I have been asked to write a reference for someone in our church. I am delighted to do so and am glad to be able to commend them. But there is an obligation on me to be honest, accurate and fair. It is a legal obligation and I could be sued if I was negligent in providing the reference and that was the reason a person did not get a job.

So how far should I go in providing the reference? I know I should not be selective in the reference, and that I should ideally stick to facts rather than opinions (and make it clear where it is opinion). But I do not know what people are like when they are not around me. I reckon most people are on their best behaviour around Ministers. They apologise if a swear-word slips out (presumably because my delicate ears can’t cope or I might swoon with embarrassment). They stop themselves from telling crude jokes (mostly). They avoid some subjects (such as sex, money and politics – because I am celibate (my wife and children may contest that one), broke and have no political opinions, I assume).

So if people are on their best behaviour around me, how can I give a full picture of them?

And if they are on their best behaviour around me, what about when they are around God? Surely they should be on their extra-special Sunday best behaviour when God shows up. They should save the unsavoury stuff for when he has gone home, gone to sleep or isn’t looking.

Except he is everywhere, doesn’t sleep and sees everything.

That’s a bit of a problem!

**Note to self: be on extra-special Sunday best behaviour at all times. Ask God’s Spirit for help with this.**

Job reference:

Bob Smith, my assistant programmer, can always be found
hard at work in his cubicle. Bob works independently, without
wasting company time talking to colleagues. Bob never
thinks twice about assisting fellow employees, and he always
finishes given assignments on time. Often he takes extended
measures to complete his work, sometimes skipping coffee
breaks. Bob is a dedicated individual who has absolutely no
vanity in spite of his high accomplishments and profound
knowledge in his field. I firmly believe that Bob can be
classed as a high-calibre employee, the type which cannot be
dispensed with. Consequently, I duly recommend that Bob be
promoted to executive management, and a proposal will be
executed as soon as possible.
That idiot was standing over my shoulder while I wrote the report sent to you earlier today. Kindly re-read only every other line.


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