Are You Recommending Yourself to Others?
‘I don’t care what other people think!’ In a moment of anger or frustration, perhaps you have found yourself making this bold assertion. But once the surge of bravado has ebbed, you may give way to a feeling of anxious concern. Why? Because most of us really do care about what others think of us.
INDEED, we should care about the feelings of others. Especially must we as Christians, ordained ministers of Jehovah God, have a healthy concern about how others view us. After all, we are “a theatrical spectacle to the world.” (1 Corinthians 4:9) At 2 Corinthians 6:3, 4, we find the apostle Paul’s sound counsel: “In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers.”
What, though, does it mean to recommend ourselves to others? Does it mean to promote ourselves or to call undue attention to ourselves and our abilities? No. But it does call for applying the words of 1 Peter 2:12: “Maintain your conduct fine among the nations, that . . . they may as a result of your fine works of which they are eyewitnesses glorify God.” Christians recommend themselves by letting their conduct speak for itself! Ultimately, this brings praise, not to us, but to God. Nevertheless, our recommending ourselves to others may also have personal benefits. Let us examine three areas in which this might prove true for you.
As a Potential Marriage Mate
Take, for example, the matter of marriage. It is a gift from Jehovah God, the one “to whom every family in heaven and on earth owes its name.” (Ephesians 3:15) Perhaps it is your desire to marry some day. If so, to what extent are you recommending yourself as a potential marriage partner? Yes, what reputation have you made for yourself as a single Christian man or woman?
In some lands this is of great concern to families. In Ghana, for example, when two persons wish to marry each other, it is the tradition for the prospective couple to inform their parents. These, in turn, inform other family members. The man’s family then sets about ascertaining the woman’s reputation in the neighborhood. When the parents are convinced of the woman’s suitability, they will inform the woman’s family of their son’s intention to marry the daughter. The woman’s family now checks the reputation of the man before consenting to the marriage. A Ghanaian adage thus says, “Ask those who should know before you enter into marriage.”
What about Western lands, where individuals are generally allowed to select their own marriage mates? Even there, a mature Christian man or woman would be wise to seek a candid recommendation from those who know a potential mate well, such as parents or mature friends. According to the book The Secret of Family Happiness, a young woman might ask: “‘What kind of reputation does this man have? Who are his friends? Does he display self-control? How does he treat elderly persons? What kind of family does he come from? How does he interact with them? What is his attitude toward money? Does he abuse alcoholic beverages? Is he temperamental, even violent? What congregation responsibilities does he have, and how does he handle them? Could I deeply respect him?’—Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 22:29; 31:23; Ephesians 5:3-5, 33; 1 Timothy 5:8; 6:10; Titus 2:6, 7.”*
A man would likewise want to inquire about any Christian woman he is considering marrying. According to the Bible, Boaz took such an interest in Ruth, the woman he later married. When Ruth asked: “How is it I have found favor in your eyes so that I am taken notice of, when I am a foreigner?” Boaz said: “The report was fully made to me of all that you have done.” (Ruth 2:10-12) Yes, not only did Boaz personally observe that Ruth was a loyal, dedicated, and hardworking woman but he also received favorable comments from others.
Similarly, your conduct will have a bearing on whether others view you as a suitable marriage mate. Just how are you recommending yourself to others in this regard?
As an Employee
The workplace is another area where maintaining good conduct can work to your benefit. Competition for jobs may be intense. Employees who are known for insubordination, habitual lateness, and dishonesty are often fired. Companies may also lay off experienced employees so as to cut costs. When unemployed ones seek new jobs, they may find that companies will check with their previous employers to ascertain their work habits, attitude, and experience. Many Christians have successfully recommended themselves to employers by their respectful behavior, modest attire, pleasant demeanor, and outstanding Christian qualities.
Honesty is such a quality—one that is given high priority by many employers. Like the apostle Paul, we want to “conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18) In one mining company in Ghana, pilfering was reported. The supervisor at the treatment plant, a Witness, retained his job while others were fired. Why? The management had observed his honesty over the years. His hard work and respect for authority were also well-known. Yes, his upright conduct saved his job!
What are some other things a Christian can do to recommend himself in the job market? Learn to be skilled at whatever job you are given. (Proverbs 22:29) Work diligently and conscientiously. (Proverbs 10:4; 13:4) Treat your employer and work supervisor with respect. (Ephesians 6:5) Punctuality, honesty, efficiency, and hard work are qualities employers esteem, and those qualities can help you to find employment even when jobs are scarce.
Now more than ever, mature men are needed to take the lead in the Christian congregation. The reason? Isaiah prophesied: “Make the place of your tent more spacious. And let them stretch out the tent cloths of your grand tabernacle.” (Isaiah 54:2) In fulfillment of this prophecy, Jehovah’s worldwide congregation keeps on experiencing growth.
So if you are a Christian man, how can you recommend yourself as one qualified to serve in an appointed capacity? Consider the example of the young man Timothy. Luke reports that Timothy “was well reported on by the brothers in Lystra and Iconium.” Yes, by his fine conduct, this young man had recommended himself to others in two different cities. Paul therefore invited Timothy to join him in the traveling ministry.—Acts 16:1-4.
How can a man today ‘reach out for an office of oversight’ in an appropriate, godly way? Certainly not by campaigning for appointment but by cultivating the spiritual qualities needed for such responsibilities. (1 Timothy 3:1-10, 12, 13; Titus 1:5-9) He can also show that he is “desirous of a fine work” by having a full share in the preaching and disciple-making work. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Those who recommend themselves as responsible Christian men take a sincere interest in the welfare of their spiritual brothers. They follow the advice of the apostle Paul: “Share with the holy ones according to their needs. Follow the course of hospitality.” (Romans 12:13) By doing such things, a Christian man can truly ‘recommend himself as a minister of God.’
At All Times
Recommending ourselves to others does not mean putting on a pretense or becoming “men pleasers.” (Ephesians 6:6) Ultimately, it means recommending ourselves to our Creator, Jehovah God, by conscientiously following his laws and principles. If you develop your spirituality and strengthen your relationship with Jehovah God, others will notice an improvement in the way you deal with your family members, workmates, and fellow Christians. They will also observe your stability and balance, your good sense of judgment, your ability to handle responsibility, and your humility. This will earn you their love and respect and, more important, win you the approval of Jehovah God because you recommend yourself to others!
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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Many parents wisely inquire about the reputation of someone their son or daughter is interested in marrying
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A brother recommends himself for privileges of service by being considerate of others