paragraph summarizing what they discover. When we hold discussions about their discovery, it sounds so much better to hear it from them, than it would have from me.

I have found that to be true–at least for me–for other people as well. I can better appreciate a person’s accomplishments when someone else is telling it. When they tell it–even though most think there’s nothing wrong with their bragging–it sounds like a person who is needy of attention. When someone else tells it–it sounds like real appreciation and admiration for what has been accomplished.

Now, when we give God the praise for what He’s doing in our lives–I don’t necessarily see that as bragging on us, but rather Him. I know some will disagree, but I’ve reached a stage in my life where I know, I’m not needy for attention. If someone remarks on my achievements great, if not great. God knows and He’s the only one who can lift me beyond my own ability and let me shine in His glory!

So, before we get so high-minded in seeking the admiration of others that we tell it all–let’s allow someone else to tell it–how good and wonderful is our awesome God that He opens doors no man can shut and shuts doors, no man can open. Hallelujah, Jesus!