No… I can’t give you a reference

writing_1In my job I am often asked to write job and college recommendations. Many of those seeking recommendations from me are just starting out on their college and/or career path. I do not take being asked to write recommendations lightly. Written recommendations that are not honest are a poor reflection of the writer and do a disservice to the company or school receiving the recommendation.

As a Christian I also believe that the Bible instructs us to be honest but to also not engage in negative talk about others.

Ephesians 4:29 says, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

That being said, sometimes I have to say, “No, I cannot give you a recommendation.”

This past week I had to tell someone that I could not in good faith write a recommendation for them. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the person; I just did not feel that I could write a recommendation that would enable the person to get the job they were seeking. To be truthful, I had only negative experiences with the work habits of this person.  I felt that since I could not write a positive recommendation, I should not write one at all. The only point in writing a negative recommendation is to hurt the person who requested you write on their behalf. Why cause hurt and pain when you can just say, “no?”

As Christians I do not feel that we should use our words to hurt others who are seeking employment. We need to uplift people not tear them down. We need to remember not only the words of Jesus, but also the words of almost every mother who has ever lived. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”


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