What we call democracy has its advantages, but there is this odd thing. We live in a society run by boastful men and women. To explain why we should vote for them, our leaders apply long strings of labels to themselves (conservative, moderate, progressive, fiscally responsible, competent, knowledgeable, ….), and they speak in the most glowing terms of their accomplishments. How do they justify such boasting? They don’t. They just observe that it seems to work. Hence, you can go to amazon.com and find numerous instruction manuals (here) that explain how you can blow our own horn or trumpet. Thus, we strive to imitate our leaders.
What is the meaning and the origin of the phrase, “blow your own trumpet (or horn)?
Act in a confident self-promoting manner.
Dates back to at least the 16th century and derives from the practice of announcing the presence of royalty, hawkers, entertainers etc. by blowing a horn.
The Phrase Finder provides a more detailed explanation of the phrase : Blow your own trumpet. That explanation even includes some choice Bible verses. Here is another that seems especially appropriate.
Proverbs 25:14 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 Whoever falsely boasts of giving
Is like clouds and wind without rain.
Don’t our leaders boast of the aid they provide our poor, elderly, disabled, children, and so forth? Yet what they do in fact is purloin our wealth and use it to enrich themselves. That raises a question. Why do we allow them to do such a thing?
Aside: If you want a good laugh, check out the video at blow one’s own horn.
I’m OK, You’re OK
Some years back an “expert” published a best-selling book: I’m OK, You’re OK. Like most people, I never bothered to read the book. I just wondered at the absurd title. Why did I think it absurd? With one huge exception, whether I am okay or you are okay does not much depend upon what we think of each other. The author of I’m OK, You’re OK apparently focused upon that exception, childhood. When child does not receive love and affirmation from his or her parents, that is a problem.
But what about adults? Consider one of the instructions the Apostle Paul gave Timothy.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 New King James Version (NKJV)
Preach the Word
4 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
The Bible teaches we are vile and broken, that we need redemption from our sinful nature. Even though the Bible says Christ Jesus loves us and even died for our sins, that’s not what we want to hear. We want to hear we are already wonderful, that we can do it all ourselves. Therefore, Paul told Timothy that to preach the word he would have to endure rejection and suffering.
So is it wrong to receive praise or to praise another? No. We should hope for such praise and graciously encourage others with praise.
Proverbs 27:2 English Standard Version (ESV)
2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.
Nonetheless, we should seriously consider whether the praise we give and receive is deserved and well intended.
Proverbs 29:5 English Standard Version (ESV)
5 A man who flatters his neighbor
spreads a net for his feet.
Job 32:21-22 English Standard Version (ESV)
21 I will not show partiality to any man
or use flattery toward any person.
22 For I do not know how to flatter,
else my Maker would soon take me away.
Proverbs 27:6 English Standard Version (ESV)
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
So what about the political aspect of praise? When our leaders speak of the wisdom of the American people — and we believe them — we do so foolishly. When we try to run our own lives, and we try to help our family and friends, don’t we have more than enough to do? Yet the self-proclaimed wise insist that if we elect them we can manage the tiniest details of each others lives. Don’t we already know that no man is so wise?
Proverbs 11:2 English Standard Version (ESV)
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom.
When we in our pride allow ourselves to believe flattery, we set ourselves up for a fall.