Monday, November 4, 2019

Recommended - Martin Wiles

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Romans 16:1 NLT

I had done it before, and now I was being asked to do it again.

One of the great privileges of teaching is when a student or their parent asks me to write a letter of recommendation to the college they plan to attend.

I taught Jonathan sixth grade grammar, but I had left the school when he entered the seventh grade. Now, I had returned, and he was in the eighth grade. Like many of his classmates, he didn’t do his best. Just enough to get by. He had a difficult time grasping concepts, but by the end of the year, he performed well.

One month before school ended, I received the news from Jonathan’s coach: Jonathan wasn’t returning. His dad had taken a job at a nearby college which also had a private school. Jonathan would attend there.

Two weeks after I heard the news, Jonathan’s mom asked me to write Jonathan a letter of recommendation. The school he planned to attend was private, strict, and academically demanding. I said yes. Although I couldn’t put everything I would have liked to about Jonathan, I praised his Christian attitude and let them know his capabilities when in the right environment.

Putting others above myself always feels good. Paul did it with Phoebe. He recommended her to the church in Rome and had a list of reasons why he could do so in good confidence. She was a deacon … a servant. She put others’ needs above her own. She was a fellow believer who had helped Paul and many others.

Recommending others isn’t always easy because doing so entails putting them first and self second. The letter of recommendation wasn’t about me; it was about Jonathan. I would miss him greatly, but the other school needed to know what a wonderful student and person they’d get by accepting him.

Recommending others is a humbling experience that takes a lifetime to master. Our fleshly nature makes selfishness easier. Praising others takes the focus from us and puts it on another. We hope they succeed—even if it’s in an area we wish we could. We praise their qualities—while secretly wishing we could master the same ones they possess.

Jesus recommended us above Himself by going to the cross to pay for our sins. Ask Him to teach you to put others above yourself.

Prayer: Father, give us the courage to put selfishness aside, as Your Son did on the cross.

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