The Myth of Self-Confidence

People who know me well would describe me in many ways, but self-confident would not make the list. Growing up, I was often told I would never amount to anything. For a while, I believed it.

By God’s grace, I defied the low expectations set for me, and I have been blessed with both personal and professional success. But this is of no credit to myself.

Most people teach their children to be confident. After all, they’re the most beautiful/handsome; they’re the smartest; they can do anything they set their minds to. If you’ve ever doubted it, watch first-round auditions on America’s Got Talent.

Everyone needs a cheerleading section, but is our confidence misplaced?

The world teaches me I can do all things if I believe in my own ability to do them. But the Bible teaches me . . .

I can do all things by Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:19

There came a point in my life when I realized I was better at school than most kids. There came a point when I discovered certain talents—music and writing and foreign language.

I can be confident in my God-given skills because they have been refined, tested and proven over the years. But I can never lose sight of the fact they’re God-given. And what God gives, He can take away. And if I choose to use my God-given talents for my own glory, I can be assured of falling flat on my face at some point because God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

However, when we use our abilities for His glory and His purposes, we have no need of self-confidence. We can outfit ourselves with God-confidence.

This is the confidence Moses had each time he raised his staff, the confidence Joshua had as he led the people into the Promised Land, the confidence Elijah—a man with a nature like ours (James 5:17)—had as he prayed for a drought and then for rain, the confidence a mere fisherman named Peter had as he preached to thousands.

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psalm 24:1). This includes our gifts and talents. This includes our very selves. We are His creation, created for His glory and His pleasure.

When we surrender our rights to ourselves, we have no need for confidence. We strip clean of ourselves and become His vessels to be used for His purposes.

We don’t need self-confidence. We don’t need self-anything. We need God-everything. We must decrease; He must increase.

If you have a special talent or ability, enjoy it. Use it. But don’t take the glory for yourself. Give it to Him. And don’t be one of those “aw, shucks” types who feigns humility. To paraphrase Captain Penny (if you’re old enough to remember him), “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool God.”

And with that, I’m off to practice guitar, which I will enjoy as long as He gives me the agility to play. Thank you, God, for Your gifts.

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